If the kids ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Have you ever been to an event that seemed to be going well, except for the incessant screaming from lil’ Tommy nearby? Kids can be a stressor or they can be blasts of amusing energy. The key: keeping the Tommy-kids happy and entertained so that everyone else can have a good time.
Sure, you could just force your event attendees to find babysitters. But maybe part of your event planning and management is making it a great place for family fun:
1. Let the freebies provide the fun. If other organizations are supporting your event, let them advertise by bringing handouts/toys for the kids. Frisbees are a wonderful idea: they are interactive, entertaining and, as long as they don’t hit grandpa in the head, they’re safe. Could just be me, but beach balls are fun for all ages. Buy some cheap beach balls for the kids (and adults?) to throw around. It will keep them entertained and it will be difficult for them to find ways to hurt their siblings with cheap pliable plastic.
2. For races of any sort: Cheering section. Buy some big cheap foam “#1” hands or some flags. Set up a table with some stickers and markers so kiddos can make a flag to cheer on their favorite grown-up. How sweet for a grown-up to cross the finish line with a little cheerleader waiting for them? For bike races, perhaps you set up a table where kids can decorate a cheap bike basket, horn or streamers.
3. Bounce house, anyone? Probably your only risk here is that two kids may bounce and clunk heads. Then again, isn’t it wonderful to say “Hey Johnny, why don’t you go bounce around with your friends for a while, blow off some energy?” Kids with clunked heads v. kids with too much energy? I’ll let you decide what’s worse.
4. Carnival games with cheap prizes. Plinko is my favorite. Everyone can win some sort of prize, so even the kids who never win games can win. Even if the prize is a bouncy ball or a piece of candy (no choking candy!), Plinko is a winner. A bean bag toss is also an all-time favorite. Then there’s “throw the football through the tire.” Any one or all of these are great ways to engage kids at large events, none requiring a huge setup.
5. If your event is outside, setup a Kids Fun Run. Kids love the opportunity to run and with the popularity of youth fitness initiatives like the NFL Play 60, show your support of health and fitness by setting up a fun run and giving the kids a participatory item. Maybe a simple medal, t-shirt or even just a race bib. It can be 1k, 1 Mile or even a 50-yard dash for the littlest ones. But this will burn up some energy, make the parents proud and give the kids a sense of accomplishment.
Whatever you do, remember your audience. And if you’re going to have events specifically for the kiddos, be sure to let your attendees know before your event so they can plan to have their kiddos there.
What ways have you found to help entertain children?