Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party With Kids at Home
You can have a dinner party...
& keep your kids happily occupied, too
Oh children, how we love them… but they’re not always the best dinner party guests. Between keeping little hands away from the oven and miniature fingers out of the appetizer dips, your dinner parties are sometimes just better off with the kids doing their own thing. But we all know that’s not realistic. Here’s how to host a dinner party with kids at home—and how they can enjoy it too.
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Young Kids ages 0-3
For infants and very young children up to age 3, designate someone to put the child(ren) to bed shortly after guests arrive or begin the dinner party once they’re asleep for the night. If possible, hire a sitter to assist with bedtime routines. We also find that putting on a noise machine in their bedrooms before guests arrive helps them avoid feeling like they’re missing out. No more FOMO here for the little ones!
Older Kids (or kids that don’t go to sleep early enough)
They may not get the invite to the adult dinner party, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have one of their own. Plan a *very low-lift* similarly themed evening for them, and you’re set.
1. Craft Time
Set up a themed craft for them to make. If you’re hosting Campfire, provide all the fixings for their very own fire pit creations. Three easy crafting needs: paper towel rolls, colorful tissue paper (red, yellow, and orange), gluing materials, and marshmallows. Okay four, if we’re counting the mallows. Those may or may not make it into the craft.
2. Movie Night
Select a theme-appropriate movie. For example, if you’re planning an Italian-inspired Alfresco Dinner Party, select an Italian (child appropriate) movie, order a pizza, and batch a few extra mocktails for them to enjoy. Make blankets and pillows easily accessible to make falling asleep that much more realistic.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Create a themed scavenger hunt, if age appropriate. Imagine you're hosting our Farm to Table dinner: Who says Easter eggs need to be only seasonal? Leave plastic eggs (or stuffed farm animals) with Old MacDonald-centric clues inside. For younger children, this could be closer to “I Spy” with eggs placed in hiding spots.
4. Host’s Little Helpers
If you know it will be hard for them to stay in their own space, prepare for them to help. Little hands are great for clearing plates, helping with last minute touches on desserts, or adding a “performative element” to the night.
5. Turn Up the Music
Our playlists would work perfectly for a mid-evening all-ages dance party. Just be sure to wind it down with a more soothing, lullaby-esque tune to queue their bedtime routine.
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More ideas for what to do with kids at a dinner party
- If the kids aren’t yet in a phase in which they can entertain themselves, hire a sitter or recruit a family member to help.
- If age appropriate, invite other guests’ children over for the evening. Definitely designate a kids’ area and prep the entertainment for them. Ideas above! Be sure to ask about any allergies.
Pro Tip: Consult our How to Host a Party With Allergies to be fully prepared
- Ensure the little ones are fed early in the evening. This will take one more thing off the to-do list in the evening’s timeline… and hopefully set them up for a peaceful night. Keep some snacks on hand for any “emergencies.”
- When in doubt, having a few special treats on hand never hurts.
- Plan ahead. More kids = more cleaning. If you have a housekeeper, schedule him or her for the next day. If not, plan to use single-use elements for the children's dining for less cleanup.
We know hosting dinner parties are a treat, and that they require a bit of planning ahead. Especially when you factor in a few little ones to the mix. Try our tips for hosting even with kids in attendance. We know you can handle it. For a few dinner party ideas, check out these by Partytrick:
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