As a young, soon-to-be married gal, I didn't have a clue how to entertain young kids at a fancy party. Fortunately for me, I didn't have any on my guest list: My then 10-year-old cousin, the smallest wedding attendee, was perfectly happy to boogie on the dance floor with her siblings.
But now that I'm a mom to two kids under the age of four, I know how tough it can be to keep a child calm, cool and collected through a grown-up event. So I can tell you exactly how to endear yourselves to the parents of young kids (and the wee ones themselves): customize a few details to make your big event a lot more kid-friendly.
1. Create a kids-only menu. There may be a kid or two on your guest list with sophisticated palates (my four-year-old adores sushi), but trust me...these are an anomaly. Have your caterer whip up a simple pasta or mac and cheese, chicken fingers or pizza. The kids will love it, and the parents will love having a night off from the "try it, you'll like it" daily drag. (Bonus: Kid-friendly dishes are notoriously cheap.)...
2. Offer a variety of activities. Many brides put together craft projects and coloring books to help kids make it through the dinner hour without too much fidgeting. My advice: Make sure you offer more than one activity, as each one is good for about 15 minutes of fun before boredom (and mischief) set in. Think mini Lego kits, sticker books, Mr. Potato Heads and even Play-Doh. Avoid toys that roll, unless you want someone tripping on a Matchbox car on the dance floor, or a ball knocking over champagne glasses. Board games are great for older kids.
3. Price out a babysitter. If you want to really impress the parents on your guest list, hire a sitter or two to mind the little ones—perhaps even in a separate room. Attending a fancy, romantic event with a free sitter is like winning the lottery, and you and your wedding will both be remembered quite fondly. — Lisa Milbrand, acting deputy editor, Modern Bride Magazine