If we're being honest, many of us pre-screen for playdates. We're looking not only for kids that will be a good influence on our children, but parents who are interesting. After all, if the kids hit it off, you will be seeing a lot more of one another.
And since everyone is overly-polite in the beginning, here are a few tips to get you off to a good start:
A good host knows that offering refreshments is polite, if not expected. Not to mention that if some children get too hungry, their heads have been known to spin 360 degrees.
New friends never want to appear too demanding, or assume you will be serving food. In which case, they're too polite to mention any gluten or peanut allergies. So, have a spread on your table that offers a nice selection of snacks, so they have options.
Clean and Simple
To avoid potential messes that your new friends may agonize over, keep the food mess-free. Save the spaghetti marinara, and opt for finger foods they can grab and go. Besides, playing with friends is their priority, and plates and silverware are too fussy.
Health is Wealth
More than ever, parents are conscious of what they're feeding their children, so avoid a dozen doughnuts and a 2-liter of soda. You don't have a break the bank to provide fun, healthy options. Besides, serving quality food will make everyone feel they deserve any sugary treats you may serve.
Before I share a few recipe ideas, here are a couple of non-food-related tips:
Ready to Go
Have some things in mind for the kids before the playdate begins, so if they get off to an awkward start, you can trot out a slime kit or kinetic sand. You may even want to save a brand new toy for the occasion, so even your child's eyes will light up. Avoid anything that may make too much a mess, such as paint or permanent markers. Some children have a wilder temperament, and if you don't know about it, you'll be repainting your walls. If it's hot out, have a kiddie pool and an extra pair of swim trunks ready to go.
Space to Play
You want to give the kids space to play without adult intervention, but you want them close enough so that you can hear what they're up to. Keep the food and drinks (where the adults will be hunkered down) within ear shot of the children. After all, we all know it's worth popping our heads in if it gets too quiet.
Regardless of all the branding we see with wine being called "Mom Juice" (been there, saw the painted wine glass), don't assume that the other parents will want to imbibe. Then again, don't assume they won't! Rather than liquor, offer something lighter for the day, like a chilled white wine. If all goes well, everyone can get out of their heads a bit and bond by swapping stories about their children. Have a nice playlist in the background and sit in some natural sunlight, and your playdate becomes officially cool!
The More the Merrier
Why invite one parent, when you can invite a few? Make it an intimate little group and connect new friends. Lord knows none of us have enough time to host multiple playdates, so consolidation puts more time back into your life. And who knows? Maybe you'll be invited to a great playdate by a guest who followed your lead!
Remember, playdates are never just about the kids. You can make it fun for all!