Alright, here's the deal. Weddings aren't for kids. They've been known to throw tantrums at the worst times (bridal march, first dance, toasts) and surprisingly, they don't exactly love the taste of the ahi tuna tartar and filet mignon.
So what do you do? How can you make the experience pleasant for parents, children, and the lucky guests seated next to them?
The easy answer is to require guests to keep children at home with a babysitter. However, that is not always an option, especially for destination wedding guests with small children.
Here are some ideas for keeping kids entertained at weddings and saving their parent's sanity.
1. Work with your surroundings. Are you hosting a backyard or outdoor wedding? If so, designate a corner of the yard as a kid space. Place a bubble machine, colorful beach balls (in colors that match your wedding, of course), otter pops, cotton candy, popcorn or another fun treat, and other kid-friendly activities. You can do a similar concept at an indoor space if you have the room to spare. But remember, kids don't need a lot of space! At one indoor wedding, I partitioned off a small corner with black pipe and drape and designated it "Kid Zone." There were a couple couches and a coffee table that showcased fun toys, treats, and coloring books with crayons. Also included was a TV playing a Disney movie on loop. Parents LOVED having a place to take their child while still feeling like a guest at the wedding. **If you have room in the budget and a decent amount of children expected, you can hire a child care specialist (aka babysitter) to stay in the Kid Zone, so parents can drop their children off and enjoy the evening.
2. Kid Kits. As you can see below, kid kits are pretty self-explanatory and also inexpensive. A bucket (the ones pictured are from the Target $1 section), filled with treats, toys, bubbles, glasses, and lots of other exciting items. I find that even when parents come totally prepared with snacks or toys, children still have a difficult time. However, when a child is given their own special bucket that they can keep, it's like a present and therefore it's so much more special to them (sorry, parents!).
Kid Kits are ALWAYS a hit! The best time to give these out is during dinner, which is usually when they are the most restless. Here are some easy ideas for the contents of a Kid Kit:
- Disposable Camera
- Glasses (summer wedding)
- Bubbles (I always throw 2 in each kit)
- Whistle or Kazoo
- Princess Wand
- Hot Wheels car
- Glow stick bracelet and necklace
- Gold Fish
- Animal Crackers
- Fruit Snacks
- Candy Necklace
- Lollypop or Ringpop
- Juice Box
- Silly Straw for drinks
3. Talk to the venue/caterer about kid meals or a kid friendly side for a buffet. Every caterer I've ever worked with will accommodate food for children if told in advance. They can make full blown kid meals, or a simple side such as mac & cheese. BONUS - you can save a lot of money by having kid meals for children rather than counting them as part of the overall guest count. Kid meals are significantly cheaper than the wedding dinner.
4. Seat children together for dinner. Kids become best friends in a matter of seconds so seating them together can be fun for making friends at a wedding. I would recommend only putting children from ages 4-10 at the kid table. The kid table can include coloring books, disposable cameras, a craft to make, chalkboard/kraft paper as the tablecloth with chalk/crayons, and lots more! Be sure to talk to the caterer about kid meals if you're going to have a designated kid table.
5. Candy Buffet. These are loved by both children and adults. Win win. Similar ideas include a popcorn machine, cotton candy machine, or other specialty treats.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that it doesn't need to be expensive. Kids are easy to entertain, however they do need something more than being told to be quiet for 6 hours. A kid kit is a simple way of making a child feel special and therefore happy. It is the perfect solution for when you don't have the space or amount of kids to justify a kid zone.
Your guests will be eternally grateful and always remember the wedding that accommodated to all in attendance, even the littlest of guests.