It’s that time of year when we gather with friends, family and neighbors to celebrate the season. It’s a great time to spend quality time with everyone – including the kiddos. However, when hosting multiple generations and families it is no simple task to keep everyone entertained and to keep the kids from bouncing off the walls! No matter what type of gathering you are hosting it helps to be prepared for the under 12 set. Here are 10 tips for hosting a kid-friendly get-together.
1. Schedule It
When deciding on a date and time, you will want to consider your younger guests. Generally, the younger the kids are, the earlier the gathering should be. It may be better to host a Sunday morning brunch rather than a Saturday night dinner party. You may also want to check with other parents and plan ahead to choose the optimal day and time of the gathering. Check to see if there are community events or activities that would prevent several families from attending.
2. Keep it Small (Manageable)
Depending on the size of your immediate or extended family, this may be no easy task. But, if you have control over your guest list, think about keeping it at a manageable size. That way you can talk with each guest and make sure everyone has a spot to sit comfortably.
3. Enlist Your Kids’ Help
Depending on your kids’ ages there are several tasks that they can help out with. If your home is like ours, there are stacks of school papers and piles of toys everywhere. Ask your kids to start clearing the clutter days ahead of time so you feel less stressed the day of the gathering. They can also help with food prep. My son loves to make (and eat) bacon-wrapped little smokies. So when we are serving them, I put him in charge of making them.
4. Review the “House Rules”
Again, enlist your own kids to help. If there are certain rooms of the house that are off-limits, like Dad’s office, you will need to let everyone know. If kids can’t eat in the living room, again, you will need to communicate this to the kids (and their parents). On the flip side, this is a time to have fun and relax. Spills and stains will inevitably happen, whether kids are invited to the get together or not.
5. Serve Kid Friendly Food
It’s just a fact, kids are picky eaters. On Thanksgiving, you would think it would be easy to make sure that every guest, from two to 82, is well-fed and happy at the end of the day — what’s not to like about turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans? However, I know many a kid that would turn up their nose at several of these foods. To keep kids from starving (and your sanity) it’s not a bad idea to keep some kid friendly foods on hand.
6. Set a Table Just for the Kids
When you’re expecting more than three kids under the age of 12, and they’re old enough to take care of themselves (minus the use of sharp knives), set up a small table just for the kids. Get them excited and involved in setting the table by having them make their own placemat or have them be in charge of a centerpiece and setting the table. Make it so festive and fun that everyone (even the adults) will want to sit at the kids table.
7. Plan Something Crafty
The best way to ensure your young party guests have fun over the holidays is to keep them busy. If they run off to play with cousins, great — but that’s not always the case. To ensure that the kids aren’t clinging to their parent’s legs (Because mom and dad need to have fun, too!), organize a couple of projects that will keep kids occupied. You can print out coloring sheets, lay out pipe cleaners, stickers, stamps, craft kits or other fun holiday themed activities.
8. Plan a Family Activity
For many the holidays is one of the few times of year when everyone has a chance to come together. Use that to your advantage, and plan for an activity or two that both the youngest and oldest family members can enjoy. For example, my brother and I loved paying Spoons and Monopoly with our cousins as kids. As we got older, we started playing Trivial Pursuit and our parents and grandparents would play too. Depending on the weather, you can take it outside and play a game of touch football or go sledding.
9. Have a Movie on Hand
When in doubt, a movie works wonders when it comes to keeping kids entertained. Pull out the latest blockbuster or holiday classic. If the little ones are young, and you know their favorite film will keep them enthralled for an hour (or put them to sleep), go with what works.
10. Relax and Enjoy!
While kids can make a get-together seem a bit more frenzied, they also make it more fun. Get-togethers are about connecting. Take a deep breath and remember that your get-together isn’t about serving the most delicious food and presenting the perfect home. Your friends and family are there to enjoy each other’s company and they’re just interested in hanging out and having fun.
Do you have anything to add to the list above? Let us know in the comments below!