A Guide To Stylish Kid-Friendly Get Togethers

Entertaining guests at your home can be a very personal affair. Intimate gatherings hosted by you in the space where you're coziest are invitations for others to make themselves comfortable in the place you call home. "When friends come by you want them to feel special and welcome," home and garden stylist Cynthia Zamaria told The New York Times. Welcome your friends and their kids to your next gathering in style by preparing your place to host guests of all ages.

When hosting a dinner party, a beautiful atmosphere that caters to every guest will set the tone for a fun evening. Adult gatherings with kids in tow are an absolute reality for grown-ups who don't have alternative care, and that's okay. They can be a fun way for adults to mingle while kids play and get to know each other. Here are some tips for including little party-goers in your next soiree and ensure they have just as much fun as the adults. Find the perfect dinnerware, seating styles, place cards, accent rugs, and flameless decor to make your home more kid-friendly for your next successful gathering.

Mix up the seating arrangements

When setting up your next get-together, make your table stand out by mixing up the seating arrangements. Adults and kids sit at a table differently, making the need for alternative seating a must. Stay away from kid-size tables and chairs and keep all the seating options standard height but different. Accommodate all the guests at your gathering by arranging seats around the table that vary in materials, styles, and shapes.

Adults can sit in almost any chair style, as long as it's comfortable to sit through a meal, while children may find an entirely different style more suitable. Accommodate your little guests by adding a dining bench to the seating options at the table. Dining benches like this one at Target are ideal for maximum occupancy and space conservation. Benches are kid-approved, can fit more than just one individual, and are a fun alternative to a traditional seat, which may be all you need to wrangle their attention for dinner. After the party, use the bench at your dining table or as decor in the entryway. Mixing dining chairs provides an eclectic design that makes the table a focal point and increases visual interest.

Set the table with durable dinnerware

Whether sitting next to the food buffet style or arranged on the table for a formal meal, every party needs plates. Purchasing disposable plates is one route and takes one less step out of cleaning up, but they're a one-time thing, and you'll need new ones each time. Save the landfill space and trips to the store by considering reusable dinnerware as a sustainable option for your kid-friendly get-togethers.

Consider investing in a set of dishware that you can use at any party, regardless of the guest list. Melamine plates like these at West Elm are reusable and durable, making them ideal for all ages. Plastic, stoneware, and acrylic are other materials that are reusable, sturdy, and kid-friendly. Find plates in neutral colors to fit any design theme or color scheme. Customize your dining materials with a design-forward focus and set the table with sustainable tableware that adds personality to the table and pizazz to the food.

Create a relaxed tablescape

Less is more for table decor for kid-friendly gatherings. "Nowadays when friends come over, everything is relaxed and child-friendly," interior designer of Chan and Eayrs design firm in London, Zoe Chan Eayrs told The New York Times. "It doesn't have to be neat. Children's writing is always very charming." Chill vibes only. Layer your table with a neutral tablecloth or unfussy table runner. Ideally, it will be something that you won't mind getting a stain or two on — even adults create spills. Tablecloths are transformative decor and can be simply stunning for switching up the design for a get-together, not to mention they stylishly protect the table underneath.

Alternatively, you can ditch the linens entirely and opt for something more creative for the ultimate care-free table setup. Just decorate the table with plain paper and crayons so the kiddos (and adults) can draw their imaginations out on paper before, during, and after the meal. Maintain a light mood and keep the parents and children entertained with an interactive table for those in attendance and a laid-back table design. Traditional or unconventional is up to your style preference, but either is a crowd pleaser.

Make handcrafted centerpieces

Try to maintain simplicity when it comes to what to place in the center of the table. The desired result is to minimize any complications or interactions from guests while still decorating with something that is a focal point. Centerpieces are typical table decor for parties of all sorts, even ones with kids. One tip is to make the table decor kid-proof by placing it at the center, making smaller hands less likely to reach it. The decorative elements you place at the center should not constrict views or inhibit conversation. It shouldn't get in anyone's way.

When creating a chic centerpiece for your table setting, try to begin with simple pieces you already have. Ground your design with glass vases you have tucked away, decorative planters, or neutral containers. These vessels will spark interest amongst the table regardless of what greenery you put inside. No centerpiece, no problem. Just turn it into a kids' craft. Start the evening with something for the young ones, and set aside time for the kids to make a floral centerpiece with different color tissue paper, per Smart School House. It pays to have unique centerpieces at a get-together as they are not only statement pieces amongst the decorations, but they can serve as an ice breaker for guests. Let the little ones take their craft home at the end of the evening as a souvenir.

Use baskets to gather belongings

Your guests will often come with personal items for get-togethers. You know, all the typical stuff like purses, shoes, hats, and such. Add any kiddos in tow to the guest list, and include those belongings. Where does all of it go? That's where baskets strategically placed around your home come in handy. You can decorate with baskets or set a few at the entry as a place for guests to keep their things.

A lidded basket, like this one from Pottery Barn, is perfect for decoratively concealing belongings. Slide these baskets under an entryway table or alongside a sofa for guests to leave their shoes, bags, or miscellaneous items. A proper place to store belongings while people visit is a part of creating a welcoming experience. After a fun, kid-friendly evening, every parent won't have to search the house for their kids' toys and shoes. They will know exactly where their items are when they're ready to leave. Easy-peasy.

Decorate with low-maintenance area rugs

Does your home have hardwood or tile floors? Walking on these hard surfaces can be cold and unpleasant. Inject the interior with a mass of personality and character by decorating the floors with beautiful area rugs. Area rugs are highly transformative as they can instantly liven a space and dress the room up for the party. Rugs bring comfort to a room, especially for those who will walk, sit, or perhaps even lie on them.

Decorate the interior with comfy and low-maintenance rugs for everyday use or just rolled out for the gathering. If you are shopping for rugs for your interior, there are features to consider beyond design. A living room rug for your home should be pretty and hold up to the wear and tear of foot traffic. Anticipate your guests, kids, and adults, and plan to decorate your space with a washable rug like the ones available at Ruggable. Accidents happen, life is unpredictable, and you cannot prevent something from dirtying the carpet. However, you can style the floors with oriental, floral, geometric, or Persian-style rugs that won't distract you from being the hostess with the mostest.

Incorporate patterns into the common area

When decorating your interiors for a kid-friendly gathering, consider adding elements with creative patterns in bold colors to help break up space and add interest. Don't be afraid to get a bit courageous with color in the common areas of your house since they will make your home more welcoming to guests. Bright shades usually do best in rooms for entertaining. Draw attention to specific areas of the house by incorporating bright shades in the areas where you want guests to hang out. Chances are they will gravitate toward those more intense color-filled rooms.

"In general, prints and patterns are very child-friendly," interior designer Linda Eyles told Homes & Gardens. Try adding plaid pillows to the chairs for visual interest and backrests for those small and tall who may need some extra lumbar support. You can layer an additional area rug on top or drape a tablecloth over the table in a colorful, bold print. Every interior needs patterns at play. Child-friendly patterns and prints make parties more fun and can help hide any messes.

Add flameless candles for a cozy glow

Kid-friendly functions catered toward entertaining adults don't have to sacrifice style. You can have a glam interior adaptable for all guests with slight adjustments. There are many great reasons to decorate with lit candles around the home, but the flames naturally draw curiosity. You can still set the mood in your space by decorating all around with warm glowing candles without the open flame.

Candles at a kid-friendly gathering? Yes! Limit the possibility of accidents by avoiding traditional flames and decorating the interior or exterior with battery-operated faux flame candles. If you love the low glow of a flickering candle, but smaller guests are within reach of the flame, consider placing LED or flameless candles like these from Walmart amongst the table decor instead. Flameless candles are perfect for lanterns, glass containers, or shelves and mantels. They are available in different sizes, styles, and colors, perfect for making any kid-friendly event stylish.

Use unique place cards

An essential part of hosting a party is letting guests know where to sit at mealtime. Set place cards on the table as an easy way for guests to find their seats without pointing, shouting, or needing directions. Decorative place cards can be a unique tool to anchor your table design and make a great first impression on guests, big and small. They're that extra touch that never goes unnoticed at a gathering.

When creating a tablescape for a kid-friendly party, typical place cards with names may not be suitable for all your guests, as perhaps not all of them can read. Use this decorating opportunity to let your creativity shine and think of some placeholder ideas with pictures or images. A little extra pre-planning time will go into crafting personalized image place card holders for your guests. You can use cardstock, scissors, and some pictures from Instagram to create cute visual placeholders, per The Effortless Chic. A stylish table spread is in your future at your next kid-friendly get-together. 

Vary the seats in every room

Not every get-together is about where the eating takes place. Children and adults will likely branch off to other places to mingle, play games, and relax. It is not uncommon for guests to find their way to other rooms during a party. Therefore, you should focus on other seating arrangements assuming guests, adults, and kids will be in different parts of the house before, during, or after the meal. Besides the sofa, where else can people sit in your home?

A round ottoman is one of those stunning versatile furniture pieces to include in the living room. This furniture piece is perfect for adults as a footrest and ideal for little ones who need a place to lean or sit. A leather ottoman, like this one from CB2, is durable and a practical shape for most common areas. If you have a coffee table in the mix, consider adding a pair of knitted poufs to one of the sides as alternative seats. You can decorate other small furnishings like wood stools and benches when not used as seats.

Dazzle guests with the right lighting

Think about the lighting in the areas your guests, big and small, will frequent the most. That means everywhere, including the bedrooms, the hallways, living rooms, entryways, outdoor spots, and dens. You want the rooms well-lit but dim enough to be comfortable for extended periods. Styling your interior with well-balanced lighting enhances the room's overall aesthetic. The right type of lighting in an interior creates drama and cozy spots in a home.

"Set up a lighting strategy that makes your home sparkle," interior designer Elaine Griffin told Real Simple. "You'll want to avoid bright overhead lights. Instead use a combination of candles and lamps to create soft pools of light throughout your space." Flameless candles are great for inducing a soft ambiance, while table and floor lamps illuminate more space for easy visualization. No one wants to hang out in a dark room, so combining both lighting types will unify the atmosphere and create a comfortable setting.

Avoid activities that make a mess

Are you planning activities for your party? Make them friendly for all invitees (adults and kids) and keep them low-maintenance. No matter the theme and however cute a coordinating activity may be, it's not worth the hassle of a mess or multiple steps. Extravagant games that take more time to put together, clean up, or supervise than play become obstacles at a get-together. The key to a successful activity is minimizing the materials and maximizing the experience.

Besides DIY stations or craft centers which could consist of many parts and time-consuming clean-up, go back to the basics with board games. "There's something fresh about putting your phone away and going back to what things used to be," event planner Elisabeth Accardi told Matha Stewart. "There's really something for everybody." If you don't already have some, purchase new games and place them out in the open for guests to grab at will. Collaborative, strategic, and funny games will be best at a gathering. While there are board games for all ages, use your personal judgment when choosing which to include for your friends.

Treat them like adults if they can join the conversation

Ditch the kiddie table and incorporate the younger kids with the bigger kids (adults). Every little kid loves when they can finally sit at the grown-up table, so include the little ones at the main setup if they can hang. "Kids should be at their own table until they are old enough to contribute to an adult conversation," Ted Allen, host of the Food Network show "Chopped," told Real Simple. Settle in and hope that the youngest guests rise to the occasion.

Instead of coordinating multiple tables, try to sit everyone at a long rectangular table with rows of seats on either side. Pending the guest list size and space, you can coordinate all your guests at one table and divide them by age categories. Arrange for all the younger attendees to corral at one end of the table and adults at the other. There are plenty of ways to be creative when hosting a get-together for adults and kids at your home without sacrificing your interior decor. Prepare your place for guests of all ages, from the floor to the dinnerware, chairs, and centerpieces. Use the inspirations from this guide to set the table for your next kid-friendly get-together in style.