By hospitality contributor Sandy Coughlin of The Reluctant Entertainer.
Summer entertaining is a beautiful time to get together with friends who have kids because you can be together in the outdoors and the kids can run and play.
I think back to the last house we lived in and the fun we had with our neighbors and all of their kids. Even though our house wasn’t big (1300 square feet), our kids had a blast playing outside on the trampoline, in the hot tub, making forts, and riding their bikes. The adults could sit around and visit while the kids ran and played.
After hours of play outside, sometimes my kids eventually resorted indoors to play video games or veg out watching a movie (which was fine with me), but overall, they found ways to be entertained.
My goal was to make our guests feel warm and welcome, include the little kids, and to be a catalyst for relaxation and connection.
Here are six tips for hosting a dinner party with kids in the mix:
1. Create a separate table for kids only (who doesn’t love the venerable “kids table”?).
2. Feed the kids right away, after they all arrive. This helps ward off grumpiness, and you can move on to the “grown-up” portion of the evening.
3. Have some activities in mind, and be prepared to help keep the kids active. See the list below for ideas!
4. Play lively music. Everyone is happier when the atmosphere is upbeat.
5. Keep snacks on hand for a few hours into the night. After their hard play, kids will be hungry again.
6. Agree ahead of time on a “family-friendly” movie for all ages (check with the other parents first). When the kids start winding down, announce that it’s “Movie time!”
10 summer activities to keep the kids busy during a dinner party:
1. Borrow extra scooters if you have sidewalks or a level driveway.
2. Set up badminton or bocce ball in the backyard (for older kids).
3. Chalk is fun in the driveway or garage.
4. Have extra wood by a large tree, and kids can build their own fort.
5. Make sure your water toys are organized and towels are clean (if you have a pool, Slip n’ Slide, or even just a hose!).
6. Frisbees are a blast — even the adults can play.
7. Encourage kids to come up with their own “show,” whatever that may be.
8. Have drawing and coloring supplies on hand.
9. Water balloons are fun, too.
10. Relay races are also a blast!
I always prepared my kids in advance for sharing their toys, and if there was anything too precious, that they didn’t want to share, they’d put it up and out of the way.
It’s a good idea to have a pep talk with your kids to remind them how to treat their guests. Kids are kids. They are constantly learning and need to be reminded of good manners.
Now I’m reminiscing again, as my kids are all teens now…
Yes, when summer was in the air, we’d all have a great time. By the end of the night, we adults would be sitting by candlelight, and kids’ would be sleeping on various pieces of furniture or even on the floor, or asleep in their mommy or daddy’s arms.
I really do miss the days of family summer dinner parties.
Do you enjoy entertaining with kids around?