• celebrate_the_holidays

How Youth Activity Centers Celebrate the Holidays

We all love to celebrate the holidays – not just the big ones like Christmas, but others throughout the year! And youth activity centers such as swim school, dance studios and gymnastics gyms are no different.

The period from October to December is like a holiday marathon. Halloween, Thanksgiving and December holidays roll quickly into one another, just as the buzz of the new school year starts to calm down. 

Celebrating the holidays is a marathon, not a sprint.

Let’s face it, the only way to push through the entire holiday season is slow and steady. It wins the race, right? It’ll also help you maintain your sanity. 

We’ve heard of special spooky Halloween dances, underwater haunted houses or haunted houses in gyms! Costumes are spotted in every type of facility – on students, teachers, owners and administrators – and maybe even parents! 

Thanksgiving is the time that we all try to return to our communities the generosity that has been bestowed upon us all year long. From collecting food and clothing for those in crisis to showing thanks to those who serve us, there are plenty of things that can be done to give back during our season of thanks. 

These types of activities can be achieved through projects done in collaboration with service organizations.

Inside your facility, Thanksgiving Trees or Giving Trees can be used to name what each of your students has done to lend a helping hand in your community. It shares the efforts of everyone in your organization and gives others ideas of ways they can give back.

But there is no letting up. On the heels of Thanksgiving comes the joyous December holidays – like directly on the heels! In addition to parties, performances, festivals, and fun decorating activities, your facility may participate in community service projects that give back to the community, too. And you have just one month to squeeze in these types of celebrations before the New Year arrives. 

So what’s the secret to getting all these things done? Planning.  

14 ways to celebrate the holidays at your youth activity center

If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate December holidays at your dance studio, swim school or gymnastics gym, here are a few ideas your may like. And, if you’re quick, you may be able to implement one or two before the season’s over! 

If you do not have time, file these away when you’re ready to begin holiday planning next year. These 14 ideas were shared with us by Jackrabbit Class clients and they are golden! 

Here’s a list of fun times that we’ve heard other organizations are having leading up to the holidays:

  1. Host an ugly sweater day – with treats for all who participate. 

  2. Decorate everywhere, inside and outside of the facility to become immersed in the holiday spirit.

  3. Do special dances, routines or games that help students celebrate Christmas.

  4. Put on big shows or performances.

  5. Participate in community festivals and shows that occur outside of your facility. 

  6. Treat your employees to extravagant staff parties.

  7. Have an Angel Tree for families to be able to provide presents for foster children.

  8. Provide day camps for students and friends that are fun options during winter break with diverse themes, such as Destination Disney, Santa’s Land, or Ninja the Elf. 

  9. Invite Santa Claus to your facility to give children ages 14 months through 8 years old a community place to visit Santa and enjoy gym facility activities. 

  10. Create gingerbread houses together in a team event you can call something like Ginger Lane and use the finished gingerbread houses as décor around your facility.

  11. Have Polar Express Week just before Christmas – with the movie being played in the foyer and a hot cocoa bar set-up for everyone. You can take it one step further and have students come to class in their favorite pajamas 

  12. Send each student home with a special bell and Season’s Greetings card from their instructor.

  13. Have service events that are common to the holidays like food, clothing and toy drives.

  14. Participate in special programs for the season that help other children – Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams, for example

There are ways to adapt almost any activity to your type of organization. Whether its dances that feature sugar plum fairies, gymnastics routines that have elves jumping about or swim activities that feature Santa on the diving board- games, decorations, sweet treats and service projects are versatile and are perfect for including in any holiday plans.    

Celebrate the holidays by cracking the Nutcracker

Dance Studios have a special and amazing opportunity each year to get in on the Nutcracker craze. 

Producing the Nutcracker is a huge undertaking but since it’s adored by so many people, any performance is sure to have plenty of interest. Plus, your students will enjoy being part of this magical show that is part of an even more magical season. 

Along with the performance (which some Jackrabbit Dance clients really do big) you can have a Nutcracker march to draw attention to your performance. If you’ve never seen a Nutcracker march, just imagine your students marching around or on the sidewalk in front of your studio in costume! Make a banner showing your performance dates and times for your toy soldiers to carry. It’s a fun and interesting marketing tactic that will peak the interests of those who drive by.

You can also sell Nutcracker merchandise to bring in some cash and to mark the event in the memories of your studio’s students, families and friends. It is very important to promote your merchandise! Using social media, you can do some fun things to show off some of your #merch (as exemplified here by Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance) and catch the eye of the Facebook public.    

Even if your dance studio doesn’t put on a production of the Nutcracker, you can use a local performance of the world-famous ballet as the prize for other activities your studio does. For example, Mint Hill Dance Center treats the student collecting the most canned goods for their Thanksgiving Food Drive with an entire evening – dinner and attending the Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker!   

How to include everyone when celebrating the holidays at your facility

For some organizations – especially those who are part of or affiliated with municipalities – religiously-centric activities and references cannot be brought into their facilities. But these folks also want to mark the season in some way that their students and families will enjoy. 

Providing a winter break is how they “give” students and families the gift of time to do the family things they want to do during December and celebrate the season as they prefer. 

Regardless of how it’s done, everyone can celebrate the season of giving regardless of where your source of that giving spirit is.  

About the Author:

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After studying graphic design at the University of Georgia, Jill held several positions in media and marketing including Art Director, Editor and Marketing Director. As a student of dance, she has spent plenty of time in children’s activity centers and puts that experience to work for her in the work she does with Jackrabbit. In addition to her interest in dance, Jill also enjoys sports, gourmet cooking, entertaining, singing and spoiling her five grandchildren.

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