Parents can host healthier school parties for their children during the school year by following some simple ideas and changing them for different healthy party themes. Keeping children healthy, having healthier schools and raising healthier children are all goals that are shared by parents, teachers and school administrators. Having healthier schools is just one of the key pillars in the new Let's Move program led by First Lady, Michelle Obama.
One way to encourage children to make healthier choices and have healthier schools is to establish a policy on healthy celebrations as part of the schools' wellness committee and then encourage parents to find ways to plan healthier school parties.
Hosting healthier parties also helps to teach children to enjoy celebrations that do not always involved a lot of sweet treats. Healthy school celebrations also promote positive lifestyle choices and reinforce good habits such as eating healthy food and being active.
Establish a Wellness Policy for School Celebrations
A model school wellness policy, developed by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, recommends for school celebrations, "Schools should limit celebrations that involve food during the school day to no more than one party per class per month. Each party should include no more than one food or beverage that does not meet nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold individually. The district will disseminate a list of healthy party ideas to parents and teachers." There are several lists of recommended healthy food ideas available for schools to use online.
Tips for Hosting Healthy School Celebrations
With a bit of creative planning and following some simple ideas, it is still possible for room parents to throw fun and healthy school celebration throughout the school year. One easy way of planning a healthy school celebration is to have the celebration focus on an activity instead of focusing on sweet treats.
Some fun school party activities from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Connecticut State Department of Education include:
• Have parents bring party games.
• Organize a community project to benefit local seniors, chemotherapy patients or animal shelter animals.
• Let the kids create something with art supplies.
• Allow the kids to prepare their healthy food snacks.
• Read a book to the kids.
• Let the birthday kid be the teacher's special helper for the day and wear a special crown or sash. The birthday child can sit in a special birthday chair and visit the principal for a birthday surprise (card, pencil, sticker, coupon).
• Set up craft stations.
• Give the kids "free choice" time.
• Host a scavenger hunt.
• Have a dance or rollerskating party.
Healthier school parties also focus on healthier school foods. Many school wellness programs have the list of healthy food ideas that can be served to children. Encourage parents to find creative ways of serving healthy foods rather than bringing in unhealthy options.
Healthy Party Treats for School Celebrations
Some healthy party treats suggested by the University of Missouri's Family Nutrition Education Program and the Connecticut State Department of Education include:
• Applesauce cups (no sugar added)
• Mini boxed raisins
• Trail mix
• 100% fruit boxes
• Fruit smoothies from blended fruits and berries
• 100% fruit snacks
• Fresh fruit assortments
• Angel food cake with fruit
• Whole grain bagels, English muffins topped with jam, fruit or cream cheese
No Calorie Treats for Health School Parties
Some fun no-calorie treats or healthy alternatives to candy suggested by the University of Missouri's Family Nutrition Education Program include:
• Pencils and pens
• Key chains
• Note pads
• Play tattoos
• Pencil toppers
Parents can also incorporate healthier recipes and other no calorie treats as part of healthy school parties and healthy bake sales.
Healthy School Party Ideas for Christmas and Winter Holidays
Parents can host a winter themed party for the children allowing them to make gingerbread ornaments out of felt and crafts using snowflakes, snow globes and other festive winter themes. Holiday songs can be sung at the party. Students might go caroling from room to room or to a local senior center. Children can also make their own Healthier Holiday Trail Mix Recipes as part of a party activity.
Healthy School Party Ideas for Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is a great time to let children be creative and break out the heart crafts and have students make their own Valentine's cards to give to friends and family and Valentine's Day card holders, envelope, bag or basket. Valentine's Day does not have to be all about sugar. There are many Sweet (No Calorie) Treats for Valentine's Day that can be included as part of a Valentine's Day Party or other class party.
Healthy School Party Ideas for Halloween
Letting kids' and parents creepy creativity out is a very fun way to turn healthy foods into spooky options. Kids can create spiders or hedgehogs out of pretzels and parents can serve witches fingers or goblin brain vegetables and other Healthy Treats for Halloween.
Parents interested in hosting healthy school parties just need to plan and think out of the traditional sugar-coated box to find easy ways to throw healthier school celebrations. In addition to the resources shared here, the Center for Science in the Public Interest provides several helpful ideas, recipes and guidelines for planning Healthy School Celebrations.
Let's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation
Healthy School Celebrations. Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPINet.org
Healthy Classroom Celebrations. Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPINet.org
Family Nutrition Education Programs. Healthy Celebrations. University of Missouri.