As a parent of two kids under four, meal time is not always enjoyable. From the baby flinging yogurt on the walls to negotiating with the toddler for how many more bites until he gets dessert, it can be downright painful. Inviting guests over to witness this chaos is not something I would subject just anyone to. Hosting a dinner party with kids is still possible though and here are some tips to help you throw a dinner party that will keep you relaxed and stress free.
- Plan a make-ahead menu – although we love to grill, babysitting meat is not always possible when you have to wrangle kids and entertain guests. Find recipes that don’t have to be watched and that can allow you to do much of the prep ahead of time. Your oven is your best friend in situations like this. Or better yet try a crockpot recipe so that all the prep work can be done and cleaned up that morning.
- Potluck – if your guests offer to bring something take them up on it! Salads, desserts or bread are all great things they can bring that will free up lots of time on your end.
- Cook something the kids will love – no one wants to hear “take a bite” twenty times at the dinner table. Skip the battle and either incorporate a side dish your kid loves or throw together a peanut butter and jelly they will gobble up without complaint.
- Bring out new toys – gifting your child with a small new toy will keep them occupied so you can converse with little interruption. Just be sure it isn’t a toy that demands parent participation. Swords, intricate Lego sets and games are not going to give you much reprieve. Try action figures, cars/planes/trains, blocks or toys that encourage imaginative play.
- Schedule your evening appropriately – if your kids usually eat at 6 pm invite your guests over at 5 or 5:30 pm. This will give everyone time to chat and play before the meal is served. Also, plan your evening so that there is a break where you can put the kids down without your guests feeling like it is the end of the evening.
- Invite over MORE people! – this may seem daunting but inviting over two couples instead of one allows them to chat (and possibly clean up) while you put the kids down.
- Choose your guests wisely – a friend that is going to be disgusted by your baby smeared in pasta sauce and throwing food on the ground is not someone you want to invite over during meal time. Choose friends that will be helpful in entertaining the kids while you tend to final preparations for dinner. Most of all you want to invite guest that will be understanding if your child is having a rough night.
What tips do you have for entertaining with young kids?