This post originally appeared July, 2010. We’re sharing again as there are great ideas for fun all summer long.
Over at Michigan Professional Nanny Association’s NannyTips blog, Tara Lindsay posted an awesome Recipe For A Playdate Party! They have given us permission to reprint it here at Regarding Nannies! They are actually holding their 3rd Annual Red, White & Blue Playdate Party today! Have fun everyone! Thank you for sharing this with our readers MPNA!
Recipe For A Playdate Party!
Are your charges counting down the days until summer break begins? Or perhaps they are too little for school and you are gearing up for lots of sun soaked summer fun!
For the past few summers, our group has had a tradition of summer “playdate parties” that have been a roaring success…so much so that we’ve carried them into the rest of our year. This summer, we have three such playdate parties planned for our paid members. (as per MPNA policy, events held at private homes are open only to paid MPNA members and specific guests of the hostess).
Past playdate parties have included our annual “Red, White, and Blue Playdate”, “Kid-lympics 2008” (which coincided with the 2008 Summer Olympics), a Mardi Gras themed party, a rather spontaneous St. Patrick’s Day event, Winter Sports Extravaganza, and last year’s highly successful “Pirate Party Playdate”. This summer we’ll enjoy our patriotic party once again and add in “Flag Day Playdate Party” in June and “End of Summer Luau Playdate” in August. Our playdate parties traditionally run from 10am until 1pm with each guest bringing their own picnic lunch.
We’ve received several email requests from nanny support group leaders in other communities about these events, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to share our simple recipe here:
Pick a theme. Along that theme, set up a few simple snacks, choose a simple craft activity, one (or more) large group structured game/activity, and invite your guests. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Some tips to help things go smoothly:
Don’t make your theme too specific or involved unless you really really love lots of details and stress. Simple themes are easiest for everyone anyway. If you aren’t sure what kind of theme to do, go browse your local dollar store or discount party supply store for inspiration. I kid you not, the massive fun of our Pirate Playdate Party was largely due to the fact that a party supply store had all their pirate themed stuff on sale for 50 cents, including a huge pin-the-flag-on-the-pirate-ship game that normally priced out at around $20. Ten minutes and twenty bucks after lucking into that little clearance bonanza I had a cart full of pirate gear to fill our scavenger hunt treasure chest AND costume all our guests. We encourage guests to dress with the theme, but always have a few little things for those who forget or weren’t comfortable (such as beads for Mardi Gras and eyepatches for pirates). Holidays and “National Day of This or That” days also make great party theme ideas.
Snacks can be simple and healthy. In the summer, fresh fruit is often the easiest way to go. For our Red, White, and Blue party all the snacks fit the color theme: a fruit salad of bananas, blueberries, and strawberries or raspberries, blue and white corn chips with salsa, a huge bucket of watermelon chunks. For the Pirate Party, it was simple foods creatively labeled. Veggie sticks became “finger bones of those who walked the plank”, banana slices were “pieces of eight”, and raspberries became “eyes of our dead foes”. Keep in mind severe food allergies of your guests (and don’t be afraid to ask ahead of time if they have any!).
Finding a craft that fits all ages can sometimes be a trick. We’ve found that simple gluing crafts allow younger children the ability to be creative (with supervision, of course) as well as allow older kids free imaginative reign. At our Mardi Gras party, a table with glue sticks, paper masks, and bowls of feathers, buttons, and large sequins kept our toddlers and preschoolers busy and happy for quite some time. St. Patrick’s Day found us using cut peppers for shamrock shaped painting stamps. For our Flag Day party guests will be encouraged to make and design their own paper flags. We’ve also found it easiest to set up the craft table for a specific time frame and let the kids approach it when they are interested. Often an older child will start crafting and the younger ones, who don’t want to be left out, quickly follow.
A large group activity is nice, if you can come up with one to keep things organized, but not always necessary. Eating picnic lunch outside and keeping everyone busy with bubbles and beach balls has often been enough for us (and don’t forget sprinklers for hot summer day parties!). Search online for simple help and ideas. Websites like perpetual preschool, dltk kids, and family fun are full of ideas and printables. Our little pirates had a blast searching for buried treasure as a team. Clues hidden around the house led them to their pirate’s booty, with older children reading the clues and the host children leading the way through the house. That particular event needed last minute changes…our original map took us outdoors but had to be reworked because of rain.
Sometimes, combining activities is the way to go…such as an “assemble your snack” activity.
And be flexible, it saves everyone a lot of stress. Guests will be late. Others will just not show. And sometimes the kids will change things up. At our Kid-lympics playdate the original plan was for the kids to each make their own paper torches with construction paper rolled into cones and stuffed with red, orange, and yellow tissue paper “flames”. Several of the older children in attendance decided to make all the torches themselves and then hide them as a scavenger hunt for the younger children. It wasn’t in the plan, but it was a huge hit with everyone! The true goal of the playdate party is for everyone to enjoy being with everyone else even if not everything in the plan gets done.