Our last pre-Christmas bedtime read-aloud was Little Women, and I determined mid-book that we’d have a Little Women-themed end of the semester party. This was partially inspired by Julie Bogart’s party school idea (go here to watch Julie give an explanation of this idea via Periscope). It was also a good way to end our fall schooling and celebrate Christmas a little early with friends.
I wanted this to be educational as well as fun, and I knew myself (and my kids, and kids in general) well enough to know that the meat of the educational part must come before the party. It also happened that we were finishing up our Civil War studies, too, so it was just that little bit of “pixie dust” (as Julie calls it) to cap off a pretty intense period of history study. The party was the icing on our Civil War/Little Women cake. I had had my girls make a Civil War timeline as we read through our fantastic Civil War “spine.” (I apologize for the poor pictures, but the girls mostly did the timeline in pencil before I realized that I was going to use it as part of our decor. That’s how I do things–without a lot of forethought. 😉 )
We held our party mid-morning on Thursday, December 17. We invited about ten girls and their siblings, so we ended up with a total of about fifteen children and five adults. The girls and I decided on a Christmas brunch after the breakfast the girls didn’t eat in Little Women. I was inspired by this blog post to try making popovers using this recipe. After a trial run on Wednesday morning, I realized that it would be difficult to make enough popovers and keep them warm for the large group we were hosting, so we opted to keep it Southern and have biscuits instead. This was our menu:
- biscuits with jelly (this is my favorite biscuit recipe, but it’s a little bit tricky, and I was too flustered to pull it off Thursday morning, so I made a much simpler recipe after ruining the first batch I attempted)
- sausage-hash brown breakfast casserole
- orange mini-muffins with brown sugar glaze
- orange juice
- water with lemon, lime (you know, because Amy loved them so 😉 ), and orange wedges
We have a huge dining room table that seats twelve comfortably, so the girls all sat around the table, while the moms mostly hovered and stood and the little boys sat at our Little Tikes picnic table at the other end of the kitchen. I have a few shots of the table taken by my good buddy Jennifer:
We decorated with canning jars filled with water in which we floated cranberries, holly leaves and berries, and a tea light candle. It was very pretty.
The girls got inspired early in the week to make a few favors for the party. Lulu followed instructions from The Little Women Book: Games, Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Pleasures by Lucille Recht Penner to make the tissue paper flowers. (We ended up using this book hardly at all, but in general I do recommend her books. We depending almost exclusively on her book Eating the Plates for last year’s authentic Thanksgiving feast.) They also moved a table into the entry hall and made their own display. I was very happy that they were excited enough about the party to take that much initiative!
After we ate, we headed downstairs to the basement to do a little art, which was inspired, of course, by Miss Amy March. I chose this Christmas tree chalk pastel from Hodgepodge, and it was a hit.
Even the two year old participated, though he ended up using markers, mostly (thank heavens!)
A few of the things I had the girls do in order to up the educational value of our party schooling included writing up character summaries of each of the little women. We typed them up and put them by their respective dolls which were generously loaned to us by my aforementioned good buddy Jennifer (who’s also a Brave Writer mom and whose daughters attended the party).
The girls also collaborated together on an invitation. Louise designed the front of the invitation (which you can see below) and Lulu chose the font and typed the invitation. (Drawing dresses is Louise’s specialty.)
The girls and I also picked out our favorite quotes and copied them on fancy paper of our choice. (I shared another quote I love here.) We displayed them with the dolls.
We finished the afternoon off with the original 1933 Little Women movie while snacking on snickerdoodles and popcorn. The movie wasn’t exactly a hit with the whole crowd, so several of the girls ended up going outside to play, etc. Over all, though, the party was a great success, and I’ll definitely consider party schooling again.
However, that will not be for quite a long time. Pixie dust sprinkling and cake icing are exhausting. 🙂