I love the American institution of the playdate! It sounds so much more exciting than just sticking all your kids in the same space as an excuse for parents to get some much needed adult conversation but it really doesn’t take very much more effort than that to come with a top notch date that will bring a bit of cheer to everyone’s week.
And what better excuse for a get-together than the celebration of Anglo-American relations in the form of a viewing party for the upcoming Royal Wedding? Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle on Saturday the 19th May, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and it’s sure to provide a the kind of glamour and romance that we’d all like to take a little peek at. I prefer weekday play dates – plus I need to take account of the time difference – so will be setting the DVR ready for the following Monday. And the rest of the planning and preparation won’t get much more taxing than that…
1 – Pick a theme
OK, so that didn’t take long! Royal wedding viewing it is.
But really, whenever I have a play date for more than one guest I do like to have a focus. A bit of fun to frame the time around. In the last year we’ve done Lego, valentine’s chocolate play dough, puppies, trains, water play, and pumpkins… but the possibilities are endless. Once you’ve got a theme the ideas will just fall into place.
2 – Invites and Timing
There’s no royalty to coordinate here and there won’t be hand written, pearl inlaid cards sent out but I do want everyone to feel import. I tried to pick a broad, morning time slot that most of our friends are likely to be free for and make sure it’s clear that they can drop in for whatever time suits their and their child’s schedules. Coordinating kids can be complicated otherwise! I like to create Facebook events as invites, using my own photos for a bit of personalization. I love that you can clearly see who’s replied and any messages in one easy space. But Evite, email, text – they’re all good, quick and free!
3 – Activities
Generally for playdates I like to have one activity on theme. The children will most probably just want to dive into whatever toys they can get their mitts on but it’s fun to have a planned group craft or game to break the ice and get people chatting. This can be especially true with older children or when making new friends.
Princess play dough has been a big hit for us in the past and would fit right in here. We’ve also made crowns before having sourced pre cut cardboard crowns, glue on gems and stickers from the local craft store. I’m planning on making ribbon sticks with the children for them to wave instead of flags – red, white and blue handily covering both bride and groom! If it looks like the weather will be toasty I’m going to rack my brain for something on theme to go in the water table – always popular but make sure you warn parents to bring kids a change of clothes! I’ll let you know what I come up with…
4 – Set out some toys
Personally, I find kids play better if they aren’t totally overwhelmed with a massive free-for-all of every toy you own. I try to lay out a few choice toys that should interest the children that we’ve invited. Handily as my kids hardily ever put their toys away the floor will no doubt already be covered in the choicest items! For our Royal Wedding playdate I want to include our Happy Land Wedding playset from when Prince William and Kate Middleton married. This was purchased in the UK from ELC. I’m sure my three year old guests won’t mind that I’m not totally up to date! I’ll also put out a mix of gross and fine motor toys, puzzles and pretend play. A spot of on theme dress up would also be perfect is you have it. The guests are of course free to get out other things they want. It’s bound to be a whirl wind of play but putting away anything you don’t want damaged and giving some fun choices always works for us.
5 – Catering!
Trust me, this is barely catering but I do like to provide some snacks or lunch depending on timing so that people don’t have to rush off and because it’s nice to eat together. While I’m tempted to go all out, on-theme crustless cucumber sandwiches, trifle and Pimms it will more than likely result in unimpressed pre-schoolers and wasted time, effort and food. So here’s my playdate formula: kid-friendly food that can be saved and used later in the week if it’s not consumed plus a treat for the grown ups! Frequently this includes apple sauce pouches, cut fruit, mac and cheese and cake.
For this right royal knees up I will add in scones and jam because I love to bake and will hunt down some British childhood party favorites that I haven’t had in ages… Hhhmmm I wonder here I can get some Party Rings?
So here’s to Harry and Meghan! We hope you have a perfect wedding day, long marriage and thank you for giving us a morning of inspired fun!
Let me know what you’ve got planned…