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Last minute party help

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
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So, I attempted to casually invite a few families with small children from my neighborhood (5) to our house for lunch on Sunday. We have a big holiday parade in our town and I thought a lunch/play-date before the parade would be a great way to get to know everyone better. All 5 families have agreed to come. Those 5 families plus one close friend and little bit of family bring us to 18 kids under the age of 6 ( :shock: ) and 12 adults. I'm getting nervous because although I imagined it to be casual, even casual is a lot of work for this many people! I come from a very small family and have a small group of friends so this is entirely new to me. Here's what I'm trying to resolve:

- Our house is not large but the living dining area is the biggest area (LR is 25' X 18' and DR is 13' X 13') so I *think* we can fit that many people. I'll bring in extra chairs but it's okay if there's not a place for everyone to sit at all times, right?
- Food? Any good suggestions that won't take me a ton of time? I'm thinking maybe crockpot stuff (pulled chicken, chili) and finger foods? Maybe now's the time to buy that Costco membership I've been wanting. :lol:
- You think people will go outside at all? We live in PA and it's going to be almost 50 degrees which is mild enough for the kids to play outside (IMO) but I'm thinking no one will eat outside?
- I'm not really planning anything to entertain the children. I figured they'll just play with my kids' toys and each other. This is ok, right?

Any and all suggestions welcome! I realize I probably sound socially inept. At a few years shy of 40, I've never hosted this many people before so I'm nervous.

What would you expect if a neighbor invited you and your young children to a lunch/play-date?
 
Q

Queenie60

Guest
Easy. A large cold cut tray with condiments on the side and rolls for small sandwiches. A few crock pots of either chili or other easy soup items with a few bowls and spoons. A beverage table with bottled waters and maybe a few juice boxes for the children. Everyone likes the small sandwich idea. Paper plates, napkins and a few disposable cutlery items and you're set! It's lunch so no need to go extreme on the meal. For dessert, a large plate of cookies. You're done! And you're right about the children, they will play outside and socialize with one another. Relax, it's a piece of cake!
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
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You really should have a seat for everyone, even if that includes sofa, chairs etc. I'm guessing you aren't having a sit down meal, more cocktail ish? You still need to have a seat available for everyone to sit should they want it, but it doesn't have to be a formal seat around the table.

Crockpot stuff is perfect. If you're doing something like pulled chicken, you can offer it up with slider buns and tortillas. People can make their own slider or taco. You'd just need the sides (guac, salsa, sour cream, cheese) and set it up.
Cheese, cracker and meat platters are also perfect for this. I believe Costco does this? But really, any grocery store will have pre-made, or you can cut it up yourself and save a bit of $.
Dips are also easy to make. My personal favourite is a jalapeno popper dip (http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/jalapeno-popper-dip/4e24905f-b357-471e-97ab-248242b65165) you can make ahead and pop in the oven just before everyone arrives.

Make sure to also have drinks available. Pitchers of water, pop, juice etc. If you have a fridge with an ice maker, you can start a few days ahead of time putting it into an ice bucket that you keep in the freezer. I've had my fridge run out of ice during a party and that's no fun! You can of course buy ice, but that's more work to me.

50F is 10C, so that's warm enough to go outside, but I would not eat outside. People may want to move outside if it gets too warm in your house (with so many people its hard not to!), but I wouldn't worry about having to serve anything.

I dont have/entertain kids, so I can't help on that aspect.

But general hosting etiquette: A seat for everyone, enough food and drink, and you'll be fine!

eta - After re-reading, it sounds like you aren't going to be at your home for TOO long before the parade, so I think JUST doing crockpot + something vegetarian is fine. If its just an hour or two you don't want too much left over food.
 

smitcompton

Ideal_Rock
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Hi,

Yes, I do think you should prepare for this luncheon by realizing that 18 children under the age of 6 are not just going to play with your kids toys. They may go outside to play, but someone has to watch them. Someone has to watch them no matter what they are doing. If they run, which they will, and scream, which they will, at some point you will have to settle them down. I suggest a nice story time in the living room. You are the hostess and maybe could get your husband to read the story.

You have invited the other families and I suspect they would like to socialize with each other and not have to watch kids. I think there should be chair for each adult. Kids can sit on the floor. I suggest you find a couple of teenagers to come for a few hrs to help with the kids. You can have unstructured play and some structured play. Lunch for the kids will be short. Perhaps finger food that is not drippy or gooey.

The other posters made good suggestions for food. I was concerned about 18 small kids.

Have a wonderful time and do be relaxed. See if you can find some help.

Annette
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
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18,196
Puppmom, who babysits for you? Iirc you have a teenaged daughter? (Sorry if I'm wrong) I was thinking you might want to enlist the help of 2 teens who could be responsible for watching the kids so the adults can socialize. Storytime was a good suggestion, or they could organize some games or outside activities so the house isn't full of so many kids underfoot.

I would have wine and beer on hand for those who want to imbibe before the parade. A make-your-own sandwich bar sounds great. You could also do a taco bar, that's easy and people love tacos. Do your meat in a crock pot and have a black bean filling for any vegetarians.

Enjoy yourself! Parties of more than 8 are stressful for me, too. I do them anyway but I'm always relieved when everyone leaves. Your lunch sounds like a festive and fun, and who doesn't love a parade? :dance:
 

yennyfire

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monarch64|1448058655|3952248 said:
Puppmom, who babysits for you? Iirc you have a teenaged daughter? (Sorry if I'm wrong) I was thinking you might want to enlist the help of 2 teens who could be responsible for watching the kids so the adults can socialize. Storytime was a good suggestion, or they could organize some games or outside activities so the house isn't full of so many kids underfoot.

I would have wine and beer on hand for those who want to imbibe before the parade. A make-your-own sandwich bar sounds great. You could also do a taco bar, that's easy and people love tacos. Do your meat in a crock pot and have a black bean filling for any vegetarians.

Enjoy yourself! Parties of more than 8 are stressful for me, too. I do them anyway but I'm always relieved when everyone leaves. Your lunch sounds like a festive and fun, and who doesn't love a parade? :dance:
Great minds Monnie! I was going to suggest the same thing...get a couple of 12-14 year old girls to come play games/supervise so that you and all of the adults can relax and visit. Sandwich platters and a crockpot of soup/chili sounds perfect (and maybe a big pot of Mac-n-cheese for kids?). A cookie platter or big batch of brownies for dessert. Paper plates to make clean up easy.

Remember to put away anything you'd be upset if it got broken. With that many kids, accidents will happen.

I'm not a relaxed entertainer either, so do what I say and not what I do.....relax and enjoy!
 

tuffyluvr

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I think you're right on track with food ideas. Pulled pork or pulled chicken with little slider buns are a great idea. If you do chili, make sure you buy paper bowls so you have enough bowls for everybody. Another option is Frito pies--where you cut a slit in a bag and spoon some chili on top with a sprinkle of cheese and eat with a plastic spoon. It's not fancy, but it's low mess and (at least where I'm from) very popular. Another idea is buying the bulk boxes of tacquitos or mini quiches. Those bake up very easily and they're hearty finger food.

As far as kids entertainment goes, do you have any fun outdoor games like cornhole/bags or kids horseshoes (the one with plastic rings, not metal horseshoes, of course). Those type of games work for small to medium groups and would encourage at least some of the kids to play outside so your house isn't being marauded. You could also turn on a kid's holiday movie in the living room or den to entertain other kids (if it's not during football hours or if you have 2 tvs).
 

canuk-gal

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HI:

Great suggestions for the teens who might help. They tend to be good at multitasking and taking orders!! :bigsmile:

Do you have a play station/area? Kids will migrate there...so like your valuables elsewhere, put away games and stuff you might not want (accidently) damaged. Also, kids sit on the floor--they make themselves comfy...wherever. Hence, place extra (throw) pillows and blankets help to provide comfort. Kids will use them if they want, and leave the rest. Oh and perhaps a small garbage handy so paper plates and cuts can be discarded there.

Extra hand towels in the bathrooms.

cheers--Sharon
 

Puppmom

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Thanks for all of the great ideas so far! I'm definitely going to have to work on the seating! We have tons of outdoor toys so I'll be sure to pull them from the garage.

Monnie, said teenage daughter is now 21 with a child of her own who adds to the chaos. :shock: But I think you guys are onto something. I do have one friend with teenage daughter who may come and maybe I can suggest she bring a friend!

I
 

PintoBean

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In a pinch, a subway sandwich platter!
 

monarch64

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PintoBean|1448063153|3952273 said:
In a pinch, a subway sandwich platter!

Does anyone want to eat Subway after the Jarod scandal? Pardon me for not wanting to eat a pedophile sandwich. ;)) But yes, a pre-assembled sandwich platter would work well in this situation.
 

december-fire

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That's so nice of you to invite everyone over. :appl:

I would hope that you've received offers from the other parents to bring something over.
If you have, don't turn them down! People usually feel more at ease in a situation like that if they help out with food, entertaining kids, or clean-up.

When parents and their children are in my home, I expect the parents to continue to be responsible for their own children.
Its considerate for you to rope in your daughter or others to keep an eye on the kids and help with entertaining, but its not like you offered to babysit 18 kids so the parents could party. :lol:

You've received great ideas.

I skimmed the other responses, so my apologies if this was already mentioned, but with so many young children, I'd be assessing my home for what might not be child-proof. You might want to have some rooms off-limits.

Try to keep it simple, don't take on all the responsibility, ask guests to help during the get-together by delegating some things, and have fun!
 

Gypsy

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In PA you have Jersey Mikes. Personally, I'd do a sub platter with an Italian combo, one turkey type, and maybe a club or roast beef. I'd make a crockpot of mac and cheese for kids and vegetarians, and another of chilli. Cookies or brownies for dessert. If you a nice pasta salad recipe.that's a good.addition too.

As a teenager I hated being invited to things as free slave labor so I would pay the teens ans also give them 5 dollar Starbucks gift cards as thank you gifts.

A seat for everyone is a must. And so is a nice.selection of drinks, IMO. Water, iced tea, and juice for kids is my go to, personally.
 

Puppmom

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Hi, all. Thanks so much for the thoughtful advice! It was so helpful. The party was a success! Some bullets:

- Food - we had pulled chicken (super easy), mac and cheese (Note to self: never again will I attempt to shred cheese when in a rush!) - both of these were kept warm in a crockpot. We also had tomato pie, mini-hot dogs, pizza bites and chicken nuggets. Our snacks were veggies, cream cheese with chutney poured over and crackers, chips, cookies and cupcakes. Drinks - we had soda, water, juice, coffee and beer. I looked into catering or pre-made trays but decided against it because of the expenses and two of my close friends offered up their services and ideas and pitched in last minute like only best girlfriends do.

- Children - we put our outdoor toys in our front yard, had a play-doh table, a craft table (just pre-made kit to make fall masks) and our table cloth was a Thanksgiving theme that could be colored in. Our house is already pretty kid proof since we have a 5 and 2 year old and a 1 year old grandson. My daughter thought to bring over a few baby seats since there were going to be three infants. That helped!

Set-up - thanks for the seating advice. I borrowed some folding chairs so there were enough seats for everyone. We also borrowed a cooler because, after some thought, I was worried people would be more likely to have drinks if they didn't have to open my fridge to get them.

What I would have done differently? Every single time someone asked what they could bring I said nothing. That was a big mistake! If everyone brought something that would have cut down on my time spent considerably.

We had a few minor mishaps - my very large dog can't attend parties any more. He eats food right off the table. He used to be so good but got a taste of human food a couple of Thanksgivings ago and he's been difficult around food when we have company ever since. My nephew let him out of the doggie palace we had set up for him and my 100lb dog came tearing through the house with excitement. One of my five year old's shoes is missing - no idea where that is. A one year old drew all over his face at the craft table. Also, I'm a bit socially awkward. One of my neighbors said, "Thanks for having us over!" and I responded "No thank you!"...I meant "No problem." :oops:

All in all, I would totally do it again! We live in a such a small neighborhood and it is nice to spend time with families with children the same age as ours. Now we'll probably all hibernate for winter and see each other again in spring!
 

december-fire

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It sounds wonderful!

Thanks for coming back to let us know how things went and providing your thoughts! :appl:

Yes, always accept offers to help!

You're being too hard on yourself. Nothing wrong with your response of 'No, thank you'. I always thank guests for coming over.
 

PintoBean

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monarch64|1448064780|3952283 said:
PintoBean|1448063153|3952273 said:
In a pinch, a subway sandwich platter!

Does anyone want to eat Subway after the Jarod scandal? Pardon me for not wanting to eat a pedophile sandwich. ;)) But yes, a pre-assembled sandwich platter would work well in this situation.

OMG hahaha and he blamed the subway diet too!
 

PintoBean

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The minor mishaps have me :lol: :lol: :lol: especially with the 1-year old that drew all over his face :lol: :lol: :lol:
 
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