WE MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER SUMMERRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!
We did it, and our members had a great time. Now we are all back into the rhythm of the school year, which gives us time to breathe and to put all the extra energy we have into planning Club programming! (And also maybe our families and self care lol)
Celebrations are a common occurrence at every Club. When I was in the Education room, every week we would have Power Hour parties. Each member who came to Power Hour at least three times that week had the chance to come to a party on Friday afternoon with a special food treat and activity, often a movie or tv show episode (we loved Odd Squad and Doctor Who!). These parties were very simple since they occurred so often, but I still tried to keep them fun and varied. We are super lucky in the Smoky Mountains because there are lots of local businesses who support our mission and would donate food or money for these weekly parties. The weeks we got food were easy for me as staff- I just served what I got. But a couple of weeks a month I was given a budget and needed to make a plan. Over the course of a school year THAT IS A LOT OF IDEAS I HAD TO COME UP WITH.
Even if you aren’t doing weekly parties, an easy way to incorporate fun into Club life is through mixing it up when it comes to celebrations. It keeps youth on their toes and makes celebrations something to look forward to. And because I was a busy person, and my Club didn’t have a kitchen at the time, I kept a real focus on keeping it AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. This post I’m going to share food options that aren’t pizza (since it seems to be the go-to), and soon we will do a part two that has non-food options.
Here are some of the food-based ideas my Club Director and I came up with, which makes them all Club-tested and approved:
This one always felt a little crazy to me since we spent all summer eating cereal for breakfast at the Club, but my members loved getting to pick out their cereal boxes. They could use their milk they got with snack if they wanted, but most would just eat it dry. And they are CHEAP. Pro tip: Be sure to have enough to where nobody is stuck with a “boring” one like Corn Flakes.
Hot chocolate with toppings
When the weather turned cold, a hot chocolate bar was a huge hit. You could do it a couple of ways, by either making a big batch in a crock pot or by heating up water and giving out individual mixes. The fun comes in having a bunch of toppings, like marshmallows and sprinkles to go on top.
Individual ice creams
I think the secret here and with the cereals is the individual packages. For whatever reason they loved the individual packages? I don’t know, but buying treats this way made it EASY on me! These little ice creams are a breeze. My local grocery store even had ones in birthday cake flavor which we all know is the best flavor.
Italian ices or popsicles
Keeping with the theme, cups of Italian ice were also fun and something a little different. No toppings needed. Popsicles are also a good option, but I find them messier than the cups.
Another super simple and inexpensive choice. Pro tip: if you do fun ones, be sure to have enough for everyone. Even though we all know the simple glazed ones are the best (don’t @ me), to a kid’s eyes they aren’t as exciting as one covered in icing and sprinkles.
Once a month a local restaurant would donate hot dogs, buns, and chips for one of our parties. This was great! Except I didn’t have a kitchen at the time (whomp whomp). I discovered that a simple way to cook a ton of hot dogs at once was in a crock pot! It made clean up easy too.
Root beer is the obvious choice here, and gets extra points since it doesn’t have caffeine. But you could even have a variety of soda flavors, like regular cola or orange and grape sodas to let youth customize their floats. Personally I love a good cream soda float myself.
Cookie or cupcake decorating
To reach an advanced level, combine a food and an activity by decorating cakes or cupcakes! This could also be a way to get local bakeries on board with donating simple sugar cookies or the icing and toppings.
BY FAR the most popular treat I ever did was also one of the most simple. I’d just mix popcorn, marshmallows, and M&Ms and put them in coffee filters. That’s it. But my members would BEG for it. In the photo above, it looks like they added pretzels and peanuts (for allergies I’d just avoid the nuts). When I googled to get a picture for this, there were tons of other variations. I usually pre-mixed or had some Torch Club members help me, just to avoid an all-candy bowl, but you could put out ingredients for your members to make their own. Other mix-in ideas are chocolate chips, Fruit Loops or other cereals, raisins, chocolate-covered pretzels, Reese’s Pieces, seasonal candy like jelly beans or conversation hearts or candy corn, or goldfish.
Until next time, party hard!
What easy snacks did I not think of? Also, for the next post that will have ideas that aren’t food-based, I’ll need your help! Either comment below, message BGCA Youth Development on Facebook (and like us while you are there!), or send them to ClubXBlog@bgca.org.