If you’re planning a party where the guest list is all children, staying within the kid theme is simple. All the food, games, and decorations are chosen for the kiddos. But if you’re planning an event—like a family birthday or bridal shower—where both children and adults are in attendance, what do you do? How do you plan for kids at your event when it’s not a kid’s event?
Before we dive into the event itself, we are of course going to talk about invitations. If you’re hosting an event for grownups, and you don’t want children to attend—make sure the invitation clearly states that. You don’t want someone bringing kids to your event when you’re not prepared for them.
And if you are hosting a kid-friendly celebration, make sure to get a head count of both parents and children! This will let you know how much to get for both groups, and how much space you’ll need for them, too.
Now, let’s pretend the invitations are all back and you have your headcounts. Having adult and kids at your event isn’t difficult. There are, however, a few guidelines you should consider while you’re planning your event.
IF YOU’RE HOSTING AT HOME
Plan specific things to do
Whether your event is indoors our outside, make sure there are things for the kids to do. Don’t think, “The kids can play with each other outside.” Instead, have specific outdoor games ready, like cornhole and croquet. Or if you’re planning for indoor entertainment, bring out board games or a gaming console.
If you give the kids something they can do, they won’t go looking for something they shouldn’t do. Plus, group activities like cornhole and board games mean everyone can join in—even the shyer kids. When kids see other kids playing together, it encourages them to join the fun.
Check your attic
What toys and games do you have stored away up there? Maybe you have toys from your childhood, or even your kids’ toys they outgrew. Bring ’em down! It’s totally okay to work with what you already have.
April did just that! April is a Content and Support Adviser for Eventective, and she’s spent over two years planning kids events—from groups of 5 kids to over 50! She put those skills to use at home, too. Family friends were over visiting one night with their young daughters, but April didn’t need to rush out and get something for the girls to do. Instead, she went upstairs:
“I had toys in the attic from when I was a child. I brought two crates down for the little girls, and they loved that. They were totally content the entire time. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; can be as simple as even balloons.”April I., Eventective Content & Support Adviser
It really can be as simple as using what you already have!
IF YOU’RE HOSTING AT A VENUE
Ask about kid-friendly activities
If you’re hosting at a venue, check with the venue before grabbing any kid-friendly games. First and foremost, the venue might have rules about bringing off-site toys and other items. So by checking first, you won’t be left without games on the day of.
Second, the venue may already have kid-friendly toys or programs running that the kids at your event can use. This makes it easier for you—because now you don’t have to entertain the kids and the adults. It never hurts to ask, so you can plan the best event possible!
Have a dedicated play area
If you’re having kids at your event, you don’t have to choose a kid-only venue. Just choose one that’s kid friendly. It can have a playground or indoor play area. What’s important is that there’s something for the kids to do—and it’s clear where that space is.
April’s experience has her saying the same thing:
“[The kids] will go off and find something to do, and if you’re at a restaurant or venue, you don’t want them to do that. Choose a venue that has a pool or fun zone or park. “April I., Eventective Content & Support Adviser
Having a designated spot for the kiddos is more fun for everyone! Plus, parents will know where to pick up their kids at the end of the event.
WHEREVER YOU’RE HOSTING
Have extras of everything
And we mean everything—forks, napkins, plates, and especially favors. Of course, you still need a headcount (that’s how you know you have extra). But be prepared for forks to get thrown out, or cups to be spilled. And have some extra favors hidden under a table or in the back. That way, if someone accidentally breaks it, they don’t have to go home empty handed.
Have a dedicated babysitter
Of course, with kids at your event, you won’t need a traditional babysitter to watch closely. But if the kids are in a separate kid zone, or if the adults have their own activities, have one or two co-hosts watch the kids. This gives peace of mind to the parents, and keeps the kids from getting into too many shenanigans.
Do be sure to introduce the babysitters to the parents—either to the group at the very beginning, or as the parents drop off the kids. You want the adults to enjoy the celebration as well!
Having kids at your event can be a lot of fun! Parents don’t have to find childcare, and it’s a great way for the whole family to do something together. But as the host, the responsibility lies with you to plan something that’s both kid- and adult-friendly.
Do you think you’re up for the challenge? What activities are you planning to keep the kids occupied?