Have you noticed that many parties today are family affairs? This means hosting a party includes entertaining not only other adults, but their offspring (and maybe their parents) as well.
While it's great to be able to spend even more time with our kids and our friends' kids at family parties, more bodies (regardless of size) mean more work.
And when you have to cater to different interest levels and food preferences, a "simple" gathering just keeps getting less simple.
These tips for kid friendly family parties can help make sure things are festive for everyone.
Most adult parties are boring for kids. No clowns. No balloons. They just don't get what we enjoy about talking to each other over a glass of wine or a martini and nibbling smelly shrimp and cheese.
To keep kids from running wild at your soiree, plan ahead - starting with your own children.
Remind your children that parties are a grownup event that requires proper behavior on their part. No running. No loud voices. No roughhousing. "Pretend that you are a prince or princess for the evening", would be a good directive.
Put breakables on higher shelves before party time commences. Anything that can be bumped off or into and broken will be. Move delicate possessions to higher ground until the party stampede is over.
If candles are part of the festive decor, place them out of reach of curious little hands. Fireplace candles or lighters should go atop the mantel, not alongside the firewood in easy reach of the toddler set.
Put all pets away for the evening, to protect them - and your guests. Yeah, they're cute, but dogs and cats can get nippy when mauled by 2-year-olds. More fragile animals like hamsters or birds could be injured.
You'll also lessen the risk of someone accidentally letting a pet escape if you put pets in a safe place during family parties.
Set aside a study or den as a dedicated play area for kids where they can be kids. Equip it with a few toys, videos, computer games, coloring books, and crayons; anything that will entertain them safely.
The kids don't have to stay there - that would be unsociable. But at least you've provided a kid-friendly environment where they can amuse themselves. Be sure to provide a separate teens-only space away from the little kids to make grumpy teens smile.
If you can possibly find a babysitter for your family parties, do it. Your neighborhood high schooler could probably entertain the mini-masses nicely for a few hours - at a bargain rate. It's well worth your investment. It might even save your carpet.
Be sure to include a few kid-friendly foods, like carrots, cheese, Goldfish, peppers, popcorn, and pretzels.
If you're having a dinner party, a good bet for the kids would be grilled chicken and burgers, stovetop mac and cheese, cheeseburger sliders, or cheese pizza.
Make or buy some special drinks for the kids, like lemonade or juice boxes, or buy some "kid champagne" (a.k.a. sparkling cider).
Be sure to create a kids' table where the younger set can reach their special snacks. This way, they won't be dripping dip all over the adult fare.
One way of keeping the kiddies happy is to give them each a little gift. It amuses them for a while, and their parents will love you. It's one of the easiest ways to ensure your family parties are a hit with everyone.