In 2012, 2013, and 2014 we held our class Christmas parties at a restaurant called Teddy's Kitchen. They specialize in junk foods like pizzas, chicken nuggets, fries, etc. What made them stand out was the addition of placing a life sized teddy bear at each table. It would be no surprise that children at the mall, with parents in tow, would insist on coming here for lunch. While they waited for the food to arrive, they could cuddle and play with the bear.
They also hosted parties where a teddy bear came out to play with the children, take photos, and entertain. Once everyone arrived we would gather in front of the restaurant where 'Teddy," would lead the group in a little dance routine.
The event was designed to be relaxing and allow for parents to bond with the children. Not only was food served as is expected in a restaurant but the activities included students making their own teddy bear shaped pizzas. As an alternative, students could choose to make tuna sandwiches pressed into a teddy bear mold.
I would also be in charge of leading some games with the children. This gave the kitchen time cook the pizzas that the students prepared. I led the students in games like the Hokey-Pokey and Red-light Green-light. One year I took advantage of the polished floors and set up water bottles like bowling pins. I taught the students to bowl.
But mostly I took a step back and let the kids immerse themselves in the activity and spend time with their friends and parents.