Although it may not feel like Winter is coming; a few quick nights of temperatures dropping down into the 20s can happen quickly once November hits. Once Winter does come, this throws us all into great nostalgia of our winter childhood: snow, sledding, a good fire, cookies, decorations, hot cocoa, Santa, and much more. The team here at Kookist wanted to showcase one of our favorite seasons by highlighting a Winter festival we celebrated with close friends and family.
You don’t need to reserve Winter for staying inside – our Winter festival was done outside; and most importantly the kids just loved it! We offer some ideas on how you can run your own Winter festival in your own backyard. Read on for ideas and how we involved our own kids during this magical time of year.
We’re listing activities that you can choose to pick from for your own festival. We didn’t do all of these for ours but only a few. Depending on how large of a crowd you invite – you can pick and choose from the list.
- Cookie decorating
- Gingerbread house decorating
- Pie tasting
- Winter tractor themed rides
- Santa visits
- Ornament making
- Winter book station
- Give back to the community
- Shave kits making station
- Holiday cards for soldiers
- Auction station
- Fun Food/beverages station
- Hot Cocoa station
For our festival we went with:
- Pie tasting
- Gingerbread house decorating
- Winter tractor themed ride
- Fun food and beverages stations
- Winter book station
Pie Tasting Station
A good pie really can really go a long way; pair this up with some hot cocoa and now we’re talking. We found there are literally hundreds of varieties of pies you can either make or buy – so it’s a ton of fun just to explore how many and the types you will have.
We decided to keep it pretty simple: buy all the pies except one. Although there is nothing like the smell of a fresh made pie from the oven, we didn’t have time to make them. The pies we decided on were: apple crumb, pecan, buttermilk and chocolate pumpkin. We cut the pies up into bite size pieces and let people “build their own” – what a hit this was!
Gingerbread House Decorating Station
Gingerbread houses go way back in history so we kept it classic and had a station at our festival. The kids really loved this one too! We actually made the houses ahead of time and kept this a “decorate only” station. This way there wasn’t as much supervision needed and the kids could just get right into decorating.
Prep work (2 hours):
- Buy gingerbread house kits at local craft store; we bought ours at Michaels (LINK)
- Assemble ahead of time; kids can really help out here if you want them to.
Gingerbread House Station Setup
- The kits contained the decorating materials (icing, sprinkles, etc) – so we just grabbed these from our kits and put them out.
- Kookist does recommend a parent to be at the station; we don’t want kids eating the icing straight up!
Winter Tractor Themed Ride
Tractors can really be used for much more than yard work; luckily the owners at Kookist have a nice yard and a tractor; so we chose to use this at our festival. The possibilities are really endless but we kept it simple: we decorated the tractor with some lights, put some hay in the cart and chose a nice and not too bumpy route for rides. A little bonus we did: the driver dressed up as Santa Clause!
Kookist does recommend having a parent in the cart with the kids. Although we drove slow, some of the kids were pretty young.
Fun Food and Beverages Station
Even if you have a dessert station like we did, it’s nice to have some actual food and drink that everyone can enjoy. We actually had our Festival the day after Thanksgiving, so we wanted to keep things pretty light. This also saved some time by really only having heavy apps for the food portion. Some of the items we made but most we bought – see below on the details:
- Roasted Nuts & Pretzels – pretty simple for light snacking. We bought this at the supermarket.
- Crackers & Hummus – we mixed it up with a few varieties of crackers and hummus. We do recommend a lemon hummus as we found we didn’t buy enough! Also bought these at the supermarket.
- Margherita Flatbread Pizza – you really can’t have an easier pizza to make than a Margherita flatbread. We made these with the kids ahead of time; super easy. Red sauce, basil, mozzarella balls and a little olive oil.
- Cajun Sweet Potato Fries – these were a great hit and super easy to make if you have an air fryer. Went well with some spicy mustard.
- For the adults
- Threw different beers in a bucket
- Christmas Sangria – we did splurge a little here and ended up making this: Christmas Sangria
- For the kids
- Water – also for the adults!
- Hot Cocoa
- Juice boxes
Winter Book Station
A good book on a cold day can really go a long way. We thought it would be a nice touch that the parents appreciated to have a book station. The concept is pretty simple; each kid can pick one or two books to take home. This reminded us of the book fairs we used to have at our Elementary schools back in the 90s – there’s something special about bringing home some great adventures. We ended up buying books on Amazon for this.
Any leftover books we donated to our local community – in the grand scheme of things; we wanted to make sure we somehow could give back to the community at our Festival.
Getting Kids Involved
Let’s not forget the whole reason we had the Winter Festival – for the kids! We kept this a bit simpler than our Fall Festival Backyard Fall Festival but we have outlined each activity and how the kids helped.
Pie Tasting Station – our son helped us out with making the Apple Crumb Pie. It was actually easier than I thought to make this one. Best Apple Pie Crunch Layering the apples and sprinkling on the crumbs was his favorite part.
Gingerbread House Decoration Station – This was the most fun with the kids and we appreciated the help of making 10 houses ahead of time. The kids loved being the “icing operators” and to help stick the walls of the house together.
Winter Theme Tractor Ride – The girls helped us decorate the tractor with lights and spread the hay on the cart.
Food and Beverage Station – Although we kept this simple and bought most – we did use the kids to help set the table with decorations. The night before they made paper snow angels and then helped to hang them on the table cloth.
We decided to have a Winter Festival to break up the monotony of staying inside the entire Winter. What fun this was – from planning, to having the kids help with making food, to seeing the kids having a great time outside with all of the activities; it was a big hit and a good way to keep in touch with some friends and their families.
We kept ours pretty simple and still had a ton of enjoyment from the families. We hope you can have your own and use our article as a point of reference for some ideas. Happy Holidays from the Kookist family.