Holidays and special events are a great time for family and friends to spend time and celebrate together. Whether you are planning to host Thanksgiving this year or are going out to a family or friend’s house (or two) to enjoy the day, it can be stressful trying to get through the day with young children around. Here are some tips to make the day run smoothly and be fun for guests of all ages.
When You’re the Host
If there are enough children attending, provide a space such as a “Kid’s Table” for the children to eat at. This will allow the adults to be near, provide assistance, and keep a watchful eye over everyone, while still being able to enjoy the company of the other adults. Create a fun atmosphere for the children by using themed plates and utensils for them. To keep them entertained while you wait for meals to be ready, use construction paper instead of placemats or a table cloth and let the children draw fun pictures. Depending on the age of the children, you can task them with fun activities such as drawing pictures of what they are thankful for this year.
Feed the children first. Suggest that families begin making their children’s dishes first before the adults begin to dive into the delicious meal. Ensuring that the children are seated and enjoying their meal allows the adults to enjoy their meals and will help prevent grumpiness from hungry children. If you are going to be providing a meal later in the evening, be sure to have kid-friendly snacks to hold the children over until the main course is ready. If your family celebrates Thanksgiving all day and night, be sure to have snacks on hand to serve later in the day or evening when hunger may strike again!
Plan fun activities. Whether it’s for just the children or everyone, ensure that you have activities planned to keep your guest entertained, especially the younger ones! Set up a play area for children that include crafts and fun games or plan to watch a movie with yummy snacks such as popcorn and let everyone enjoy.
If you have the space, set up a “kid friendly zone” for the children to play and participate in fun activities. This will allow children to have fun and let out their energy without having to worry about them running around in areas where they could break things or injure themselves or others. In addition, families can also make it known that the kitchen is a “kid free zone”, especially while cooking. Depending on the ages of the children, it may be easier to keep the kids away from the kitchen so the adults can prepare the meals and snacks without worrying about little hands getting into things they shouldn’t.
When You’re Attending
If your children are old enough, be sure they understand the expectations you have for them regarding having good manners while attending your Thanksgiving celebrations. Families can also practice this during family meal times at home or when going out to dinner at a restaurant.
If the person hosting doesn’t normally have children in their home, or your children are the only children who are likely to be there, plan to bring some essentials such as toys and activities to help keep your children entertained. Even though the host may have activities planned, it may be helpful to have your child’s favorite toy or game handy in the event they aren’t as interested in the activities as you would hope.
What are some of your favorite tips for hosting a successful kid-friendly event that you would share with other families?