Play dates are a great way for young kids to make friends and learn invaluable social and mental skills. When ordinary play dates begin to seem like a routine, a party theme can spice things up! With a few creative ideas, you can turn a simple play date party into a memorable event for everyone’s kids. Here are a few ideas:
Choose a Theme
Whether you’re expecting a group of lively boys or giggly girls, try centering your theme on your child’s interests or favorite hobby.
Themes for a boys’ play date can include superheroes, dinosaurs, pirates, cars, or popular animated movies like Toy Story. If your future MVP loves football, a sports-themed party will score big with your little visitors.
Being outnumbered by boys, three to one, my daughter loves anything that isn’t superheroes- or knight-related! So for a girl-themed party, it would be safe to have a princess, fairy, tea party, or even a My Little Pony theme.
For a boy and girl play date, you may consider a circus, farm, camping, or movie theatre theme.
Do Some Prep Work
If I’ve learned anything with four kids, it’s to plan ahead. Play dates parties will run more smoothly if you prepare a few things beforehand.
Start with designing invitations according to your theme. If you go with a themed party, encourage other parents to have their children wear something that fits the motif, if possible. Of course, including the date, and start and end time is helpful as well. As most of us parents know, kids and adults can only take so much of a good time. Some of the most embarrassing public meltdowns have occurred when my kids were having a great time and we stayed a bit too long at a friend’s party.
Don’t stress yourself out. I always remind myself that this gathering is supposed to be a fun way to get friends and kids together, and that I’m not trying to be “Pinterest Mom of the Year!” There’s no need to go all out with fancy decorations, such as streamers or balloons. Instead, focus your budget on snacks and materials for special activities.
To keep your play date party manageable, limit it to around three or four little guests. Be sure to pack away your child’s prized toys, and bring out fun items that he or she is willing to share.
Select a variety of fun and healthy snacks that are light and easy to eat.
Serve up a few items that go with your theme. For a camping-themed play date, offer delicious Ants on a Log, a classic favorite made of celery, peanut butter, and raisins. If some of the kids have peanut allergies, go with cream cheese instead! For a movie theater theme, make some tasty popcorn. Popcorn is great because you can simply serve it with salt or you can add fun flavorings. There are so many options!
Be Fun but Flexible
There are a host of games and activities that will cater to every theme. You can arrange a scavenger hunt for a pirate-inspired play date or a craft-a-magic wand activity for a fairy party.
If time or supplies are limited, stick to the spirit of your theme with traditional play date pastimes. Have your little superheroes or princesses draw their favorite character on pieces of paper, or gather your little farmhands for a story time reading of Margaret Wise Brown’s Big Red Barn.
Remember that many kids are perfectly happy playing with a ball or Lego bricks, so keep a list of game ideas on hand but don’t feel pressured to do them all.
I hope you have fun planning your play date party. If you have more playtime tips and ideas, I’d love to hear about them.