Hosting playdates is one of my most favorite things I get to do as a mom. There is something so exciting — and simultaneously terrifying — about opening your home to a slew of mommies (and daddies!) and their sweet, messy kiddos.
As my kids got older, though, the playdates that held their interest as toddlers started to feel a bit dull. They weren’t entertained by the same toys and crafts any longer. So my mommy friends and I were forced to become more creative with our playdates.
What are progressive playdates?
Modelled after progressive dinners, where you start your evening with appetizers at one person’s house, then pre-dinner drinks at another, and then the main course and so on, progressive playdates allowed our kiddos to be active and engaged. We never once heard “I’m bored!” through an entire afternoon’s playdate, because the scenery and activities were constantly changing.
How to plan a progressive playdate
Here are the steps to hosting a successful progressive playdate- perfect for summertime when the big kids are out of school!
You will make a total of six stops. It’s okay to repeat houses! It is just easiest to have each hostess have her activities set to go ahead of time so kids can just pop in and start playing! You will have someone host breakfast, then the next host will have a craft. The next stop will be outside play- a park is fine! Then lunch stop, then a rest time/movie stop, and lastly, a water stop. Assign each stop in advance and help the hostess brainstorm ideas so day of there is no work to be done! For meals- feel free to prepack lunches and just drop them with the lunch host before the stop. Or have each participant contribute one item for lunch- someone bring grapes, someone bring juice boxes, chicken nuggets, and so on!
What to do at stop one
Fuel up at the first stop! The stop one hostess supplies coffee, tea and water for the adults and some sort of breakfast item for kids, such as muffins or fruit. If you want to get everyone smiling, add juice boxes or mimosas to the stop. Spend 30-40 minutes enjoying coffee and letting kids eat and hang out. No specific craft or activity necessary!
Plan a craft activity at stop two
Stop two gets crafty! This host or hostess should have a craft set up and ready to go for kids. It can be as simple or elaborate as the kids’ ages allow. Since summer is (almost!) upon us, perhaps you do a summer-themed craft? Examples might be stamping with fruit (apples, pears) or making paper-plate watermelons or even DIY colored bubbles for stop number 3! This stop should only last long enough to complete the craft and assist the hostess with clean up. Then you move on!
Get active during step three
If you can walk or ride bikes to stop number three, do that! Encourage the kids to (safely) race one another to the next house! If you drive to the next stop, that’s fine, too! Have the next stop be the outside stop. You could also host this step at a nearby park or playground. Give kids 45 minutes of unstructured outside play. If this is hosted at someone’s house, you could also incorporate bubbles, bikes, chalk. Anything kids can use to get creative outside. Teach kiddos hopscotch or just push them on swings. Just let them enjoy the outdoors!
Beat hunger at stop four
Time for lunch! Head to someone’s house for a backyard picnic or indoor lunch. It works best if this hostess assembles lunch, or if you drop off your pre-made lunch, ahead of time. Have kids come in and wash their hands and be seated for the meal. Have kids talk about their favorite stop so far!
Plan some down time during stop five
Stop five is the rest stop. Perhaps parents with kids younger than three can head home for an hour or two for kids to sleep in their beds. For those with older kids who no longer nap, head to the next person’s house — or you could start back at house one! — for a movie and quiet time. Pick a movie that is universally liked (The Lion King or Toy Story are great options!), dim the lights, let kids get snuggly on blankets and pillows the host has already set out. Parents can hang out in the kitchen and enjoy lunch while littles rest.
Bring towels to the final stop
Aim to hit the last stop around 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. and involve all the water things! Head to the final house and make sure this house has water activities all set to go. Some ideas here: a kiddie pool, a slip n slide, sprinklers, water guns, water balloons. All things water! Let the kids run around and finish their awesome day by getting wet and enjoying summer outdoors! You may also include popsicles or watermelon here as a sweet way to end the day!
Once water play is done, your day is complete! Time to head home for dinner and get some much-needed rest! I’d love ideas on how to embellish or change a few of these steps- what works for you?
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