We've all been there. You're getting ready to throw a get together with friends or party at your house. Maybe you don't have family to rely on nearby to take the kids to. Maybe you have numerous adult attendees who don't have reliable childcare and would like to bring their children. Maybe it's just easier to keep the kiddos at your house and not hassle with shuttling them around.
So, you decide to keep them around during your get together or party. It's not ideal; it can be difficult. But with proper planning, it can be done. The below "plan" is designed for kids age 3 and up.
1. Plan Every Detail For The Kids In Advance. This is hard, as you are planning, cleaning, and preparing for the party for the adults! But trust me, it will save you a load of stress and heartache once the party arrives. Make a timeline and a list of all the activities, foods, games, etc. (some of these are outlined below). Ideally, hopefully you have a child or a child who is attending that is 8-10 years old that you can assign the "director" of the activities for the evening.
2. Free Play. When guests are first arriving, it's best to have a "free play" time for the kids. Hopefully you have a basement, play area, or bonus room where the kids can call their "base".
3. Gift Exchange. Again, if you have a separate room for the kids to call their own, a white elephant gift exchange can be a big hit. This will also only work if you have a responsible 8-12 year old to supervise the exchange. Make number draw cards for the number of children attending. Place in a hat and have each child draw one number. #1 picks from the gifts, but does not open it. #2 can steal from #1 or choose a new gift. The game proceeds until the last number has the ultimate control--they can choose any gift from all the previous choosers, or pick the last gift available. Put a prize limit of $5-id="mce_marker"0 per gift.
4. Treasure Hunt. Create 10-12 clues, all with a Hanukkah, Christmas, or other relevant holiday/Winter theme. Clue 1 will describe where in the house to find clue 2. Clue 2 will lead to clue 3, and so on. The children ultimately end up a treasure box filled with prizes. Make sure there are an even number of prizes for all children to have roughly the same amount.
5. Dedicated Snack Trays For The Kids. Make this fun and creative! Cut out little sandwiches in the shape of snowmen or stars. Make fruit skewers. Prepare trays that can easily be transported to the portion of the house that the children are hanging out in. It's also handy to have a small table with a pitcher or beverage dispenser for ice water, punch, etc.
6. Movie! Of course, all kids love a good movie. Pick a crowd favorite holiday movie (Home Alone, Miracle On 34th Street, Elf, etc.). Pop some popcorn, make sure the drink dispenser is filled, gather extra pillows and blankets for comfort, and they are good to go.
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