Hello Everyone! It’s so nice to have been invited to be a guest mom on one of my favorite blogs — thanks Gabrielle!

This week I thought I would do a series of posts about “entertaining with kids.” The impetus is that my husband and I love to host parties, but because we have three young children we needed to figure out a way to entertain that was kid friendly. Formal late-night cocktail parties were no longer very practical.

Luckily, we have found that while we still enjoy the occasional larger scale soiree, one of our favorite things to do is to invite a handful of friends and their children over for dinner. Sometimes we keep it really simple (take out and a movie) and sometimes we go a little fancy (kid-appropriate gourmet & games). Either way, we’ve found it to be the perfect way to catch up with our friends and the kids always seem to delight in these evening ‘playdates.’

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of our tips for hosting a family style gathering that is fun and entertaining for the children which in turn makes it enjoyable and relaxing for the adults. Well, as relaxing as a house filled with up to a dozen kids can be!

Just a few immediate thoughts to start off the week:

-We have found that having 2 families (or anywhere from 10-14 people total) is a really good number. It’s not too overwhelming but it still feels festive.
-Saturday evenings are perfect — more preparation time for us and the kids are a bit more rested. 5:30-9ish is the norm.
-Setting up a port-a-crib in a quiet place is always nice for friends with the under 2 set. I also encourage the kids to bring their PJs so everyone can just tuck in when they get home.

-Even on the ‘fancier’ evenings I usually take at least one shortcut — whether its buying a simple dessert (like ice cream sandwiches) or scheduling a post-dinner movie for the kids — it just makes things a wee bit more manageable.
-On the other hand, even on the simplest of evenings I incorporate a few special touches. I will elaborate on this a bit tomorrow.
-Music is key for us and we LOVE pandora. You just plug in a favorite artist and voila! it creates an instant playlist. Some of our favorite ‘kid/dance friendly’ channels are: Dan Zanes, Kool & the Gang, Ray Charles & Bob Marley. And then we switch gears during & after dinner — Edith Piaf, Astrud Gilberto, Billy Holiday, Tom Waits …
-Scattering balloons around is easy and instant entertainment for the kids. Music + balloons = happy dancing kids.

Ok. That is it for now … more to come in the days to follow. Also, I look forward to hearing your thoughts & ideas too.