I love entertaining friends and family in my home, especially during the holidays. But I must admit, it can be a bit overwhelming hosting a dinner party in the stage of life with little ones running around. The cooperation I receive from my toddlers is a significant factor in how efficient I am on a daily basis. Add in hosting a party, and it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself wanting to gather friends for a festive evening, here are my tried-and-true tips for entertaining with young children:
1. Choose an easy to prepare meal, consider a catering service, or do potluck. Now is not the time you need to emulate Martha Stewart. Instead, break out the paper plates and plastic cutlery for easy clean up. Your guests will understand, especially if they have young children. The party should be about the importance of gathering friends and family. It is about displaying hospitality, not entertaining. Your goal is to enjoy your time together and fill those stomachs!
2. Check all your décor that is in reach of those little hands! If you are expecting small children, put away breakable or sentimental items you do not want damaged. This will keep everyone’s stress level down so your guests can enjoy the party without worrying their child might break something.
3. Have some child friendly activities planned to keep your young attendees entertained. Games, arts and crafts, or simply letting that youthful energy exert itself in the backyard will be a win-win for everyone! As the playing dies down and eyes become droopy, gather the children in one room with pillows and blankets for a fun movie. They will be asleep before you know it!
4. Set the party time for early evening and plan to serve the food as soon as guests begin arriving which will keep the little ones from getting cranky. Young children often go to bed right after dinner, so starting your party early will allow the adults to fully participate without feeling as though they will miss all the fun!
5. Depending on what type of event you are hosting, you might tell your guests to bring pajamas for their children. We do this with our close friends, and everyone loves it. The evening ritual prep has already been accomplished before they leave the party, so when you arrive home those bundles of joy that fell asleep in the car are easy to plop into their beds.
Although it can seem daunting at first, I want to encourage you to keep entertaining the people you love, even if you are in the stage of life where small children will be running around! The memories made and the fellowship to be had are priceless. For both you and your children.
Mom to 2 toddlers and loving wife