Monday, January 13, 2014

Kiddie Corner: How to Keep Your Young Guests Entertained

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One of the flowergirls at the royal wedding just wasn't having any of it! 

Weddings are a celebration for family and friends as much as for the bride and groom, so it stands to reason that young people (i.e., children) will be attending your nuptials. Of course, even the most angelic of youngsters can turn devilish during a long ceremony or formal reception. But it’s relatively easy to keep both children and adults happy by following these simple guidelines.

Give Them Time Out
When children get bored or restless, the best thing to do is remove them from the adult space and let them have some time to themselves. Giving kids a chance to get away from all the grown up stuff is the best way to ensure their continued good behavior.

Most churches have a cry room were unsettled babies and toddlers can be taken for a breather. If your wedding is at a hotel or other venue, reserve an anteroom or outdoor space for this purpose. Make sure there are toys, videos and books available for the toddler set, a nearby bathroom for diaper emergencies and a comfortable place to sit for mom and dad. If possible, provide a view of the ceremony through a window or close-circuit television. If you provide a babysitter, the adult guests can return to the ceremony as soon as their child is settled.

A separate room or seating area at the reception is also a good idea. Make sure, if you have youngsters in a separate room, that you arrange for appropriate supervision. Have games or crafts available for them and quick access to parents if needed. Child friendly music, television or videos, and room to run, can make a small space into a haven for busy young bodies. Having their own seating card and special menu makes children feel special at mealtime as well.

Busy Hands Are Happy Hands
Did your grade school teacher ever tell you that? This tried and true maxim works at weddings too! Try to have as many age-appropriate jobs available for the younger set as possible. Be creative. Children of all ages take great pride in being trusted with responsibility. There are many things that youngsters can do at a wedding to keep them occupied and keep the ceremony flowing smoothly.

As the guests arrive, older children can run the gifts to the reception area. Others can pass out hymnals or programs to guests. Consider showcasing youngster’s talents as well. Children are natural performers, so consider having them sing, read poetry or play a musical instrument inside or outside the venue as the guests arrive.

In addition to the traditional roles of flower girl and ring bearer, young children can also be trainbearers and candle lighters. One young lady can be assigned the arduous task of caring for the bride’s bouquet and young men will take great pride in being asked to escort guests or serve as ushers. After the ceremony youngsters can pass out rice or birdseed packets. And make sure your attendants arrange to have the little ones help decorate the get-a-way car—a favorite activity for the young and the young at heart.

Older children can be very helpful at the reception. They can serve as greeters, help guests find tables and even function as cake servers. Kids of all ages can provide entertainment by reading poems, giving prearranged toasts or even serving as runners who process requests for the band or DJ. Give kiddies disposable cameras and let them capture those images your professional photographer might miss. While the adults are toasting and dancing, supervised children also can help create crafty centerpieces or favors to hand out to guests as they leave the reception.

Let Me Entertain You!
Kids can have amazing attention spans when properly entertained. Keeping them entertained can keep your other guests happy as well. Before the ceremony, pass out goody bags filled with quiet games and toys to keep little ones occupied. Simple, quiet snacks like fruit chews come in very affordable, individually wrapped packages and make a nice, quiet snack for antsy little ones.

At the reception, hire some entertainment just for them. Have a clown or magician at the reception to keep the little ones entertained. Most local entertainers are licensed, bonded and will work for a little money and a free meal. Asking a guest with children for a recommendation ensures that you will get a quality entertainer and lets your guests know you’re thinking of their comfort. Simpler solutions include setting up a TV and DVD/VCR player in an anteroom or including those old favorites like the bunny hop and the chicken dance on your song list.

If you are planning an adults-only reception, consider sending children somewhere else for a few hours. Some of the best occupations for children can be found at destination locations. Cruise lines and cities like Las Vegas that cater to weddings have dozens of supervised activities for children to attend while the adults party, but if you are creative, you can keep the younger set occupied for hours in any location. Consider arranging a tour of local children’s museum or tickets to a children’s play. Most locations can even arrange for transportation and supervision during the outing.

A good host and hostess will plan for the comfort and convenience of all their guests. Keeping children occupied and entertained will ensure that a fun time is had by all. With a little extra planning and a little TLC, your wedding can be an enjoyable and memorable occasion for guests of all ages.

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