Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How to Throw an Adult-Friendly Kids’ Party

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There are few events I dread more than kids’ birthday parties—especially if I don’t know the parents or caregivers. I used to think this made me a bad person, but I’ve now attended enough of these gatherings to see that it has less to do with me and more to do with the fact that there’s really nothing worse than just standing there with a bunch of other adults whose names I should probably know but don’t.

Luckily, if you’re throwing a party for kids, there are a few things you can do as a host to encourage casual conversation and a fun, relaxing time for your grown-up guests. And you can do it all without any uncomfortable formal icebreaker activities, whether you’re hosting at home, at the park, or at the pool.

Put a name tag table at the door

It’s hard enough to remember your kids’ classmates’ names, let alone keep track of which caregiver belongs with which kid—especially out of the context of school drop off or pick up. Save everyone some awkwardness by putting a name tag table at the door or entry to the party with a little sign that says: “Write your name and your kid’s name.” This way, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with something like, “Oh, you’re Paulo’s mom. I’m Charlie’s mom and I think our kids ate dirt together last week.” To encourage even more casual conversation among adults, add an additional prompt like, “Favorite party song,” or “least favorite age so far.”

Sharpie Permanent Markers, 5 Count

Pandaman Acrylic Sign Holder, 2-Pack

Instead of handing your guests a drink upon arrival or pointing them in the direction of the fridge or cooler, create an opportunity for conversation with a DIY cocktail station. To keep things simple, serve a batched low-ABV or zero-proof cocktail from a drink dispenser and set out everything guests need to assemble their own drinks (including cups that don’t have Paw Patrol characters on them) and maybe even a few things they don’t need, like little umbrellas or fresh fruit on a fun cocktail pick.

KooK Glass Carafe, Set of 3

Beverage Dispenser with Spigot

Gold Plastic Stemless Wine Glasses, 20-Count

Cocktail Drink Umbrella Picks

Okuna Outpost Gold Pearl Bamboo Toothpicks

And if you’d rather go the cooler route and you’re serving beer and wine, know that not everyone wants to drink the champagne of beers. You’ll be remembered as the best host in town if you offer a good selection of low-and-non-alcoholic options—and maybe even some canned bubbly. If you have access to an electrical outlet, a portable countertop ice maker will be your new favorite party trick. And don’t forget to have lots of water available!

Topo Chico Ranch Water Hard Seltzer

Newair Portable Countertop Ice Maker

Better Homes & Gardens Galvanized Tub

Yeti Roadie 32 Hard Cooler

Encourage guests to get creative with condiments

Here’s the thing about a party for kids: nobody expects you to serve fancy food for adults in addition to whatever you’re putting out for the picky eaters. Still, you can put out a creative spread of toppings and condiments for whatever basic hot dogs or tacos the littles might eat two bites of before they run off to play or start begging for cake. This way adults can pile the pickled onions and chili crisp onto their own plates without worrying about picking anything off of their kids’ food. Like the DIY cocktail station, this just might encourage some conversation among your guests.

Red Striped Paper Hot Dog Trays, 8 Count

Innovative Life Condiment Server with Ice Tray

A party without music is fine when you’re six, but it’s unacceptable once you’re old enough to drive. So you definitely want to have some energetic music playing in the background if you want the adults to feel at ease. If you’re not picky about the playlist, you can even invite other parents to add songs to your queue. If you’re hosting away from home, remember that your phone won’t cut it here—this is a job for a durable, portable bluetooth speaker.

JBL Xtreme 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Bluetooth Speakers

Create a comfy seating area

Okay, this one might seem a little tricky if you’re hosting at a park or pool, but no matter where your party takes place, it is possible to create a comfy seating zone for adults. At the pool, make sure you get there early enough to reserve enough chairs or loungers (or even request some ahead of time), as well as a few small tables so people can set down their food and drinks. If you’re using a shelter at a park or playground, pack a few cushions or bleacher pads. And if you’re hosting in your own backyard, make sure there’s a place for everyone to gather out of the sun.

FOCHIER F Stadium Seat Pad

Mainstays Textured Chair Cushion

Eagle Peak 10×10 Slant Leg Pop-up Canopy Tent

Why should kids have all the fun favors? If your budget allows, put together goodie bags for the grown ups and fill them with savory snacks, sweet treats, SPF lip balm, and wet wipes to clean their sticky kids before they get in the car. Hand them out at the beginning of the party to encourage conversation, or send them home at the end.

Amylove Mini Tote Bag, 24-Count

SPF 30 Lip Balm with Sunscreen 32-Pack

Honey Mama’s Chocolate Cake Minis, 8-Count

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes, 24-Count

Miniature Tabasco Hot Sauce Bottles, 30-Count

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