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Children at social occasions

children at social occasions

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Sorry, no children

Everyone loves a good party! So whenever an invitation to a wedding or birthday bash drops through your letter box (or more likely these days into your inbox), it’s cause for celebration. But sometimes reading the proverbial small print can take the shine off somewhat. Nestled there among the dates and venues, the ‘proud to announces’ and ‘smart, casuals’ are three seemingly innocent words – ‘sorry, no children’. This, for many parents, spells the start of weeks of deliberations, debates and dilemma.

What to do?

Firstly, do you want to go to a ‘do’ where half your family isn’t welcome? (Sorry, have we met? Yes? In which case you might have worked out that my kids aren’t like hand luggage, to be left behind so I can travel light!) OK, for an evening-only party that’s nearby, this may not be a concern – you’ll be glad of an occasional night out without the nippers. But for a full-day wedding, reception and an overnight stay… ? If you haven’t seen your kids all week because you’re working, how keen are you to ‘ditch’ them for the weekend too?

Secondly, is it even possible? We don’t all have obliging Grannies on tap to field our kids so we can go on a jolly. And if we do, should we inflict upon them a day of insatiable climbing and throwing, followed by a night of sleeplessness and whinging, while we whoop it up on the dance-floor, champers in hand?

And what about all that the children will miss out on – spending time with family and friends they see only once or twice a year; the excitement of staying up late and breaking with routine; dressing up, dancing and cake! Surely a wedding isn’t complete without a baby-bridesmaid asleep on two chairs pushed together, with Uncle John’s jacket over her for a blanket. How many of us have fond memories of Peter Kay-style knee-slides across a dance floor, and the smallest toddler dancing on Grandad’s feet? Even the teenagers hiding behind their hair in a dark corner, pretending to be too cool to join in, have their place at a good family ‘do’!

children at social occasions

Its individual choice

But of course it’s everyone’s prerogative to have their wedding or party the way they want it. For all sorts of reasons, though, excluding children can mean almost automatically excluding their parents too. So what’s the alternative – how do you include the kids without spoiling the grown-ups fun?

Family friendly hosts

Family-friendly hosts could do worse than provide presents for each child at the table, with toys/activities to keep them entertained through the speeches (and if your hosts don’t do this, then come prepared yourself!). High-chairs are a must, and it’s helpful to have a reasonably kid-friendly menu (how many children will happily tackle smoked salmon and horseradish?)

Some organisers opt for a venue with some outside space, or a separate room for kids to play in (with appropriate supervision of course).  If the venue has accommodation, then it’s great if this is offered to parents first – if we’re staying on site, we’ll stay longer at your party, especially if it’s somewhere with a baby-sitting service.

And if there is to be any ‘adults-only’ entertainment (although surely you covered that at the stag/hen) please make sure this is made clear to guests in advance, so we can make an informed choice about when to pack the kids off to bed!

Go prepared

We parents can make it easier on ourselves too, and less of a ‘nuisance’ for others, if we come to the party prepared. Make sure you bring spare clothes – even older children might get carried away with the excitement and have an unexpected ‘accident’. And don’t get too precious about that silk dress from Monsoon, you’ve put it on a two-year-old, what were you expecting? Parents of fussy eaters probably always carry snacks, but even if your child eats well, the fancy party food might not suite them. And of course remember that fave toy and PJs for the drive home. Plus a baby monitor if you’re staying at the venue (even if your children aren’t babies any longer), then you can put the little ones to bed and party on…

Just remember that however exhausted they are at night by all the dancing, excitement, playing and staying up late, they’re still going to wake up at an ungodly hour in the morning, so your post-party hangover will have to take a back seat!









About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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