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How to host a play date that is easy and fun

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Play date success!

When it comes to hosting a play date, it's important to stick to a few rules. First, keep it simple, and secondly, have fun! Aside from that, moms may be wracking their brains with what to do, what to serve and how to entertain your own kids as well as several others for a few hours. Follow these simple tricks and everyone will be begging for another play date at your house!

play-date

Less is more

This phrase just applies to so many things -- including play dates! If you have more than one child of your own, consider adding only three more children, at the most, to the mix. Try to keep the age of the children within the same range. A one-year-old and a four-year-old may not have the same interests, for example.

Have an agenda, but be flexible

Make sure you have plenty of ways to keep the children occupied during the time you have allotted for their visit. Be realistic about the amount of time the children will want to spend on any given activity.

If you have space in your home, try to set up little stations, such as a coloring/drawing table, an area with soft balls and a homemade goal or basket (Halloween trick-or-treat candy buckets and Easter baskets hung on the wall work great!), and a craft table stocked with construction paper, pre-cut felt or foam shapes, cotton balls, colorful pipe cleaners, macaroni, googly eyes and double-stick tape or glue sticks, depending on the age range. Make sure you can have your eyes on all stations at all times.

Snack time

Provide yummy and healthy snacks, but make sure you check with the other moms to make sure your snacks won't offset their children's mealtime. Set out bowls of halved grapes, apple "fries," whole grain crackers and perhaps some animal cookies.

Avoid separation anxiety

If the moms are not staying for the play date, be sure the children are comfortable with you before they say goodbye. Encourage the children to bring their blankies or other security items, and be sure to reiterate that their moms are coming back very soon. Then distract them with some fun!

Let the moms know they are welcome to stay if their child is acting a little sheepish, and be sure to have adult snacks and beverages on hand as well. If the moms are just dropping their children off to play, make sure you have their phone numbers in case of an emergency or if their child really wants to go home.

Keep the play date short and sweet. Two hours is just about the perfect amount of time for young kids of most age groups.

More on play dates

Secrets of a successful play date
How to steer clear of bad play dates: The nine moms to watch out for
Quick, easy lunch spots after a play date


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