7 Tips for Surviving Holiday Parties With Kids in Tow

7 Tips for Surviving Holiday Parties With Kids in Tow

Plan ahead to keep festive family gatherings fun and stress-free for everyone.


By Betsy Voreacos

What’s the only thing worse than being a kid dragged along to a dull adult holiday function? Being the adult doing the dragging! So if you’ve ever suffered through a party with a whiny, clinging kid – even one who isn’t yours – you’ll appreciate these tips to help the youngest guests feel included and have a good time, too.

If You’re Hosting:

  1. Hire a Sitter
    If you’re hosting a party, hire a teenager or two (make sure they’re the type who will really play with the kids, not just sit and watch) to supervise a fun-filled “Kids Only” room. Have lots of toys and games on hand, plus plenty of kid-friendly food and drink options. The kids will have to be dragged out of the party, not into it!
  2. Have a Craft Corner
    Set up an area for crafts for the kids. You can get as industrious as you dare, but there are lots of minimal-mess projects that will keep the kids busy. Of course you have to consider the age of the kids for safety’s sake, and it’s a good idea to appoint an older kid (or the aforementioned sitter) to be in charge.
  • Make snowmen out of white paper plates, pompoms, pre-cut construction paper shapes, and washable markers.
  • Create ornaments from dessert-sized white paper plates. Pre-glue ribbons to the back of the plate (for hanging) and offer multi-colored tissue paper circles to glue to the plate.
  • Make wooden stick ornaments. Glue two flat sticks together in an X and add another straight across to look like a snowflake. Add a ribbon for hanging, and let the kids glue on mini marshmallows or wrap the sticks in white yarn for a soft “snow” effect.
  • Create holiday cards with white construction paper, colored pencils, and an assortment of festive stickers.

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  1. Set the Stage
    Kids love to perform, so give them the stage! Help them come up with an idea or see where their creative genius takes them. (If your kids have a magic kit or book, you can offer that, too.) Have them practice, practice, practice in a private room and then be prepared to be amazed at show time.
  2. Enlist Their Help
    Kids can be great helpers when they’re given age-appropriate tasks. Enlist them to walk the room with plastic trays of hors d’oeuvres, hand out party favors, or collect empty plates and cups.
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If You’re a Guest:

  1. Prepare Kids in Advance
    Explain the specifics as best you can: where you’re going, who will be there, what activities are planned, and what behavior is expected of your kids. When you arrive, scope out a quiet spot where overwhelmed little ones can go with you to take a break if they need to.
  2. Pack a “Survival Bag”
    You can hope, but don’t expect that your host will have anything in place for the kids. Pack a bag with toys, games, dolls, lovies, or electronics – anything that will comfort and contain your “I’m bored!” child. (Label everything with your last name on a piece of tape before you go.)
  3. Know the Menu
    If your kid is a picky eater or has an allergy, ask the host ahead of time about the food. He or she might offer to have a special dish or snack on hand for your little one, or you can just bring safe options yourself. The last thing you want at a holiday party is a hangry kid!

How do you keep your kids entertained at holiday parties?


Betsy lives with her family a stone’s throw from New York City. An overly involved mother of three children, Betsy has always been acutely aware of her shortcomings as a parent, not to mention those of her children. She documents her life in the brutally honest Old Minivans Die Hard.

Image ©iStock.com/slobo


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