Christmas Sleepover Activities

Every year, we host a Christmas sleepover for our girls at the church where we meet. We don’t worry about earning badges or awards or learning anything – just having lots of holiday fun! This is everything we did and all the games we played this year.

Gift exchange: our older girls each brought a wrapped gift with a limit of ten dollars and did the white elephant exchange game. The Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors all brought wrapped holiday socks and I read one of those right/left holiday stories. This year I found one that had across in it, so that was a great way to make sure the gifts got good and mixed up and nobody got their own. It was called Christmas with the Right Family. Some of the girls weren’t so excited about the idea of socks so I suggested nail polish but we had several who didn’t like that idea at all so socks it was.

Making cookies: we just mixed up five batches of sugar cookie dough, gave each girl a ball and some cookie cutters, and let them go for it. The church we meet at lets us use the kitchen whenever we need to so we baked them that night and sent them home with everyone in the morning.

Candy Cane relay: We split the girls up into two lines and handed everyone a candy cane. They held it in their mouth by the straight end with the hook pointing upwards. Starting at one end of the line, they had to pass another candy cane from girl to girl WITHOUT USING THEIR HANDS by grabbing it with the candy canes in their mouth.

Rudolph game: I tied yarn around red pom poms and gave one to each girl. Then they each got a glob of Vaseline on their nose and had to hold the string in their mouth and flip the pom pom onto their nose. It’s actually pretty hard, but several of my girls got it multiple times and the Vaseline sticks really well.

Santa Belly Bust: Each girl got a blown up and tied balloon that she had to stick under her shirt. This was her Santa belly. The first person to bust their Santa belly was the winner. I got this idea here – Top 10 Funny Christmas Party Game Ideas

Christmas Family Feud: This game was just for the older girls and my mom said she thinks they really enjoyed it! My posters for the surveys were very simple – I cut a poster board into quarters, and on each one I stuck sticky notes for the number of answers and just wrote the answer and number of points underneath it. My mom played Steve Harvey and had a notecard with her that had the answers and their numbers on it so she would know which sticky note to pull off. Here are a bunch of links to several good sites with lots of Christmas surveys already put together so you just have to pick the ones you want – Christmas FeudChristmas Family FeudHoliday Family Feud Game

Icing Christmas trees: I had to mix up my own green icing with some food coloring because Walmart didn’t have any, but each girl got an ice cream cone and a small pack of M&Ms. They just smeared the icing on the cones with some plastic knives and then stuck the M&Ms on for ornaments. Super messy but lots of fun! I originally saw this idea on Pinterest but there’s the link to the original poster – Preschool Christmas Crafts.

Saran Wrap ball: This was the game I think everyone had the most fun with. My brother and I made this huge ball of saran wrap with candy wrapped up inside of it. There was a grand prize in the middle (ours was a bag of mini Kit Kats – round ish objects work best!) and several layers of wrap in between each candy. The girls all sat in a circle and one girl started unwrapping. She got to unwrap until the girl next to her rolled doubles on some dice, then pass it on. Any candy she uncovered was hers to keep! We used nearly all of a 300 square foot roll of Saran Wrap and it went around our circle of 21 girls almost 3 1/2 times. This got extremely intense near the end but it was so funny to watch! Here’s a picture of our ball:

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Finally, one of the older girls was nice enough to bring her nail polish collection and some cheap lipstick and eye shadow, so the girls got to paint their nails and we helped them with the eye shadow and lipstick.

We didn’t have a TV this year, so we couldn’t put on a movie to get them to settle down. As a result, they stayed up pretty late. I think we got everyone laying down at around one but I had some who stayed up giggling quite a bit longer. Despite that, I think everyone had fun and that this year was a success.

Cadette Babysitter badge and Daisy Be a sister to every Girl Scout petal

For the older girls to earn their Babysitter badge, we tried something a little different. Pretty much all of our girls had experience babysitting; most of them are the oldest kid in their family, so they have a pretty good idea of how to watch after children. So we had them work together to plan and lead a meeting for the little girls. One thing I always admire and am forever thankful for is how good the big girls have always been with the Daisies and Brownies. I know it’s not exactly common for troops to have all levels (at least not in our area) and they’re always willing to let them tag along on hikes and play games while we’re on camping trips. Most of them have several adoring fans among the younger troop. But leading actual activities is very different.

They chose to do the Be a sister to every Girl Scout petal. Trying to figure out how to begin the meeting was probably their rockiest part. All of them seemed very hesitant to step up and be the one to start talking and telling everyone what to do. Someone finally did, and they spent a few minutes talking to the girls about sisterhood and what it means. I loved the definition they settled on: sisterhood is like best friends forever, but just for girls – no boys allowed! The girls really liked the idea of having tons of Girl Scout sisters (they haven’t learned their Law yet and apparently don’t pay attention the words very well).

The next thing they did was make friendship bracelets. Every girl made a bracelet that they stuck in a bucket, and then went around and closed their eyes and drew out a different one. Each girl went home with a special friendship bracelet made by one of her Girl Scout sisters.

After that, the girls all played Little Sally Walker for a few rounds. I thought the way L (one of my Cadettes who really surprised us and stepped up to lead) introduced it was really cute – she yelled “How many of you guys know a girl named Sally Walker?” It took them a few minutes, but then they all circled up really quickly. This game is always a hit. I was away while they were doing this, but they wrote, “Compare this to being connected through sisterhood,” next to it.

The Cadettes ended the meeting by having the girls make a friendship circle like usual, except before they went around with the squeeze, each girl had to turn to the girl sitting next to her and compliment her.

When I talked to them afterwards, they had a lot of mixed feelings about their day as leaders. “It’s so hard to get their attention” and “They didn’t always listen to what we said” are two things I heard a lot. They told my mom that they would never ever again talk while she was talking because they understand now how difficult it is! L (mentioned above) said she felt like she was being mean the entire time because she kept having to raise her voice over girl chatter – some of it from her fellow Cadettes. No troop is perfect, and we had several who kind of shirked their leadership duties today and may not earn a badge for this one. The group said they were satisfied with their meeting plan, except that they didn’t expect the little girls to take so long making their bracelets and had to spend less time on Little Sally Walker than they wanted.

Overall, I think the meeting went pretty well. I did have several of my girls checking with me to make sure I wasn’t quitting and would be back in charge next week (I’m not going to lie, it was a nice little ego boost). The older girls seemed like they gained a little respect for what me and my mom do every week and the younger girls got some bracelets and earned a petal – and I got to relax a little bit for this week!

My Own Journey to Accepting Journeys

I’m going to be completely honest – I am not a huge fan of either the Journeys or the new patch programs. I miss the Brownie Try-Its that I earned as a child, and the huge IP book that was waiting for me when I got to Cadettes. The new patches don’t have enough variety for me. They used to have a Try-It for every activity you could think of and more. There was a little something for everyone to enjoy. The new badges have so many of them focused on business type things and topics and themes that aren’t anywhere near as fun. I know that it’s important to learn practical lessons from Scouting, but the fun stuff is what keeps girls around for years to come.

However, my dislike for the Journeys overwhelmed even my disappointment in the badges. I was in the process of earning my Silver Award when they were implemented, which means I got to skip doing one for that and I was over the moon. I hate their formatting – they remind me (and my girls) of school work and my girls are never interested in sitting down and listening to me read them a story like all of the Journeys have at their core. So our troop has actively avoided them since they became a thing.

However, I want my girls to have the chance to earn everything and anything they can. And I have two Juniors in fifth grade this year that want a Bronze Award. So we’re starting to dive into Journeys.

The more I read about them, the more I’m okay with them – just not in the format handed to me by Girl Scouts. We are not about to spend meetings listening to stories about the Flower Friends hanging out in gardens. (I tried that for the petals and was asked “Do we really have to listen to a story again this week?”) We’re going to spend meetings being active and doing things, because that’s what little girls (and big ones!) like to do.

What I’ve discovered about Journeys is that to figure out what you NEED to do, you need to focus on the awards within each one. Figure out their requirements, and let those tell you where you need to go. Just pick and choose the ideas you want from the books because their sessions are mostly a lot of nothing. I’ve managed to hunt down these “Journey Tip Guides” from the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois that break down the awards and their requirements. When I make my posts about the Journeys we earn, I’ll include links to the PDFs for that and anything else I have that helped me rework the Journey into something my girls would want to do. It sucks that we have to go to such great lengths to work with these materials, but we’re Girl Scout leaders – the most resilient, creative, hardworking people there are – and if anyone can do it, we can!

Fall 2016 Recap

So this second half of 2016 has seen us going everywhere as a troop. The older girls went to San Antonio for a weekend and did Six Flags and took a ghost tour. We took our little girls to NASA in Houston for their “I Camped in Space” program, went camping, took a (free) tour of a sea turtle facility in Galveston, spent a day at  Schlitterbahn (also in Galveston), went roller skating (a HUGE hit with my girls), took the Brownies (and one Junior we snuck in) to the Brownie Magic day event, and our Cadettes returned just today from Forensics Weekend!! We also threw a birthday party for our founder Juliette Gordon Lowe with a Halloween theme and are only one week away from our annual Christmas Sleepover.

In between all of these adventures, we did find time to earn badges and awards. Because we have multiple levels meeting together and not nearly enough manpower to separate them, it takes a bit of coordinating to make sure every level is getting to earn something. But we manage! So far our girls have earned:

  • Daisies – 5 Flowers, 4 Stories, 3 Cheers for Animals Journey, Honest and Fair petal, Friendly and Helpful petal
  • Brownies – Home Scientist badge, Pets badge
  • Juniors – Camper badge, Animal Habitats badge, Junior Girl Scout Way badge
  • Cadettes – Special Agent badge, Public Speaker badge, Entrepreneur badge, and they’re about to finish their Babysitter badge
  • Seniors – Behind the Ballot badge
  • Ambassadors – nothing yet, but they’re about to wrap up the Photographer badge and Water badge