Every year our homeschool group has three main group events. Two of them are an end-of-the-year party and a not-back-to-school party. Both are always a huge hit and lots of fun. They’re also fairly easy to plan.
1. Choose a venue. One of the easiest places to have a homeschool group party is a local playground. Even the teens can enjoy just hanging out. Most of the playgrounds in our area have picnic tables and at least one pavilion.
Check ahead of time to see if there is a cost for renting any available pavilions or if they’re first come, first served. In the event that you can’t reserve a pavilion, it’s good if a couple of families can show up early to stake them out, but we always encourage our group members to bring blankets and camp chairs, just in case.
2. Plan the menu. This is typically the easiest part. We just ask everyone to bring a dish and a drink (2-liter bottle, gallon of sweet tea, bottled water, or juice boxes) to share. One of the group leaders picks up ice and we charge $1-$2 per family to cover paper goods, which a group leader also brings.
With this “everyone bring a dish” thing, we have a tendency to end up with a lot of pizza. This does not disturb the kids at all.
3. Be mindful of possible food allergies. Because of the potential for serious reactions, we disallow all peanut and nut products for group events. Others in our group with less severe, sometimes trickier-to-accommodate allergies will sometimes bring their own picnic lunch.
4. Plan for activities. Okay, this is only a suggestion because we never do this. Our moms and kids seem to have a great time just getting together. However, you may wish to provide some equipment for self-directed play for the kids, such as soccer or playground balls, Frisbees, or jump ropes.
5. Bring sunscreen and hand sanitizer. Maybe you don’t have to worry about sunscreen, but I have blonde/red-headed, blue-eyed kids. We should be buying stock in the sunscreen companies.
The hand sanitizer? Kids, dirt, self-serve food. Enough said.
6. A whistle is useful. Our group typically doesn’t start eating when we first arrive, so that everyone has a chance to get to the party. Once the kids wander off to play, gathering everyone together again can be tricky. A whistle helps.
7. Don’t forget the Sharpie. With a large group of moms and kids, there are going to be lots of unattended cups sitting around. Bring a Sharpie so that everyone can write their names on their cups.
8. Provide name tags. Because our support group is email-based, we often know people by name, but not by face. Name tags help everyone connect more easily. We’ve even used a name tag template in our group files so that people could make their own at home.
When my kids where younger, I would put my name and cell phone number on the back of their name tag, which we inserted in a plastic sleeve…just in case.
9. Be sure to carry your cell phone. If you’ve got new families, someone is sure to get lost, be running late, or be unsure if that big group of strangers at the park is the homeschool group or a family reunion. It’s nice when they’ve got someone they can call.
10. Get a sign. I’m so excited about the banner I had made recently. Our group has often wished we had a sign we could hang up at the park so new people could find us easily. Now we do!
Kris is the sweet-tea-drinking, classically eclectic, slightly Charlotte Mason mom to her three Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has lost nearly 90 pounds, going from morbidly obese couch potato to runner. She chronicles her transformation on her fitness blog, Eclipsed.
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