Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland party theme - thumbnail image

We are lucky to live in Southern California, where the winter is usually very mild. My children, however, always wish there was snow on the ground when they see the winters in other cities on television. So last Valentine's Day, my neighbors and I decided to bring snow to our street and create a Winter Wonderland, at least for a day.

We sent Valentine's Day party invitations to a handful of kids in each of our children's classes. (There were five of us hosting this gala.) The invitation was in the shape of a snowflake and listed the day, time, and place (the end of our street, we are lucky to be on a cul-de-sac). Guidelines were also given on what to wear (bring your mittens, boots and winter jackets), but we wanted the “snow” to be a surprise. We also asked each child to bring three dozen valentines to exchange. When responses for the party came in, we made personalized bags for each child attending. The bags would be used for gathering valentines from other children.

The snow was even a surprise to our own children, so on the day of the party, we asked our husbands to keep the kids inside while we met the “snow truck” outside. My neighbor had found a company that made snow and delivered it for special occasions. When the truck came down the street, we couldn't believe our eyes. Within minutes, it had dumped enough snow to cover almost the entire end of the street, and it stood at least 3 feet high. (Note: we had sent a letter to all of our neighbors telling them of our intentions so that they were aware of what was happening and thankfully, no one minded.) We paid for our snow and each ran to our garage to get out the snow toys.

We had small sleds, plastic saucers, snow ball makers, and several plastic tubs filled with all the fixings for a snowman – scarf, hat, twigs, pinecones, coal, and long carrots for noses. We excitedly returned home to get our children.

When the kids saw the snow they went crazy with joy. They jumped in it, tumbled in it, rolled in it, made snow angels in it, and even tasted it (it wasn't bad). We all enjoyed the quiet play time for about 30 minutes and then the party guests started to arrive. The expressions on the kids faces was priceless. Everyone was delighted by the sight of snow. We let the kids play for a long time on their own and then played an organized game.

Since it was Valentine's Day we thought we'd put some heart into the festivities with a bull's eye game. We stomped a flat area of snow near the edge of the snow pile and using a spray bottle filled with water and red food coloring drew concentric hearts so there were three of them. We assigned each one a point value (25, 50, 100) and gave the kids snowballs to toss into the hearts. Each child got three tries and the one who received the most points won. The winners – there were several ties – were given a bag of heart shaped chocolates.

We took a snow break when we noticed kids were starting to shiver, and brought everyone in to my house for lunch. The kids sat on the floor near the fireplace and we served hot chocolate with marshmallows. Then each child received the bag we had made for them with their name on it. Inside was their lunch: turkey sandwich, chips and an apple. We told the kids to save the bags because they would be used for collecting their valentines.

After lunch the partygoers returned to the snow, warmed and ready to play. One of the sleds had a pull string and my neighbor's husband pulled kids around in circles. The riders would yell faster and would laugh hysterically when they tumbled off. It soon became a game to see who could stay on the longest. Snowballs were always in flight and if you weren't careful, you would be hit by one, not always in a pleasant spot.

The kids came inside one last time to exchange valentines and have a treat. We lined up their bags and had each child put a valentine in. When done, we folded the bag closed and handed them out. Then we served dessert. My neighbor made a giant snowman cake. It had small Oreo cookie eyes, a red leather fruit scarf, an M & M smile, Hershey kiss buttons, and a big red candy heart on its chest. It was a piece of art and I hated to cut into it, but a sweet tooth is nothing to mess with so slice I did. The party continued outside until parents arrived to get their kids.

Lucky for us, the snow lasted a few days. Other neighborhood kids came by to play and my own children couldn't wait to get home from school so they could relish in the fluff. The party was a big hit and we were so happy to bring a bit of winter to our sunshine days.