How to hold a kid-friendly holiday party

Nov 27, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

If you're having a holiday party where a lot of kids are going to be present, you'll want to gear the event in a way that ensures everyone can enjoy themselves. Here are some easy ideas that will help create a party perfect for kids and adults alike.

children playing at holiday party

Designate a play area

Though you want the kids to feel they can partake in conversation if that's what they want to do, you don't want them feeling bored or out of place, because when they start to feel that way, they can lash out and make the party unenjoyable for themselves and those around them. By creating a designated play area with as many toys as you can reasonably collect, you give the kids somewhere they can go and entertain themselves when the adult party gets tedious. If you have kids, making a toy area is easy, but if you simply have a lot of friends with kids, ask them each to bring a few toys they think their little ones will be willing to share. You can also set up a table with paper and coloured pencils so kids can get creative and make special holiday drawings for their parents.

Pick kid-friendly foods

Whether you do the cooking yourself or have the evening catered, it's only natural to want to impress your guests with the best culinary creations you can muster. But kids aren't always interested in foie gras and stuffed mushrooms. And when kids get hungry, they can get pretty darn cranky as well, which is sure to put a damper on the evening! This doesn't mean you have to serve chicken nuggets and fries; just make sure you have a few basic options the little ones can recognize and enjoy. Swedish meatballs are a scrumptious and classy appetizer that will satisfy rumbling bellies. And to ensure the kids always have something to nibble on, vegetables, bread and dip are great options to keep on hand as well.

Serve a special drink

grapefruit mocktail

Adults tend to get creative with their cocktails around the holidays, and though most kids are perfectly happy to drink pop or juice, it doesn't hurt to have a non-alcoholic beverage option to make them feel equally important. Some of these holiday mocktails are so tasty you may even have adults fighting for a sip! Just make sure to serve them in appropriate glasses so you can keep spills to a minimum.

Get some extra help

If some of your friends have kids who require extra attention (namely, babies and toddlers), consider hiring a babysitter for the evening. This can give tired parents a much-needed opportunity to connect with their friends and take a break from running after little ones. Younger babysitters are often eager to jump at the chance to make a bit of money and let other parents know of the services they offer, so it won't cost you a fortune. Plus, you're sure to be considered the most accommodating hostess ever by your friends!