Friday, October 12, 2007

Harvest Party Planning

As I continue in answering questions that you have sent - this one is about planning a Harvest Party. Some of you who were reading last Fall, remember this big event. For those who don't have a clue what I'm talking about - I posted a four-part series on planning a Harvest Party of your own:

Part One: Planning and Invitations
Part Two: Activities and Games
Part Three: Food and Drink
Part Four: Decorating

And, then I showed you our party in three sections (just because I didn't know how to put all those pictures in one post - which I now know!)

2006 Harvest Party Part One
2006 Harvest Party Part Two
2006 Harvest Party Part Three

Now, with all of that history - we can move on to the question which was about planning your own Harvest Party for friends. Our reader wanted to know what worked and what didn't and what I learned from last year. This is such a great question because anytime you do something like this a first time, you are definitely going to learn some things!

So - our 2nd Annual Homespun Harvest party is coming up next Friday and I've been working on plans for this. I will say that I worked ahead for over two months last year on details. Meaning that I just did little bits here and there. This year, I'm relying heavily on all the groundwork I laid last year and will only spend small amounts of time this week and then finishing up with things next week.

Here are some ideas for what worked:
* The time - we had ours on a Friday morning from 10:30am - 12:30pm. This worked out really well, we played for the first 2/3 and then had a big picnic for the rest!
* Having each family bring their own blanket and picnic lunch really simplified our meal time when we were ready for that. We have a big back yard, so there was plenty of room to spread out the blankets and also for the little people to run around as they wanted to.
* Bob for Apples: I think this was the highlight for everyone! I had a big galvanized tub (found at a hardware store) filled with water. I set all of this on a quilt and then filled the tub with apples. Nearby I set up a small table and included an apple slicer, napkins, plates, and apple dips so they could be snacked on right then. Truthfully - I think it would be fine to just let them eat the apple!
* Decorate cupcakes: I had made lots of cupcakes and icing and had sprinkles and decorations ready. Each child was able to decorate their own cupcake for dessert and this worked out well.
* Pumpkin Patch: I had one pumpkin per family set out in a portion of our yard labeled with a sign as the pumpkin patch. The children were able to go with their mom and pick out a pumpkin to take home!

What I have planned to do differently this year:
* I had planned lots of little activities and a craft or two last year. The children really had more fun just playing together in our yard! I'm really planning to simplify this for our party this year. I'll list below what I have in mind for activities.
* Let others help: all the moms insisted that they be allowed to help this year - so one is bringing the apples for the bobbing, one box drinks which the children can all drink, one is helping by bringing a few pumpkins for the patch. This will really help me as well!
* It is too hot in the south in October to make apple cider - I will not make any this year!

My plan for this year:

*My party will be scheduled again for a Friday morning from 10:30am - 12:30pm. I have asked each family to bring their own blanket and lunch as well.
* Activities will include:
- Count the Corn: this was popular last year as well. A canning jar or empty peanut butter jar can be decorated and filled with candy corn. Make sure to count how many you put in and keep track! Let the guests guess how many are in the jar - winner keeps the jar.
- Bob for Apples
- Clothespin Drop
- Sack Races: a new one from last year. I ordered some burlap sacks and plan to organize a sack race perhaps by age.
- Three-Legged Race: also a new one from last year. I was thinking bandannas would work great for tying partners together.
- Bean Bag Toss
- Pumpkin Patch: I plan to have my camera ready to photograph each child with a pumpkin and then I can send those pictures to the Moms - I loved this idea!
- Cupcakes to decorate: these will be our dessert after lunch!
- Favors: I've been working on the cones shown in the Fall issue of Seasonal Delights. I plan to fill them with the Autumn Popcorn Mix also featured.
- Craft: I'm going to have a very simple craft available just for anyone who is interested - otherwise they can take them home. I found an almost bare tree graphic in Word and removed all the remaining leaves. I made the tree fill up almost the entire page. Then, I included this verse, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever." ~ Isaiah 40:8. I have some artificial leaves left from last year and will have those available to glue on and crayons for coloring.
- Thankful Tree: I plan to cut out leaves from different colors of paper and punch holes in the top. I will tie strings to all of these and find a big branch outside. Then I'll set up an area where children can write something they are thankful for and hang their leaf on the tree - a visual reminder of all we are thankful for.

On planning your own:

* Decide on a day and time. Consider the age of the children you want to invite and keep in mind nap schedules and the like.
* Next, I would think about what activities you would like to have at your party. How simple or elaborate are you wanting this event to be? The point is to have fun and make memories together - so keep that in mind!
* Create and send your invitations.
* Work ahead as much as possible. Make the cupcakes ahead and freeze them, make any signs, gather craft supplies, etc... There will be plenty to do on the morning of!

Side note: There was a wonderful and charming article in the Martha Stewart Living October 2007 issue about hosting a similar party. You can read all about it here. It was loaded with ideas that could certainly help in planning your own party!

I hope all of this helps! If any of you have ever hosted a similar party or do so this Fall, please come back and share about it! I know everyone would enjoy hearing about it as much as I would!


Liisa said...

Thank you so much for all the information. I remember your Harvest Party from last year. (I've been lurking for quite sometime ~smile~) I am helping to plan and throw a Harvest Tea and Luncheon at our church next Saturday and I think it would be a great idea to have a Harvest Party for the children as well in the next few weeks!

Anonymous said...

Wish I could be there! I hope everyone has a wonderful time, and I look forward to seeing photos of this year's Harvest Party! :)
Love, Mom

Darcy said...

Such great ideas! As I was reading your post I wondered if you had saw that article in Martha's magazine. I loved her idea of hanging donuts on ribbon at mouthlevel and having the kids eat them with no hands.

Looking forward to seeing the pictures from your party!

Julian said...

great ides, thanks so much! We will be having ours next week also. Congrats on your baby boy! Youll love having a boy. I have 4!

Milehimama said...

I know bobbing for apples is fun, but I hope you go with donut (or apples) on a ribbon dangling.

Who wants to dip their face into a tub full of kid slobber, especially during cold and flu season?

carrie said...

Such fabulous ideas, Monica! Wish I could be there. Love you!

Amy said...

These are all such excellent ideas and who could forget your bash last year? I am bookmarking these- it might a fun playgroup for me to host one year with my mom's group. Thank you for being so sweet and sharing your ideas!

Barbie@ Mamaology said...

Wow, I am truly impressed with all the info you gave there:) What a fun idea. I think the pumpkin patch and picnic idea's are great:)

I just had a cowgirl part for my girls birthdays with somewhat similar ideas.

Such a fun time of year to celebrate!

Kari & Kijsa said...

So glad you posted this...full of good advice...we just stumbled across your blog and we are so glad we did!

Have a blessed day,

kari and kijda

Laura Leigh Dobson said...

I just found your blog through Emma's (charming the birds. . . ) I love it. Thanks so much for such wonderful ideas and inspirations.

Jammy said...

Our Harvest Party is this coming Saturday and sounds much like yours, thanks for all the great ideas and tips, I really appreciate it. I have begun entertaining just THIS year so it's a big change for me.... ;-)

I'll post about it on my blog, too.


Rebecca said...

Monica - What wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for your crafty ideas!

Jthemilker said...

WOW Monica. I dream of having as much organization as you! What lovely party ideas. I so love fall!

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

Thanks for sharing all of this information. I can't wait until my little on is big enough for us to host a Harvest party! What fun it will be!!

Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

So fun! We're actually hosting our neighborhood harvest party tomorrow, so it was nice to read through your ideas today. :)