Hosting your first playdate can be a bit intimidating. Now that I feel like a seasoned pro, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve come to consider the best recipe for playdate success.
1. Invite kids of a similar age
For your first stab at play-dating, invite kids close in age to your own. If siblings of other ages are coming, that’s fine, but try to have at least two or three similarly aged kids attending.
2. Keep the guest list small to medium-sized
Too many kids will lead to chaos in the house, while too few will result in shirt-tugging whines of “I’m boreeeed…” I think between 3 and 5 kids is the perfect number.
3. Give proper thought to snacks
If you don’t know already, be sure to ask the parents if their kids have any food-related allergies. I knew nut products were dicey, but I once put out a bowl of fruit for 2 kids who turned out to be allergic to cantaloupe and were too young to know it. So, heed my warning and check with parents in advance.
I would start by offering two different kinds of crowd-pleasers, like apples and pretzels. Have backups such as cheese sticks or different flavors of yogurt in the fridge in case enthusiasm for your first choices wanes.
4. Think about the younger siblings
If any of the parents have an infant, make efforts to accommodate the baby. I keep a pack and play and a baby swing at my house for friends who have little babies. Make sure an upstairs bedroom is clean in case the mom feels more comfortable nursing in private.
For crawlers, assign an area where no small choking hazard items will be allowed and tell your kids as much in advance.
5. Make toys easily accessible
Have complete sets of toys, games, and puzzles easily accessible to the kids. Be sure to put out stuff that doesn’t require your assistance.
6. Have a backup plan
If the chemistry among the kids just isn’t there that day, and they can’t seem to keep themselves content, have a trick or two up your sleeve. I like to keep craft kits stashed away in the closet.
If I notice the kids aren’t loving their time and the parents aren’t ready to leave, I’ll pop these out and triumph as everyone’s hero.
7. Avoid TV mistakes
If your backup plan flops and the kids just can’t seem to get into a playing groove, offer TV. While it is a good last resort for playdates, do not, under any circumstances, ask the kids what they want to watch.
You’ll find yourself engaging in United Nations-level diplomacy over Zootopia versus Boss Baby. Mom picks the movie, or there is no movie!
Playdates are just as important for the moms as for the kids, largely for the same reasons. They help all parties pass time, engage socially, and build camaraderie. Don’t take it too seriously, and don’t get wrapped up in the pressure of having a perfectly clean house or home-made organic snacks. Follow these simple guidelines, and I’m sure you’ll have success.