A “playdate”, according to Merriam-Webster.com, is “a play session for small children arranged in advance by their parents.” Sounds so simple, right? It doesn’t feel that way when the whole event is resting on your shoulders. Many moms have been in your shoes. In fact, I recently took to social media and asked the pros for their favorite hacks that help them host a successful playdate. Let’s take a look at what these moms had to say.
To my delight, the advice these moms offered wasn’t what you might expect. A great playdate didn’t mean fancy china on wicker placemats or spotless shelves. It didn’t mean staying up until 2:00 AM whittling toy flutes out of bamboo as party favors.
Step away from the bamboo. Grab some coffee. Let’s see what really goes into planning for a fun playdate.
Inviting guests is free and easy on Facebook or via text. If your heart’s desire is to create calligraphed invitations lined with white lace attached to a potted flower, then follow that dream.
But if you’re already willing to host your friends and their messy kids in your home, they’re already grateful. Most of us stay-at-home moms are just happy to give our kids some new playmates and to speak to people over three feet tall for a few minutes. We don’t need much more than that.
Except coffee. That’s coming.
Step 2: Clean up, but not too much.
If you’ve ever walked into a friend’s house and slumped your shoulders, wondering if she’d hired Joanna Gaines, personally, to decorate it, you’re not alone. Perhaps you grew up with a mother who required her home to be as sterile as a hospital, and anything less meant you were less of a person.
Hear this: Your friends don’t need you to make sure it’s trendy or spotless enough for them. More than one of the moms I interviewed said their number one tip for a successful playdate was to leave the house less than perfect.
“It seems like friends feel more at ease if my house isn’t neat as a pin,” one mom wrote. “Then they aren’t as worried about their kids messing things up.”
Plan for time to straighten up, but don’t fret if your house looks a little “lived in” when your guests arrive. That just means you’ve invited them to live life with you.
Step 3: Tell your guests to dress comfy.
Favorite advice: Be comfortable! If you tell your guests to dress casually, and tell them you’ll do the same, you’re already creating a more relaxed atmosphere for these hard working gals.
Baking is always a win. Don’t feel like you have to grow and harvest your own wheat in the backyard in order to call something “homemade.” I’m the queen of bringing a bowl of freshly rinsed grapes to the party.
If you’re hosting a playdate in the morning, try finger foods like a fruit tray or banana mini muffins.
Hosting a lunch playdate? Go with something easy to cook in bulk like macaroni and cheese or sliced watermelon with small sandwiches.
Make sure you find out if any of your guests have food allergies and prepare accordingly.
Step 5: Gather some game ideas.
Looking for activities for your playdate? Ask your friends what their kids like to do! If they’re anything like my kids, you’ll hear, “They run around a lot. And throw stuff. And chase each other. Yeah, that’s about it.”
If you’ve got some backyard space and it’s a nice day, let the kids romp. Set up some chairs for your mom friends as they socialize (and watch over their tiny, unleashed cheetahs). Purchase some Frisbees or some fresh sidewalk chalk. It’s usually very inexpensive at Target or Dollar General. When in doubt, pack some snacks and meet at a park.
If the party stays inside, try designating a primary “play room” with toys, puzzles, and games the children can use. Card tables make great craft stations if you have Play-Doh, coloring books, etc.
Step 6: Brew the coffee.
No one is expecting unicorn frappuccinos, but having something warm (and caffeinated) to sip is always welcome. If it’s summertime, set up a bucket of ice with options like water, tea, or coffee for your guests. In cooler weather, one mom told me about her simple, yet delightful setup:
“We always buy extra K cups for our Keurig when we have guests over. I have a little coffee bar set up with cups, tea, hot chocolate, coffee, and chai. I’m always amazed how much people love it!”
As you prep for this special time with your guests, relax and have fun. Your kids already come preinstalled with that function. Moms who are home all day with little ones don’t often have opportunities to be together, to lean on one another, or to simply laugh about the show they’ve both been watching on Netflix.
Have a nice time (and hide the breakables!).
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