Before you host a playdate this summer, check out these simple suggestions!
By Hilary, Contributing Writer
If you’re a mom, you know that both mothers and children need playdates.
Playdates give both mom and kids a chance to socialize. There’s just something about visiting with other moms as your kids roam and play with each other. Sure, there’s a lot of chaos — but there’s also a lot of fun.
The good news is you don’t have to wait to be invited to a playdate — you can host your own.
Large group logic
While I’ve hosted my share of playdates with one or two other families, some of my favorite playdates have seemed like massive groups with five to eight other families. If your home isn’t that big, you don’t have to worry about accomodating everyone. I’ll share my favorite ways to work around space restrictions.
I need to note that I don’t live in a large home. Our house is comfortable for me, my husband and our two children, but it’s a modestly-sized home. Because of the space in our home, inviting a large play group seems a bit ridiculous — only after I’ve invited everyone and find out exactly who will come.
My main rule of thumb is this: RELAX.
Everyone just wants to get together. Perfection is not expected. The kids just want to play and moms typically just want to visit (and sometimes check that their own children aren’t too out of control).
Before I host a playdate, I make sure rooms are picked up, but not spic and span. I’ve stopped worrying about vacuuming, mopping or dusting first, because your home will not look perfect when the big event is over.
I focus on cleaning the bathroom and kitchen (you never know who might end up rummaging through your fridge) and trying to make my kids’ rooms somewhat presentable.
If at all possible, I try to host group playdates during warm months so the gaggle of kiddos can eat and play outside if the weather cooperates. I simply set a few ground rules before I send everyone out to play — and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how respectfully the children listen and obey the rules. (How I appreciate good parenting!)
If it’s too cold or wet to go outside, I know it will be much louder than I planned, but it’s not the end of the world.
If I was a craftier or more organized mom, I might plan special activities for the kids. But since I’m not, the kids play — and everyone’s happy.
While I am all about green living and greening your entertaining, I stick with disposable plates and napkins at huge playdates. (Be kind to the environment by choosing paper over styrofoam or plastic.)
Since I don’t have nearly enough room at our dining room table to fit everyone — or chairs — I spread out a big blanket on the floor (or, in nice weather, our backyard) for all of the kids to have a picnic. Mamas get to sit on the chairs at the table.
When the party’s all over and your guests have gone, do a quick clean-up. Put leftovers away, straighten up your home, and your husband may not even be able to tell you entertained a herd of friends.
Image by Darnok
Easy peasy menus
Inevitably, when a bunch of kids and moms get together, they get hungry. Since I wouldn’t be a very good hostess if I didn’t offer food and drink, I plan ahead and try to take picky eaters and food allergies into account.
When I’m making my party plans, I ask all the moms if there are any food allergies, then plan accordingly.
If there are absolutely no food allergies to worry about, I’ve found that kids love:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a variety of jelly flavors to choose from (I use white and wheat bread. While I raise my kids on wheat bread, some kids refuse to eat it.)
- Fresh veggies
- Homemade cookies
- Water (Trust me, you won’t have to worry about spills!) and lemonade (for the kids who refuse to drink water …. because there will be some).
If there are allergies, I serve:
- Homemade chicken nuggets (super simple to prep ahead of time!)
- Fresh veggies
- Homemade cookies
- Water and lemonade.
I try to keep the menu as simple, healthy, and kid-friendly as possible. I like my simple menu of sandwiches or chicken nuggets, veggies and cookies because it’s all finger food and minimally messy. This way, I don’t have to worry about silverware.
For the mamas, I serve salads. While moms would eat PB&J or chicken nuggets, they always appreciate a grown-up meal.
Image by Leeroy
If space or money are issues
I love to host big groups because there are more moms to chat with, and there’s a variety of kids so you don’t have to worry if certain kiddos will get along (or not get along) with each other.
If, however, your home’s a little too cozy to host a big group (I’ve lived in my share of cramped places that have forced me to get creative with my entertaining!) don’t worry. Wait until the weather’s nice and plan a playdate in the park.
Image by taylorschlades
If your budget’s a little too tight to serve everyone and their brother (and sister), ask everyone to pack their own lunches. Really — it’s OK.
Or, you could skip lunchtime all together and plan an early morning or mid-afternoon playdate. Because of the ages and stages of my kids, I’ve found that lunchtime is naturally the best time of the day. Kids aren’t too moody or overly tired. But other kiddos might thrive at different parts of the day.
What’s really important
Most moms long for fellowship and togetherness and just want someone to plan an event. Be the mom to step up and make the plans, regardless of what you feel up to hosting. You’ll be glad you did.