Although most adults prefer to leave their children at home with a babysitter when attending a party, there may be times when it’s necessary to bring the kids along. Parties can be difficult, stressful events for children, and nothing can derail your evening faster than a screaming two-year-old. To ensure that both adults and children enjoy themselves, it’s important to keep the kids entertained. These suggestions will keep your kids happy, and your party running smoothly.
Designate a Children’s Area
Very few three-year-olds will be able to sit quietly in the corner listening to you talk about the weather, or what auto insurance your wife just bought. It’s important to acknowledge this fact by providing children with their own, separate space to play during the party. This is ideally a designated room or rooms where children can engage with each other in age-appropriate ways. If space concerns make a dedicated kids’ room impossible or impractical, create a clearly marked, separate area just for them.
While for your adult party guests, great conversation, food, and music might be enough to sustain the evening, children often need more stimulation. While at certain points during the course of the party, a movie could be all that’s required to keep the kids entertained, you should plan other activities to keep them occupied and engaged. Some things to have on hand could include:
- Dress-up Clothes
- Video Games
- Board Games
- Craft Activities
- Coloring Books
Of course, the specific items you provide will differ depending on the ages and interests of the children at the party. Try to involve your kids in deciding what to offer. It’s best to have a wide selection of playtime items and activities on hand, particularly if children of varying ages will be in attendance.
Stick to the Schedule
Children find comfort in a consistent routine, and are very sensitive to changes in schedule. Often, something as minor as a missed snack or delayed bedtime can result in a wave of disruptive behavior. As much as possible during your party, try to honor the children’s normal routine for major daily events such as mealtimes and, where appropriate, bedtimes.
Let the Kids Play Grown-Up
Nothing excites kids more than acting like “grown-ups.” As appropriate, allow your children to partake in kid-friendly versions of the adult party activities. Serving sushi? Try making an alternative using fruit roll ups, rice krispy treats, and gummy worms. Mixing drinks? Consider offering a selection of kid-friendly “mocktails” using fruit juices and sparkling water.
While it’s not usually appropriate to integrate children into all of your party’s activities, there are times when children and adults can enjoyably co-mingle during your party. For instance, if your party includes dancing, consider allowing the kids to join in the fun. Prepare a child-appropriate playlist, or let the DJ know that children will be present during certain portions of the evening.
Depending on the size and scale of your party, and on your budget, you might consider hiring a professional entertainer to keep the kids occupied during your party. Clowns, magicians, face painters, balloon artists, and other kid-friendly acts can create a memorable event for both children and their parents.
Don’t Forget Comfort Items
Even the best parties can be stressful for children. The noise and activity are sometimes overwhelming, especially when coupled with unfamiliar surroundings. If the party is not at your house or a familiar location, be sure to bring along any comfort items your child might have. These could include favorite stuffed animals, toys, or blankets. It can sometimes be helpful to keep an extra comfort item or two in the car, which you can pull out if necessary.
Consider Hiring a Babysitter
While it might seem counter-intuitive, hiring a babysitter can be one of the best ways to keep your children entertained and out from underfoot during your party. In addition to handling basic care needs like changing diapers or refilling juice cups, a babysitter can manage craft activities, organize games, and make sure things don’t get too rowdy. Hiring a sitter is a particularly attractive option if other parents have children at the party as well. If you are comfortable splitting the bill, a dedicated babysitter at your party can be a surprisingly cost-effective option.
The next time your kids crash your party, don’t worry! Even the rowdiest children can’t ruin your evening if you have the right attitude. Most importantly, keeping the kids at your party entertained is about having fun and being flexible. With a little time and forethought, you can ensure that your youngest guests will enjoy your party just as much as you do.