One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends and family for barbeques and backyard fun. We all know that when kids are involved, it’s always great to have ways for them to stay entertained and busy, so the adults have a chance to relax, catch up and have fun too! Well, at least try to anyway. One of our favorite backyard activities is an outdoor movie night! Using a projector and a sheet, you can easily turn your backyard into a starry cinema. Use pool floats and blankets for comfy seating. Invite guests to bring their own. Even an empty kiddie pool filled with cozy cushions or an inflatable mattress makes an excellent place to lounge, and a great place to be if little ones fall asleep mid-movie. Don’t forget their jammies!
One of the keys to having a party where the adults are having as much fun as the kids is making it so that everyone has what they need and not having to continually ask. Any parent knows having a full adult conversation with limited interruptions is rare and amazing when it happens!
~Fill small bags of popcorn and put them in a box or basket so everyone can grab one.
~Do the same for candy if you are offering it. Buy larger bags and put together small snack size amounts. This can help to prevent kids from over doing it and minimize the sugar highs! If you are the host, be the “bad guy” and let everyone know they only get one bag of candy each. Kids are less likely to whine and ask you for more, and their parents will thank you!
~Have a basket with small flashlights and glow sticks. Another with a container of wipes and bug spray so parents can easily wipe sticky hands and ward off bugs if needed.
Other tips that work for a movie night,or just a regular day or evening BBQ, are to designate a “kids only” area. Put their snacks and drinks in a separate location from the grownups. Poor Aunt Edna does not want to see a parade of kids double dipping the hummus she just ate. But make it fun and functional. Put dips for the kids in taller glasses with a spoon (harder to dip into). Use the very small size cups and spoon a small amount of dip into each for the kids to grab and take. They can refill from the taller glass if they want more.
Label the kids cups with a marker. Fill a jug with a spigot so guests of all ages can easily help themselves to ice water and cut down on the number of half empty water bottles lying around. If serving juice boxes, put them out only at meal/dessert time so there isn’t a run on them too early.
Put glow sticks in beverage tubs in the ice around the drinks for the adults. Not only does it look fun at night, but it’s a great way to see the selection as it gets dark.
Fire pits and s’mores are one of the best parts of summer! Don’t you agree? However, sometimes it can be a little nerve-wracking for parents, especially with real little ones, to truly enjoy themselves around an open fire with kids trying to roast marshmallows. The perfect solution? An individual s’mores station(s). Using small terra cotta pots or one long shallow container, fill with small stones or sand and set sterno cans into it. Have an old chip and dip platter? Use the space for dip to set the can into and fill the surrounding sections with marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Use skewers with the sharp point cut off for roasting. Perfect solution so all ages can enjoy- even Aunt Edna might get in on the fun!
Kids are pretty great at playing and having fun without much help from the grownups, but, just in case the murmurings of “we’re bored, there’s nothing to do” start, keep these easy games in your back pocket. Use a yoga mat (or two if you have them) to create a bowling ally. Use empty plastic bottles and a ball. The yoga mat makes it feel a little more like “real” bowling for the kids and the mat helps the ball to stay on course.
Lastly, take an empty container or bin, a balloon and two pool noodles. The object is to try and be the first one to get the balloon in the bin with the noodle without your opponent swatting it away with theirs.
What are some of your favorite backyard entertaining tips and tricks? Especially with kids. We’d love to hear!
~Monica & Erica