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My ideas to keep the children happy at the evening celebrations

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merrymunky

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I had a brainwave!

There will not be a vast number of children at the evening celebrations for our wedding, at most around 10 between the ages of 3 and 13.

Now the teaching assistant in me has had some ideas as to what these children can do at the evenng celebration. We all know that often the children get tired, cranky or bored by this time of the day, especially at a wedding do where the forcus is not on them. It stresses the parents out and often the family will leave early. I don''t expect families with children to stay beyond 8.30 - 9.00pm but why not make the early part of the evening function a little more child friendly?

Here are my ideas:

- I am going to have a craft table set up. I don''t mind going to the function room the evening before to set it all up. The table will be protected with a plastic craft sheet to minimise mess and make it easy to clear away afterwards. (Just like the ones we use at work with the pupils). The table will be laid out with craft resources such as colouring pencils, crayons, colouring sheets (I have a great doodles book I can photocopy pages of - each page has a situation and a started picture, such as a basket of easter eggs, or a landscape with a leading questions or instructions such as "what can you see?" or "decorate the eggs in the basket"), tissue papers, stick on sparkly gems, glue sticks rather than pva to minimise mess and so on. They can choose to draw, colour, make flower bouquets with straws and tissue paper etc.

- I thought about having a little drawing competition whereby the children each draw a picture of the bride and groom. At say 8pm before the families with children go home we could have a judging panel of say 3 or 4 random guests who will choose a winner. The announcement is then made and the child chosen wins a prize.

- I also thought about purchasing plain white or ivory favour boxes. Using the resources on the table, the children can decorate them, stick on the sparklies etc and then fill their boxes with sweets to take home. That way everyone gets a "prize" for their efforts.

Hopefully this would be more than enough to keep them entertained for the hour or so thay attend. Also, I thought my two elder bridesmaids (12 years old) could help the little ones. Give them something else to do to help us all out.

What do you all think?
 

PilsnPinkysMom

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I liked most of the ideas, but have one concern (though it depends on the ages of the kids)... glue can be messy... And parents may dress their little cherubs in nice outfits for the day. I guess this is only a concern with ages 5 and under, though.

Having a bunch of colored pencils and stickers and crayons with coloring pages/blank paper sounds great, though! Even if you don''t have a drawing contest, I''m sure you could find a whole bunch of pages that are wedding-related? Flowers, cakes, dress, etc, etc? Or get a bunch of coloring books from the dollar store or something-- Disney, trucks, dinosaurs, kitties, etc. A fun variety


I do like the idea of a kids crafting table a lot, but if for some reason you can''t get one set up, you could always put a mini box of crayons and a cheap coloring book at each table where a child will be seated... in lieu of a regular favor?
 

merrymunky

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Thanks for the feedback.

Glue was a concern of mine too. Pritt sticks are relatively mess free. Although insted of that I could get hold of stick on gems etc to remove the need for glue completely. I actually have a few bags of decorative craft gems which I could attach glue dots to, then they can just peel off the covered layer and stick them straight onto the boxes.

The event is fairly low key. We have hired a function room in a pub. Its a decent size for up to 80 or so guests. We''re not having official seating placements for all the guests. After the ceremony (which is at 3pm) we will convene at the reception room for a sit down meal together. There will be no top table and seating arrangements as such. Then at 7pm the evening guests will filter in for a finger buffet, music and drinks.

The craft table will be set up in one corner to contain the mess! Although I think it will be mess free really, especially if we remove the glue option completely.
 

honey22

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Fantastic idea - the parents are going to love you to bits. The kids are happily entertained and Mum and Dad can enjoy their night out. Well done!
 

EricaR

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May I suggested duct tape, rope, and a closet?

Ohhhhhhhh! You were asking for ideas on how to keep them HAPPY! Not keep them out of the way...

 

darkeyesredshoes

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Hey, Merry! I don''t post on here often, but I read your great ideas and wanted to offer one thought of my own. As a kindergarten teacher (students aged 4-6), I''ve noticed that "winning" and "losing" don''t go over very well with my age group. If you''d like to have the drawing contest - the possible entries sound adorable - maybe everybody should get a prize? You could always have your junior bridesmaids come up with a category to describe each entry - most colorful, most sparkly, best use of stickers, etc. I know it sounds a little like t-ball, but you might not want any sore losers melting down and making you feel guilty after all the effort you''re putting into keeping them happy...

Take my advice with a grain of salt, of course. You know the kids coming to your wedding best!
 

merrymunky

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darkeyes - Please feel free to offer opinions. They are greatly recieved.
(Plus, it gives e a little reminder when issues like that slip my mind!!)

I totally see your point. I work with children myself (currently in a special school for children with a range of needs but the majority with Autism/ASD) and I know how they can be over the whole win/lose competition situations. I understand that every child matters and that we should encourage and praise each of them in some way.

The favour boxes are a way of making sure every child goes home happy and with something for their efforts. I was thinking about it last night after I posted this and had another thought too. Most of the children will be girls, so they will love the boxes, drawing etc. There will be approx 3-4 boys though. We thought about buying some boys toys for them, maybe the little airplane kits, or a little lego car to assemble or something. Maybe we could take out the competition element as such and have them draw a picture to showe everyone if they wish too, but they all get a "prize" whether or not they take part. The lego kits, airplanes will keep the boys happy (so the planes may end up in someone's drink at some point!! haha) and then maybe little bead jewellery projects for the girls?

Just thoughts. I have 4 months to formulate proper ideas.
 

arjunajane

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Date: 4/19/2009 10:35:44 PM
Author: darkeyesredshoes
Hey, Merry! I don''t post on here often, but I read your great ideas and wanted to offer one thought of my own. As a kindergarten teacher (students aged 4-6), I''ve noticed that ''winning'' and ''losing'' don''t go over very well with my age group. If you''d like to have the drawing contest - the possible entries sound adorable - maybe everybody should get a prize? You could always have your junior bridesmaids come up with a category to describe each entry - most colorful, most sparkly, best use of stickers, etc. I know it sounds a little like t-ball, but you might not want any sore losers melting down and making you feel guilty after all the effort you''re putting into keeping them happy...

Take my advice with a grain of salt, of course. You know the kids coming to your wedding best!
Yes, this was what I thought (even though I don''t work with kids at all).
Apart from that one small thing, I think your ideas merry are fabulous, and I will be keeping them in mind for the future, thanks for posting!
 

lliang_chi

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Hi Merry,

I''m thinking of having crafts etc as well. Mostly coloring materials & stickers. We''ll have the kids in a room next door so I was going to put a DVD player with kid movies there.

I love your ideas.
 

merrymunky

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lliang - I LOVE that idea. We only have a small function room for hire so we will all be in one room together. I need to go visit again to get an idea of how we want to arrange the room for the afternoon and evening.

The landlady of the pub is really great and has said they will make sure that we can have whatever we want.

I just wish it was August already!!
 

Winks_Elf

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Sorry, but if the parents had half a brain they would not be taking the kids to an evening wedding! Nothing like a cranky, tired little one to spoil everyone''s fun.

That being said, I would suggest bringing the following: Play-dough, a few games and hire someone to entertain the kids. It really is the parents'' responsibility to bring things to entertain their own kids if they are bringing them, but if you hire someone to entertain them, it may be a little easier on everyone.
 

merrymunky

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I disagree. Five of them will be there for the wedding, reception and part of the evening do as three of them are my nieces and bridesmaids (2 aged 12 one aged 9), one of them is their brother who is also 9 and also my cousin's son (who will have travelled down from the other end of the country to attend) who is 9.

I specifically want them there. My nieces and nephew will probably only be staying till about 8.30 - 9pm latest. I want my evening guests to see my bridesmaids and I am sure they are old enough to not be cranky and bored. They will be too busy showing off their beautiful dresses to everyone!

At most there will only be four more children attending, just for the evening party (if the families can even attend). I can let the parents judge how long they attend for. They know their children and will not stay if they are getting too tired. Hence me wanting to arrange things for them to do for the very early part of the evening.

I can't afford to hire entertainment, especially if it is for less than 10 children. We are having a proper "credit crunch" wedding as it is. The function room is small too, there wouldn't be enough space to have an entertainer in a separate area.

I am more than happy to arrange activities myself and let the parents decide when to call it a night.

I think play-dough will be too messy, judging from the amount of times we have had it crushed into the carpets at school.
 

Italiahaircolor

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We actually rented a large suite for the children in attendance at our wedding, ordered tons of pizza and soda and sweets and rented them movies all while being supervised by three babysitters.

I didn''t want parents to feel like they had to watch their children...but I have many children in and around my family, so they would have to be invited.

We sent special invitations to the children exclusively inviting them to an pizza party....it made the kids feel special and included. We decked the room out in balloons and streamers, and left a decent little goody-bag for each child.

The kids had fun, and the parents actually got to enjoy themselves without stressing out over their child!
 

bee*

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That sounds like a fab idea merry. It will keep them very happy.
 

lovesparklies

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Date: 4/19/2009 10:18:05 PM
Author: EricaR
May I suggested duct tape, rope, and a closet?

Ohhhhhhhh! You were asking for ideas on how to keep them HAPPY! Not keep them out of the way...

LOL! Even though I''m inviting kids to my wedding and don''t mind [that much] if they run amok at the reception, this is very funny.

Interestingly, I took a poll of some of my friends who are bringing kids to my wedding asking if they would take advantage of a babysitter in a guest room at the hotel where the reception will be. They said no way would they leave their kids with a total stranger, even though the babysitter would''ve been a trustworthy adult and mother. So I''m just going to let the parents decide how to entertain their kids and if they have to leave early, well, that''s ok.

I do like these "entertainment table" ideas, though. Especially making your own goodie box.
 

Haven

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merry, I think it''s a fabulous idea.

We did something similar--I bought brightly colored plastic buckets from Michael''s and filled them stickers, a stamp set, crayons, fun Fourth of July headbands, foamy sunglasses and a foamy visor with little sticky-backed foamy cutouts, a book
, and other things I can''t remember any more. Our favors were Moleskine cahiers with the guests'' names calligraphied on the front, so they had the notebook to decorate.

Our caterer covered one table in a white paper tablecloth, and we put the buckets at seats around that table. I wrote the kids'' names on the buckets with a big permanent marker, and it was a DREAM! All of the parents thanked us repeatedly, and the buckets kept the kids busy for the entire time. The buckets were so bright and fun that the kids were naturally drawn to the table, anyway, and there wasn''t anything super messy so we didn''t have to worry about ruined dresses or suits.

We wanted to do the babysitter thing in a separate room, but the consensus was that people weren''t comfortable leaving their children with a strange babysitter.

I have to say that I think it is a lovely gesture to consider your tiny guests and to provide entertainment for them. While a prepared parent *should* bring things for their child to do during a party, a prepared hostess can easily make the kids feel welcome and a part of the party by making a small gesture like this.

We really wanted our wedding to be a family affair, so we never considered *not* inviting the kids. I think they were a lovely addition to the celebration.
 

House Cat

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I love what you''re doing for the children!

I will be having a child specific table too. The centerpiece will be a small galvanized bucket filled with candy shoppe lollypops and goodies. There will be other tiny buckets filled with fruit snacks, etc. I figured, they would probably fill up on cake..so there''s the sugar, they will probably not be worse off with the candy and it will make them feel special to have a table decorated for them. Plus, my 3 year old is insisting on the candy table and well, he''s pretty reluctant about this whole wedding, crowd, being the ring bearer thing in the first place, so I will give it to him.

I would put some willing party in charge of the games and have the various games come out in waves so that the kids aren''t bombarded all at once AND so that they don''t bore too quickly with what is there. It will give them something to look forward to for the entire time they are there.

The parents will love you for this.
 

Haven

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One thing I should add about the goodies for the kids:
I made sure to give each child his *own* set of goodies because I wanted to avoid any potential fights over things. I''ve taught every grade but second, and from kindergarten up through senior year of high school sharing isn''t always the easiest thing for them. Just a thought.
 

swingirl

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I love kids at weddings.

I would nix contests, too formal. I love the idea of a decorated box especially if you include black and white ribbons or lace scraps. And you are right, glue stix wash out. In garment construction glue stix are used for that very reason, they dissolve in the wash. Girls will probably love it, boys...not so much. But it at least keeps 50% of them busy.

Another thought, please don't expect a female teenage to take over the babysitting duties unless she really wants to. People always seemed to expect my teenage daughter to baby sit for everyone's little kids when ever there was a group of youngsters. She doesn't like kids but didn't know how to say no.
 

merrymunky

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Wow...you all have great ideas too.

I love the personalised buckets idea.

I will make sure that each child has their "own" stash for the evening too. I work with children myself. I''ve also worked with nursey right up to 16 year olds over my career and even the older ones find sharing difficult!
 
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