My Best Parenting Advice: 15 Tips For Planning A Fun Play-Date by Blythe Lipman

Dear Blythe,

I’m getting a little nervous because it’s our turn to have a play-date at our house.

Are there any rules or special things I need to know to make it a  fun success?

Thanks in advance for your help.


Mary Beth Sherman

Dear Mary Beth,

Thanks so much for your email. Play-dates can be so much fun!! There is nothing better than being with friends no j0202010matter how old you are. Playing, laughing, sharing or just being next to each other is what life is all about! And with some careful planning you and your child can arrange a fun play-date!”

Here are fifteen tips to keep everyone happy!


  1. Unless the parents are going to stay, don’t invite too many children to your play-date. You want it to be manageable and fun.
  1. If you are going to serve a snack or meal, you MUST ask if the child has any food allergies. If he has more than one, ask mom to e-mail you a list of foods that are off limits before the play-date.
  1. If your child is three or older, ask him if there are any special toys that he doesn’t want his friends to touch and put them away. Broken toys and meltdowns are not fun!
  1. Plan to keep the play-date short and sweet. One to two hours should be perfect.
  1. Don’t plan a play-date when you know your child will be hungry or tired.
  1. Put out a small number of carefully selected toys. Too many toys and games can create total chaos.


  1. If your child is a young baby and having a guest, spread out a blanket, lay the babies next to each other and watch what happens. You will hear lots of cooing and see lots of touching. You can also lay them both in front of the mirror. These are perfect Kodak moments!
  1. Until toddlers are about 3 ½ years old, there is parallel play. While it sometimes looks like they are not playing together but next to each other, they are having fun. Don’t try to force organized play, as parallel play is perfect for this age of development.
  1. Sharing is not always easy for little ones. A small kitchen timer is a must. Let each child set the timer for five minutes to play with that popular toy. When the bell rings, it’s time to take turns.
  1. Having a dress-up corner can be so much fun! There are no limits to a child’s imagination.
  1. Non-verbal games such as Candy Land and The Memory Game can be great fun as well as learning tools. You can sweeten the pot by having a small prize for the winner.
  1. Homemade play-dough, outside chalk, jumbo crayons and paper are fun while working on small motor skills.
  1. Don’t forget about music; freeze dance and musical chairs are the best!
  1. It’s nice to break up the play-date with a snack-time and also helps children settle down for a few minutes.  Choose a healthy snack. Fruit or vegetable slices served with a yogurt dip are great choices.
  1. When the play-date is coming to an end, set the timer and ask the children to clean up before the bell rings.

Remember, Mary Beth, the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a play-date, “ nothing is perfect.” Don’t stress and don’t over-plan. Sometimes the best-laid plans can change in the blink of an eye. Outside   You don’t have to provide entertainment for every second. Play-dates are about fun no matter what activities are available. Just enjoy watching your child nurture friendships that can last a lifetime.


My Best Parenting Advice: 15 Tips For Planning A Fun Play-Date by Blythe Lipman