These are the food, supplies, and theme ideas you need to get kids—and adults—on board with this outdoor activity.
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happy family building snowman
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Whether you live in a region where you can count on snow on the ground from October to March or in one where a heavy snowstorm is a major event, make the most of your winter weather by hosting a snowman decorating party for kids—and adults. Expert event planners Virginia Frischkorn of Bluebird Productions in Aspen, Colorado, and Elisabeth Accardi of Upon a Star in Boston, Massachusetts, tell you how to plan and produce a party that might just become your new favorite cold-weather tradition.

Spread the word.

Choosing a date for a party that depends on measurable snowfall does present a slight challenge. If you feel confident that January or February will bring enough powder, you can choose a date and send invitations well in advance; otherwise, give your invitees a heads-up that, if the weather cooperates, you'd like to host this party on a date in the future. A third choice: Pair a more spontaneous invitation with a forecast for heavy snow (especially if you can take advantage of a school snow day). "Doing this on a weekend morning versus afternoon is a great option," says Frischkorn, "as it allows one to kick off playing in the snow, followed by some sweet treats and then a sledding party or snowball fight!"

Suggest a theme.

If you're part of a group of friends who thrives on spirited competition, then turn your party into a contest—you can award prizes in categories like most detailed, most playful, most traditional, or best teamwork. But you can also keep the focus on participation, and encourage your guests to do their best with their own ideas or as part of a theme. "Just don't go out and get a kit," says Accardi. "Make it original!" She recommends using items you already have at home to create fun, festive backgrounds and outfits for your themes: Gather your summer sand buckets, beach umbrellas, bathing suits, and boogie boards for a "fun in the sun" setup; collect your outdoor athletic gear and create a lineup of snow people at the winter Olympics (think ice skates, hockey pucks, and sleds used as luges); or challenge an older group to sculpt arctic animals, their own pets, or other intricate shapes. Of course, there's always room for the classics—and modern twists. "I'd suggest having old scarves, sticks, lumps of charcoal, a big bag of carrots, and then some snow paint in water bottles so the kiddos can get creative with painting the snow, as well!" says Frischkorn. "I love adding additional fun items like big eyes and assorted large, colorful buttons."

Create a simple menu.

A few hours of playing in the snow will have all the kids—and adults—at your party ready to warm up with a hot meal. Accardi's favorite post-decorating treats include classic comfort foods that you can simplify for kids and elevate for adults. A few tasty ideas? Macaroni and cheese with a truffle option; white bread grilled cheese served alongside a panini bar with savory breads, cheese, meats, and jam; spaghetti and meatballs (with a buttered noodle option for the little ones); and a hot soup bar with warm bread bowls to serve it in. Hot chocolate with all the toppings, including whipped cream, cinnamon, peppermint sticks, is an essential, and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs can also give your guests a place to recharge and rest up for an afternoon of snowball fights, fort building, and outdoor movies (winter-themed, of course!) paired with just-popped popcorn.

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