A PTO-sponsored Winterfest is a tradition at many schools, but successfully pulling off this type of event can present a challenge for a group of parent volunteers due to budget concerns and the logistics of recruiting enough adults to help with the activities. To make your Winterfest fun for both the kids and the adults, it's a good idea to try to keep the affair low key and simple.
Since most PTOs have limited budgets, it's smart to keep your decorations simple so you'll have more money to spend on activities. Strings of clear lights and an assortment of blue, white and silver balloons add a festive look to any winter-themed event. To make simple snowman decorations, add eyes made from black construction paper and a carrot nose to large white paper lanterns. If the kids are helping decorate, have them make paper snowflakes. Tie ribbons to each snowflake, and then hang them from the ceiling so it looks like it's snowing during your event.
Carnival Games and Activities
With a little effort, you can add a winter twist to many traditional carnival games. Use white cloth beanbags for a beanbag toss that looks like the kids are throwing snowballs at their targets. Play bingo with cards that have various winter-themed images, such as mittens, snowflakes or mugs of hot chocolate. Have a guessing contest by filling large jars with small wrapped peppermint candies and invite everyone to submit their best guess as to the number of candies in the jars for a chance to win a small prize. Instead of a traditional face-painting booth, have someone ready to apply glittery temporary snowflake tattoos to each student's hands or cheeks.
A hot cocoa bar is a fun winter-themed activity that will appeal to middle-schoolers. Set out containers filled with chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, crushed peppermints, colored sprinkles and cinnamon sticks. Everyone can dress up their hot cocoa just the way they like it. You could also set up a station where students can decorate a sugar cookie to enjoy with their hot cocoa. Bags of popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar are a snack option to consider as well.
Many schools include a community service component to school activities by asking for a donation instead of charging admission to the event. For a Winterfest event, you could ask students to bring in old winter coats or donate a new hat and gloves for an organization serving low-income families. A local food bank would surely appreciate a donation of nonperishable foods such as canned soups. If desired, you can assign a volunteer to track the donations by class and offer a prize, such as a pizza party, to the class that donates the most items.