How to Plan a Family-Friendly Holiday Party
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It’s easy to keep the kids occupied at a child’s birthday, since those parties are all about the kids. But what to do when the holidays approach and you want to throw a party for kids and grown-ups? This article will provide tips and ideas so everyone can enjoy the party—even the hosts!
Planning the Party
You’ll actually be planning two parties; one suited for grown-ups and one suited for their pint sized counterparts. Start by considering the spaces in your house. Where would you like the kids to be for the bulk of the party? Jot down the rooms in your house and “assign” a group to each room (more on how to keep them there later). Your list might look like this:
To keep the kids in their areas for the most part, you’ll want to have food and activities right there. Set up a snack table in the family room with treats just for the kids (this also allows you to set up a more elegant grown-up table in another room that is pigs-in-blanket-free). The family room can also have a holiday craft or group activity set up for the kids to do.
If you are going to have more than one kid room, set the secondary room up with quieter independent activities. Have a table set up in the playroom with coloring books, crayons and holiday themed books.
Try not to make television an ongoing activity for the night, as it will tend to just be extra noise. Instead, plan on a certain time and a certain movie later in the party. If you’d like to have a more formal meal with the adults, this would be an ideal time to put on a Christmas classic for the kids. Or as a relaxing activity if the kids will be up past bedtime (you can even suggest parents bring the kids pajamas to change into).
Once you have come up with activities for each room, update your list with each room’s function, such as this:
Living room—adults—visiting room
Dining room—adults—set up for dinner at 8pm
Study—adults—small open bar set up
Family room—kids—snack table and ornament making activity table—video at 8
Playroom—kids—coloring and book table
By keeping the kids and adults in different zones, you can get creative with your menus. Perhaps a sugar plum themed table for the kids, and a table of hors d’oeuvres and champagne for the grown-ups. You also can have fun by creating a finger food buffet for the kids too, with kids favorites presented like grown up fare (pb&j finger sandwiches on silver trays anyone?)
- Make lots of lists. Being organized will allow you to get everything done and to budget your time so you aren’t rushing around when the first guests arrive. Start a master to-do list with all the things you need to do and buy. Then create a master calendar and assign errands/duties for each day. Then break your master list down to smaller checklists to be sure you don’t miss anything.
- Start early. The best way not to stress is to plan the party early so you can tackle a bit each day. Why not buy the kids' craft materials a month ahead? Then you can check it off the list and not be so prone to last minute party stress. Also, have everything you can do the day before the party done the day before the party. The day of the party is not the time to start cleaning! You can have tables set up, activities laid out, much of the food prepped the night before the party, allowing you to be rested for the fete.
- Hire a teenager to help with the kids. If you will be having a large group of kids, hire a neighborhood teenager to watch the kids and help with the snacks and the activity table. This way, you’ll have a chance to mingle and enjoy your party too.
- Don’t aim for perfection. Those magazine picture-perfect parties only exist in magazines. In the real world, any party with kids will have its share of spilled drinks and bonked heads. Plan for them the best you can, aim for fun instead of flawless, and your guests both big and small will have a delightful time at your party.