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Parties: What to do With the Littles

This post is sponsored by UP ALL NIGHT…Life is all about balance. So what happens when you throw a new baby into it? Find out, series premiere Wednesday September 14 on NBC.

I love a party with little kids, but sometimes I just want a party without little people. As a mother of two (adorable and perfect) children and also as someone who likes to throw parties I grapple with how to make parties work with and without kids. It is really nice to have adult conversations where I’m not having to make sure my (adorable and perfect) children aren’t smearing Goldish crackers on the hostess’s sofa. Here are my some guidelines and tips for throwing a party without the littles.

1. Don’t say “no kids” on the invitation. You can either mention to the person verbally that this is an adults only event. If you want to put something on the invitation  say something a little more PC like: “leave the little ones tucked in at home.”

2. Remember babysitters are difficult to find and expensive. We live in big cities where hiring a sitter can be very difficult and one night out can set you back $75(!) Make sure you are making the party worth their time. Make it special! (This is permission for you to go over the top!)

3. If its the right group and time of day consider hiring a sitter to play with the kids in a different part of the house. This is very generous and considerate. I’ve even borrowed portable cribs before so my guests could put their baby down in the other room so they could then stay and enjoy the party.

4. Babes in Arms are different than a two year old. Always allow mothers with babies the option of bringing them. Young babies are so portable they usually just sleep in their carseat in the corner anyway. It won’t cramp the style of the party (unless of course its a rave, in that case its probably better they don’t bring the baby.)

5. Parents: You host the party. We have lots of friends without children. Since I’ve had my own kids my favorite low-key party is when we have our kid-free guests show up at 8pm for a late dinner. Our kids are already in bed and we can have an adult dinner party without children.

6. Start a Babysitting Co-op. We did this when we lived in San Francisco. Basically it worked like this: there were four couples. Every Saturday night for three hours we dropped off our kids at 4:30 pm, fed, with diapers changed, and armed with fruit snacks. One couple would wrangle the kids (with movies and a ton of toys) while the others took off to play. You’d babysit one Saturday then have three Saturdays free! Three hours is just enough time to see a movie or get dinner and explore the city a little. We found having a set date night was so great for us and it felt so much more carefree because it was “free.”

I’d love to hear how you handle having parties without kids.

photo by Aubrey Trinnaman for Oh Happy Day

This post is sponsored by UP ALL NIGHT but the content was chosen and written by me. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that help me run Oh Happy Day! -mwah! Jordan

  1. Giulia

    August 11, 2011

    We have a lot of parties that included kids – the parents love it because they don’t need a sitter and inevitably my hubby ends up being the party clown allowing parents to mingle and drink bubbly. However, I’d like a party where my hubby can socialize as well, so we decided that our next fall or early winter party will have a babysitter in a different part of the house. That way the adults (including my hubby) can enjoy the party while all the kids are entertained by the sitter.

  2. The New Diplomats Wife

    August 11, 2011

    Lots of great ideas here and lots we have in practice – we’ve done a lot of later dinner parties to accomodate sleeping schedules, and for awake kiddies, sunday brunch becomes a staple too – no reason why you can’t party during the day. Love the co-op idea.

  3. marissa (stylebook)

    August 11, 2011

    #6 is brilliant.

  4. Janssen

    August 11, 2011

    Great suggestions. When we didn’t have kids, we’d offer to come to other people’s houses, so they could put their kids down and then we’d play. It worked like a charm!

  5. Emily

    August 11, 2011

    I love #6! Adding it to the list for when I have kids!

  6. Alicia

    August 11, 2011

    Great ideas, but now I need the companion piece to this – successful party planning WITH the kiddos.

    I’m wedding planning and want to make sure it’s a kid-friendly event. The only person in the ceremony with us is my fiance’s 10 year old son, and he’ll be there throughout. The vast majority of our guests will have kids ages ranging from toddler to tween.

    I’ve unofficially put the “host kid” in charge of helping me figure out what to do with the gang, but could use creative and successful ideas. Working with the venue to see if a removed space (and then, a babysitter) is feasible, otherwise, I’m considering a comfy kid’s corner in the reception hall with bean bag chairs, crayons (perhaps a coloring contest?) and stuff like that. It will be a brunch, so the relaxed atmosphere will probably be fine… just brainstorming at this point!

    thanks for another great post!

  7. Dryden

    August 11, 2011

    Alicia, when my brother got married I made goodie bags for the kids in attendance. They included coloring pages, plushie swords and fairy wands, crayons, stickers, etc. There was also a recessed area off the main hall with no furniture or decorations that we let them play in, but truthfully once the music started the kids never left the dance floor.

    And as a childless lady, I never have any problem hanging out later or having my friends kids around. Maybe it’s because I come from a large family, but having little kids around has always just been so normal. I’ll be sending this post to friends for sure.

  8. Kate

    August 11, 2011

    For our big football party in November {Iron Bowl!}, which is the day after Thanksgiving, I’m getting a bounce house and hiring a couple of college students to hang out with the kids. That way we can watch football and nobody has to scour the city for the 10 available sitters.

    For most of my other parties, I just make sure I send out the invitation in plenty of time for people to make sitter plans. No last minute parties that way, but I receive less regrets that way!

  9. rebekka

    August 11, 2011

    I love all of your posts and tips about how to live, work, and play with children. We have a little one on the way, so I’m seriously filing all of these suggestions away! I work at home, as an illustrator, so it’s especially helpful to hear how you and your husband juggle creative jobs and family life!

  10. Trish

    August 11, 2011

    These are really great ideas – my personal favorite is hiring a sitter to occupy the children while at your party … then guests can actually enjoy instead of chasing their kids around the house – believe me, I’ve been there! It’s a real luxury but also just a really nice gift for your guests.

  11. Madame Bonbon

    August 11, 2011

    Hi Jordan, great article and one I think that parents (especially new parents) sometimes grapple with. I agree with all of your suggestions and think that it’s important for parents to “party” with their friends (sans children) every so often. At a recent party, where children were included, I created individual party boxes with snacks, a drink, puzzles and activity pads. Each of the children brought their sleeping bags along and when they were tired they were able to lie down comfortably. MB

  12. Corrie Anne

    August 11, 2011

    I love the babysitting co-op idea! GENIUS! 🙂

  13. Michelle A

    August 11, 2011

    I love a late party time, like 8pm. Then it makes babysitting easy because my kids are asleep and I can always find a friend to usually sit on my couch and relax for the evening with a pint of ice cream. I also appreciate advance notice, at least a week, to try and find a sitter.

    p.s. love the word grapple. I should use it more often.

  14. AmberLee

    August 11, 2011

    loved this and needed it! i am resolving right this minute to host more after bedtime dinner parties.

  15. Kristina Gulino

    August 11, 2011

    We don’t have kids just yet, but this is a nice mental-prep!

  16. Denise Laborde

    August 11, 2011

    Excellent post Jordan. As a parent to three kids and people who like all sorts of get togethers, this topic is interesting to me.

    Twice a year we host a full-on dance party. We never say “no kids” but we let everyone know that our children will not be there. As a hostess, I never mind if our friends have to bring their kids and put them to sleep in one of the bedrooms. I just cannot be looking after my own kids and hosting at the same time.

    For dinner parties, if someone cannot find a sitter, we just welcome kids already fed, bathed and in their pajamas. They play a while and before we sit down to eat they are in bed. When it’s time to go home, parents just pack sleeping kids into the car. Et voila!

    Twice for New Year’s a group of 6 couples we pooled our money hired sitters to watch our kids in the same place where we were ringing in the new year. The sitters kept the kids upstairs and the downstairs was reserved for adults. That worked out well and was less expensive than each of us hiring sitters.

    We ve done the sitter co-op too – even with overnights! Those are awesome because they are free, kids love it and it feels good to help friends!


  17. Nona

    August 14, 2011

    I babysit a lot, and I’ve been hired by parents hosting a party to look after all the kids while the parents have kid-free time upstairs. It usually works out quite well for everyone– parents get grown-up time, kids get a big group to play in, sitter gets hazard pay. I would suggest getting two sitters if there’s more than 6-8 kids, though, or if there’s a lot of very young children.

  18. Brigette

    August 15, 2011

    such cute photos!

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