The dinner party is a decidedly grown-up institution, and one that doesn’t typically include much room for guests of the pint-sized persuasion.
As more working parents are finding they have less time to spend with their kids, they also are becoming more reluctant to spend what precious little free time they do have away from them. However, parents still need to interact with their friends too, so it becomes very important to learn the ropes of including kids at your next sit-down shindig. If you don’t have children of your own, it can be even more difficult to understand exactly how you should entertain the smaller set, but it isn’t impossible and you shouldn’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed.
Contemplate the Cuisine
If the menu prominently features foie gras, ripe cheeses or escargot, preparing an additional menu for the smaller people with less adventurous taste buds is non-negotiable. While you don’t have to plop reheated frozen chicken nuggets or corn dogs onto a plate to satisfy kids’ appetites, you will need to take into account the fact that most children are picky and simply will not touch anything they can’t identify. Making sure that there are a few kid-friendly favorites on hand will ensure that all of your guests are well-fed and satisfied.
Kids’ Tables are Your Friend
While some parents prefer for their children to socialize with the adult guests over dinner, most understand the necessity of a kids’ table. There’s no reason why you can’t share a conversation that’s intellectually stimulating for the adults without fielding cries of boredom and bouts of pouting. Just create a dining environment that makes kids feel special, rather than shuffled off. In most cases, they’ll be thrilled with the opportunity to mimic the adults by exhibiting independence at their own table, away from Mom’s laser stare.
Create a Kid-Friendly Soirée Space
Choose a room or area of your house that isn’t filled to the brim with breakable bric-a-brac, and fill it with small toys and distractions for your youngest guests. Coloring books and crayons, board games or other playthings will give kids something to do while the grown-ups talk that doesn’t require them to stare glassily at a television screen while something animated flickers in their little faces. That being said, it isn’t an altogether bad idea to have a kid-friendly video or two on hand for emergency use; just make sure that none of your parenting guests have rules restricting screen time before whipping out your party-preserving feature film.
Consider a Sitter
If you’re planning a night to remember and want to ensure that the kids are entertained while the adults enjoy themselves, the best course of action may very well be to hire a sitter for the evening. Depending on the number of children you expect to have in attendance, you may even want to spring for two. Make sure that you choose a caregiver who will be actively engaged with the kids, rather than a disinterested supervisor. Remember, you want the kids to have a great time too.
Be Patient and Maintain Your Composure
Hosts and hostesses without children of their own can host kid-welcoming events too; it just takes a bit more preparation. If you don’t spend much time with children, you’ll want to make sure that you keep in mind the importance of being calm and patient. There will almost certainly be more noise and excitement than you’re accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself over to it and enjoy the unique evening for what it is.