You just found out your cousin is bringing her three children to your wedding reception. Does this make you nervous and conjure up visions of her wee ones running rampant after they’ve had too much from the dessert table? By thinking ahead and preparing entertainment suitable for the ages of children attending, you and the parents will be able to relax and enjoy the day.
Very young children will obviously need to be with their parents at the reception tables, and a children’s table can be set to accommodate older children. Keep in mind, some children are painfully shy, so they may prefer to sit with parents, even if they are older. A separate children’s menu, or incorporating child-friendly foods would be a must. Use plastic drinking cups with straws rather than glass at a children’s table to prevent accidents and upset children. As children can become irritable if hungry, and may not be able to wait for the food to be served, offer crackers and juice or water right from the start of the reception for them. Knowing whether there are any food allergies ahead of time would be wise, and helpful for the caterers. Consider staggering the meal by feeding the children first, then having the children entertained so that parents can sit and enjoy their food.
Investing in a “babysitter”, or two, depending on the number of children involved is a frequently used idea. If possible, allocate a “quiet room” for naps (or time-outs). The sitter can be given a list of suitable activities to help entertain the children, and may have to get the children interested by joining in. Children attending will probably be dressed in good clothes, so be sensitive to the fact that their parents may not appreciate them joining in activities that might end up with their clothing being stained or damaged (eg. washable markers and crayons only for colouring). Simple, age appropriate prizes for activities can be purchased at a dollar store.
Check the local phone book or newspaper for professional entertainers such as magicians, story tellers, or face painting artists. Setting up a separate movie room is another option.
Get teens involved if possible. You could assign projects such as having them take candid shots of the guests with disposable cameras you have purchased ahead of time, and set on tables. Inform them that their pictures will be reviewed and they will be given a prize for the best photos. Another fun idea would be to get them to teach a group of guests some dance steps, and then let them “judge” a couple of dances performed. Make sure your band or DJ is aware that there may be teens or small children so that appropriate music can be included for them to participate. Having a “Children Only” set of dance music would be not only fun for the children but would bring smiles to the faces of many a parent and grandparent.
Some activity ideas for children:
- Have them draw and colour pictures of the bride and groom and what they think their children will look like.
- Let them tell a story, made into pictures, of how or where they met the bride and groom.
- Use scrap-booking items to make colorful dividers for photo albums.
- Use their imagination to create artwork using popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners purchased at a dollar store.
- A scavenger hunt.
- Have trivia questions prepared. The questions could be about the bride and groom and their families, or about the location, etc.
- Games such as mini putt, air hockey, ring toss, or simple board games like tic tac toe, X‘s and O‘s.
- Pin the “veil” on the Bride.
- Have dollar store jewelry and/or a box of costumes for them to play “dress-up” games.
Some children are not very good at sharing, so if you choose activities such as colouring or making puzzles, make sure there is a set for every child (can be labelled with their names) so there are no tears, or worse yet, temper tantrums.
Having a basket with items such as diapers and wipes in the ladies washroom would be a smart idea, and much appreciated by parents. Also, a little first aid kit with children’s aspirin, bandaids and antibiotic cream, products that relieve insect bites and allergic reactions could be easily put together “just in case”.
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