Accommodating Children at Weddings and Parties
Sitting still through a two-hour wedding ceremony or any big party where you don’t know anyone is a challenge for any adult. But it’s even more difficult for children, even when they’re on their best behavior!
Some party hosts will ask that their guests leave their children with a babysitter. They have every right to request this, but as their planner, you should gently remind them that this might stop some guests from attending. Accommodating children at large events is no easy feat! Especially if you want to ensure that parents can attend without their kids becoming bored and start bothering guests…
Let’s jump into our tips into how to accommodate children at big events!
Choose your kids carefully
Telling some guests they can bring kids and others they can’t is a risky move. At the same time, your clients should be able to invite children to be ring bearers at a wedding without feeling pressured to let every second cousin bring their gang of six. Assess how many of your clients’ friends and family members have kids. Then determine how many extra place settings they can afford. If only a few friends have children, including them with the family’s kids can be fun. If every friend has a herd of their own, limit the number of kids to those they’re actually related to.
Define the term “kid”
Once your clients have chosen whose children are welcome, help them determine what they mean by “child”. Are they prepared for infants and toddlers? Or would they rather stick to children ages five and up? This helps you make age-appropriate decisions. You don’t want to prepare snacks and activities for ten-year-olds and then find out the “kids” are all over thirteen. They might not enjoy the coloring books and animal crackers you’ve put at their place settings! The more questions you ask, the better you can come up with creative solutions!
Kid-friendly food and drink options
Not many six-year-olds will eat foie gras or filet mignon. Even if they will, they probably couldn’t finish an adult serving! Save your clients from wasting money on expensive dinners that won’t be eaten. Recommend some kid-friendly food options for the children as also adults can be effective. Dinner for young guests doesn’t have to be junk food, but serving fun finger foods can help them make it through the meal without wandering. Consider chicken fingers, mini hot dogs, and a make-your-own-sundae bar. Serve different juices, but keep in mind that they’re wearing their best clothing. Red Kool-Aid might never come out of that white dress shirt!
Seat families together
Setting up a kids-only table is risky unless it’s supervised. Grouping a bunch of eight-year-olds together unattended is just asking for loud noises or food fights. Perhaps there’s a teenage guest who wouldn’t mind sitting at the kids’ table during dinner. If not, sit families together with other families. This way, parents look over their children while socializing. It also benefits the kids. They can be with their cousins or friends rather than being split up and surrounded by adult conversations.
Hire an on-site chaperone
For big events where you’re concerned about leaving kids unsupervised, think about actually hiring an on-site babysitter. You might find family members who might volunteer to watch the kids in shifts, but paying a family friend’s eighteen year old can make for a more motivated chaperone. Having someone dedicated to breaking up arguments, drying tears, helping with bathroom breaks can set adults at ease. Not to mention it can make the difference between a fun event and a chaotic one!
The occasional kid-friendly song
You don’t want to subject your guests to Disney sing-alongs for hours. But including some popular kid-friendly songs earlier in the night will make children feel welcome on the dance floor. This can entertain everyone, keep children busy, and tire them out. Disco dancing occupies older kids for hours and encourages the youngest guests to find a quiet corner to nap in.
Keep them busy, but not too busy
Do what you can to make sure the little ones have fun. The less bored they are, the less likely they are to get into trouble. You should, however, avoid scheduling their night so rigidly with activities. Their parents still want see them! Organize fun activities that adults can encourage them to participate in, but that they can opt out of if they want to. Consider setting up a “kids’ room” with movies, crafts, dress up clothes, and games. Kids can move from activity to activity, keeping themselves, and each other, busy.
Hire kid’s entertainment
Kids have short attention spans. If you’re concerned about how long coloring and crafts will keep them busy, consider hiring kid-friendly entertainment early in the night. Magicians and character impersonators are a great way to occupy kids. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy a cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception.
Set boundaries at the event
Let parents know when and where their kids are welcome. Is the bar in a separate room than the dance floor? Have the kids enjoy themselves out on the dancefloor. Make sure to also ask that parents keep them away from the bar so guests have an adult-only space. Why not set up a separate room specifically for kids during certain parts of the night? Let parents know when they can or should take their kids there. You should also let them know if should stay with them or if they can leave them there to socialize!
A calmer space
Setting up a separate room for children is helpful for more than just keeping them occupied or contained. “Kids’ rooms” also make a great nap area for youngsters who fall asleep before their parents are ready to leave. Some planners organize a “quiet room” in addition to the kids’ room for little ones whose eyelids’ start drooping at dinner. Parents can socialize without worrying about losing track of their sleepy toddlers. Kids who are worn out from all the excitement can lie down in a quiet place so they aren’t cranky later.
Planners help reduce stress for their clients while you prepare for their event together. Deciding whether kids are welcome can be unnerving because they don’t want to offend parents, but they also want to do what’s best for their event. Help your clients accommodate children in creative ways that benefit everyone involved.
Have you ever planned an event with lots of kids? How did you manage?