5 Tips for Hosting a Fun and Successful Play Date

"Mom, can Jack come over to play?"

If you are the mom of a little human over the age of 3 or so, you have probably heard this type of question dozens of times. Most kiddos like playing with their friends outside of preschool or elementary school, and so it’s pretty common to have young kids over to your home and vice versa.

However, as much as you’d like to give your pint-sized guest and your child some markers and paper, a pile of LEGOs and maybe some Play-Doh and let them go at it, a successful play date often takes a bit more planning. In order to be sure everyone is happily occupied, check out the following tips:

Choose a Good Location

While some moms like to have play dates in their home, if the other parents are cool with it, you can also take the kids to a local park, a fast-food restaurant with an indoor play place, or the library for story time. As Kids Stuff World notes, while any of these venues is ideal for a play date, you want to focus on what is easiest for you and most enjoyable for the kids.

Come Up With Things to Do Ahead of Time

Ideally, the kids will decide what to do during their play date. To be sure they have plenty of options to choose from, set out some toys and activities that both kids will like. Try to come up with a mix of things, including toys that get them up and moving and quieter projects like stickers and paper. For example, if the kids enjoy doing word puzzles, you can make your own custom word puzzle for free at BusyTeacher.org. Personalize it with fun words that kids love to search for, including their own name, names of pets, favorite toys, candy and TV characters.

play dateRemember, Three’s a Crowd

The old adage "two’s company, three’s a crowd" has never been truer than during a play date. Ask one guest over at a time, and if there’s a younger brother or sister in the mix, keep him or her occupied away from the big kids with a special movie or TV show.

Have Snacks Ready

Double check with the other parents on any allergy issues their child might have, and with this information, plan some kid-friendly snacks. Remember active kids can become tired, "hangry" little beasties very quickly, so plan on easy-to-serve goodies like Goldfish crackers, cheese cubes, banana and apple slices, cereal bars or small muffins with milk or juice. You don’t need them to chow down the entire time, but about halfway through announce that it’s snack time and encourage them to have a little something.

Invite the Other Parent Inside

Some kiddos walk right into a play date like they have lived in your home their entire lives, while others might be a bit bashful and want mom or dad to stay for some or all of it. When your guests arrive, invite the parent in as well, and show him or her the playroom or living room where the kids will be hanging out. The other parent will appreciate the warm invitation, and who knows, you might end up having a play date of your own, with plenty of coffee and conversation.