In two words. Organization and help!
While I prep everything for our annual Christmas Day Camp it takes all available hands to help things go smoothly and safely during our time together. This year I had my hubby, my live-in-mother-in-law who is great-grandma to the little guests, and my youngest daughter who usually disappears but lucky for me she happened to owe me a favor this year to help me!
I gathered all of the supplies needed for everything we were going to do and I had them within my reach. How did I know what all I was going to need? I create a print out for each and every activity. The print out lists the materials, tools, and resources needed. The items that are unique to each project are placed in their own labeled bag with a sample of the finished project. Tools or resources that are needed to be used throughout the camp such as scissors, paint brushes, glue sticks were organized in caddies. I ended up having everything I needed within my reach except for a pair of wire cutters that my hubby graciously ran out to the garage to get.
Once the kids arrive I want to be in the moment with them. I post a schedule nearby so that I don't have to worry about what I need to be doing next. This schedule shows the shared tools and resources that are needed for each specific craft or activity.
Having this list prepared allows the other adults present
or the older kids to help me gather what we need next.
The schedule is full but we don't worry about getting it all done.
We allow the kids to have the time they need to finish their projects
or to enjoy a scheduled activity until they have had their fill.
One such activity was our Christmas Lights and Caroling Activity. As in years past, we bundled up, loaded up in the back of Papa's truck and drove around our rural neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Normally, we have just sang Christmas carols with one another as we drove around. This year the kids wanted to ring the doorbells of our neighbors and actually sing carols for them. The kids had an absolute blast and better yet for Papa and I .... all of that running around and jumping in and out of the truck helped to wear them out for bedtime.
Wall to wall sleeping cousins is a precious site!
To back up a bit, one thing I always do when the cousins first arrive from three different homes is to have a gathering snack and activity ready for them. This gets everyone on the same eating schedule.
One labeled cup per camper for drinks and meals.
We wash them between meals of course!
Help yourself snacks for the first hour.
The gathering activity.
Always a tote the kids can fill with their finished projects.
The tote more times than not is made from
plastic ice cream buckets that my parents save for me.
The gathering craft is always an easy one. This one, the kids were given four blank index cards, markers, and piles of Christmas stickers. One index card required their name to be printed on it. The other three they could deck out with a Christmas scene anyway they liked. The four cards were then taped to the ice cream bucket to cover up the writing around the bucket.
All of the finished totes are then lined up nearby. As the projects are completed the kids put them in their totes. I am so sad that I didn't get a picture of the loaded totes. They all looked so cute with the santa on the sticks popping out of the top when it was time to go home.
My eleven year old granddaughter was over the other night talking through all we did at our Grandkid's Christmas party. She then followed up by asking me. "What's next?" Meaning what and when will be our next grandkids only party? I said that will be my Grandma Camp in May where we all sleep outside in the tent. Granddaughter: Not until May!!!??? That was a big ol' hug to my heart!
Today, I finished packing away my six tubs of labeled Grandkid's Christmas Day Camp in my garage. I couldn't help but to start thinking about next years Christmas Day Camp. So many many ideas already!!!!