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Family Matters

Kid-Friendly Holiday Party Tips

November 1st, 2014

By Patricia Bullock

I love the holidays! Melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies, school Christmas concerts and those faint reindeer hoof steps on the roof. But for me the best thing about the season is getting together with family and friends. As my children have gone from babies to tweens I have been to and thrown some great parties, and have attended and hosted some which could serve as cautionary tales.

So as we get ready to gather friends and family young and old together I have put together a few tips for creating an environment that will have all your guests feeling comfortable – specifically the little ones.

Plan for Success

Being well prepared makes things more fun for you and your guests. Thoughtfully consider who you have invited, their dietary restrictions, who they will know at the party, as well as, what exactly makes them feel at ease. Prior to the party take a walk through the house with the youngest and the most boisterous guests in mind to decide whether there are any items that might want to be placed out of harm’s way. Have an idea of the schedule for the evening and feel free to share it with your guests so they also know what to expect.

Age Appropriate Activities

Consider the ages and interests of your guests. For younger children, a play area with a few age appropriate toys close to where the adults are visiting allows them to play and socialize on their own, while keeping their eyes on mom and dad (and vice versa). For older children, having games or crafts available that suit their interests can help keep them engaged and can help break the ice if they don’t know the other children well.


Consider serving dinner early to accommodate younger diners or, if you prefer to eat a little later, have a nice array of healthy snacks on hand. Appetizers that are easy to recognize like deli meats, raw veggies and cheeses are popular with everyone and can serve as a mini meal for hungry kids. For drinks, consider serving juice and milk or, as a special treat, a white cranberry spritzer mocktail (stay away from colours that may stain). When dinner is served, you don't have to go over the top with kid-friendly food, but consider serving adding a couple of simpler dishes like plain chicken with a sauce on the side or pasta tossed in butter.

Wind-Down Time

Once dinner is over and the kids are starting to get tired, put on a popular family movie to help extend the evening. Make it even more fun by inviting your guests to bring pajamas for the kids and make it a pajama party! Provide some extra blankets, put out the popcorn, and let the little ones enjoy some quiet time with their friends before bundling them into a warm car and home to bed.

Patricia is the co-founder and president of, an online event supply store located in Edmonton. For Patricia, everyday is a celebration, which is why she lives and breathes her love of good food, gathering with friends and family, and living a creative life. When she isn't helping a client find that unique piece for his or her event, Patricia is also busy raising her two children alongside her husband James.

Tags: eating, planning

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