If you feel like you need to call a babysitter in order to host a party, put down the phone! Consider involving your children in your next event.
But why would I want to go to there, you may ask….
First let me say, there is a wide array of research documenting the benefits that social connections have on our quality of life. In other words, nurturing close friendships is good for our well-being! Friends serve as support networks that help us reduce isolation and stress, consider different perspectives, and share feelings. This is true for children and adults.
It is for that reason and many others, that I enjoy surrounding myself with people who make me happy. My parties and events are designed to convene this important network and facilitate rich interactions. And of anyone in my social circle, it is my daughter who makes me happiest of all so it is only natural that I want her to feel a part of the group.
Since she was a toddler, my husband and I have been teaching our little girl about the importance of cultivating strong friendships and family bonds by inviting her to attend and participate in parties and social gatherings. And the truth is, entertaining with our daughter is much more fun than doing it without her! Because she is used to hosting with us, she has regular responsibilities that she carries out before anyone sets foot in our home. Whether it is putting her toys away, decorating name cards, arranging flowers, or setting the table, she loves to be involved in the planning. And once the party begins, she is like a butterfly floating from one conversation to the next.
If the thought of entertaining with children gives you major anxiety, here are some simple ways to incorporate a little one into your next event:
Set expectations in advance – I can’t stress this one enough. These are some recent examples from my life:
- “I am so happy that you will be joining us tonight! Remember that after dinner, you will follow your regular bed time routine. When you have finished your dessert, please say good night to our friends and then head upstairs.”
- “Don’t forget, when you see candles on the table it means we will be using our inside voices.”
- “Please remember to take turns with the conversation. If someone is talking then you wait, and if it is important then you say excuse me.”
If children understand what is expected, it helps them navigate a social event. They know how they should behave and there are no surprises.
Ask your child to create name cards for the guests. This is a great art activity that can incorporate stickers, markers, glitter glue, you name it! At a recent event, our daughter created the ones shown below with linen paper, metallic markers, and flower stickers.
Allow little ones to help with menu selections and appoint them “taste testers” of the party dishes. Our daughter has a special Hello Kitty apron that she wears when she is working in the kitchen. It makes her feel special and gets her excited about helping.
Ask your child to create a play list for the party (you’ll need to explain the benefits of diversifying their musical tastes so you aren’t left listening to “Let It Go” all night long!). The Family Time album by Ziggy Marley is one of our favorites followed by Greatest Hits by Harry Belafonte. Here is our daughter on the iPad putting together a party album
Ask your child to serve dessert. Our daughter loves passing out plates filled with sweets, or placing a goody tray in the center of the table – especially if she helped to prepare the dessert.
Let your child play dress up. Children have a unique take on grownup gatherings. They watch the way we dress, talk and interact through body language. They love to imitate what we do. I say, let them have fun with it! I love to let my daughter wear something special if we’re hosting or attending an event. Check out that fabulous hat below (thanks Aunt Masha)!
There are so many benefits to incorporating your children into entertaining! First, you are role modeling friendship, sharing, and manners – this is all good stuff for kids to learn early on. Second, you are showing that nurturing close relationships is one of the greatest pleasures of life – and that it continues from the school yard into adulthood. Third, you are allowing your children to build deep and meaningful relationships with your friends by giving them a seat at the table. And you’ve heard the saying, it takes a village….
So next time, instead of calling the sitter, get your kids involved in the party! It takes some advanced planning, but it is well worth it.
Entertaining Family wants to know, do you have strategies for involving your kids in special events?