How kids can pitch in with party planning
Everyone loves a good party, especially kids! Allowing your children to pitch in with ideas and preparations makes the party more fun for them and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Adding in some of their ideas and having kids' cooperation makes party-prep a family affair and the event will be more creative and suitable for entertaining guests of all ages!
Choose a theme
Sit down with your children to discuss a party theme and listen to their ideas. While you probably won't embrace a Harry Potter or My Little Pony theme, part of the excitement is talking about ideas and guiding them toward a theme that will be workable and festive. Is the party for a neighborhood gathering, a small group of close friends or just extended family? Explain who will be attending and let the kids throw out ideas on favorite menu items and games or activities that might be included. If other kids are coming to the party, your own kids will have ideas on recreation. Maybe you'll all decide to set up a croquet course or hang a net for volleyball. The children can work off excess energy with a game before or after the meal while the adults enjoy cocktails or coffee.
Kids will also have an opinion on what to serve. A barbecue or patio party lends itself to some kid-favorites like burgers and hot dogs, even if the entree for adults is more adventurous. Ask their opinion on hors d'oeuvres and beverages for the younger set attending. It's easy to have some bite-sized favorites children can snack on. The way you ask these questions helps direct them to good choices: "What kind of dip should we have for fresh fruit and veggies?" and "Should we serve pita chips or wheat crackers?" Some menu items can do double-duty appropriately for kids and adults.
Maybe it's a party celebrating an event -- like a birthday, anniversary, graduation or a holiday-inspired party for the 4th of July. Let the children help with decor. You can find inexpensive themed tableware at the dollar store or online, and it's exciting for kids to help select and place these items. Red, white and blue bunting adorning a porch railing or bunches of balloons tied to the mailbox add a festive note that says, "Here's the party!" And children will be happy blowing up balloons and helping to ready the party space. Most kids will even pitch in to dust and do a pick-up around the house when you're getting everything spic-and-span pre-party.
Let kids pitch in as you prepare food and beverages: stirring the lemonade, arranging cookies and crackers on serving platters, helping to chop and mix when appropriate and setting out ice buckets, glassware, cutlery and napkins. Kids are usually capable and eager to assist and be part of the preparations -- and it can be a big help to the busy hostess who has a long chore list. When everyone pitches in, things come together faster and you'll all be more relaxed by party time.