Brunch me. Difficulty level: ankle biters.
July 2, 2016 1:11 AM   Subscribe

I've recently moved to a new city. I've met a few cool people that I'd like to make friends with, and I'd love to invite them round for brunch. The only problem is, since the last time I was doing this, I've reached an age where most people have kids. I'm totally happy to have the kids around but I don't know how to do it?! - what food for them, but also how to keep them entertained while the adults chat.

There's enough space in the sitting/dining room for the kids to have their own space while we sit round the table - when I imagine the scene the kids are sitting there playing with.... what? Bonus points for stuff which can be played with, without close supervision, and won't make a huge mess. Is this even possible? Thanks!

I think the age range of the kids goes from 5-11.
posted by ontheradio to Human Relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
For food, some of the kids will probably eat whatever the adults are having, for the others you should be covered with some fresh fruits, sliced cheeses, and toast or bagels. The age range is pretty big; maybe you can ask in advance if a movie is okay? Otherwise Lego is a pleaser across a wide range of ages. This may not meet your no-mess request, though, depending on how you define that. You could also have a variety of kids books handy.
posted by JenMarie at 2:13 AM on July 2, 2016

If you own a gaming console, maybe invest in a couple of kid-friendly games with a multiplayer mode? LEGO's Star Wars and/or Marvel games go over well with elementary-school-aged children.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 2:39 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Most of our friends don't have kids, we just bring our own kid entertainment and kid food with us. It's nice when people have some crayons and paper available, but I don't expect anyone without kids to have anything on hand. If you really want to impress, I agree that some Legos and video games would be a hit. They'll probably come prepared with something to do.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:55 AM on July 2, 2016

Do you have a house or an apartment with common areas? If the weather is nice, think about some place they could play outside within sight or earshot of the adults. Maybe get a soccer ball or frisbee or two.
posted by whitewall at 4:16 AM on July 2, 2016

we have this "problem". all we do is make sure there's nothing very breakable lying around and ask if they need anything. parents (or i guess the kids themselves) seem to know what to bring to keep them quiet. over time we've got a few stuffed toys and games, but really we can't compete with the average well-stocked middle class child's bedroom and i don't think anyone expects you to.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:52 AM on July 2, 2016

Crayons and paper for littles, bin of random Lego for bigger. Ages five to 11 they're just eating people food but it is nice to have a little backup of snacky things you'd eat (so they don't sit forever) that could fill in a picky eater's dinner without extra cooking ... crackers, string cheese, apples, fishie crackers. Nice to have "special" drinks on hand for them if the parents are having alcohol especially, which Sprite or similar is fine, or juice boxes, or sparkling grape juice for fun.

One of my parents' childless friends used to always get us Baskin Robbins clown cones when we visited her and you better believe we ate whatever she cooked, played nicely with no mess, obeyed really pretty strict rules as her house was not very kid friendly ... and thought she was a magical fun fairy godmother of a person because it always ended in clown cones. That I remember fondly 30+ years later!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:54 AM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

Kids are all individuals so most parents bring stuff (both food and entertainment) along to functions where they judge they might be necessary. Some kids are ultra uktra picky, some aren't (apparently my boss's preschoolers love szechuan?!), some kids are good at entertaining themselves and some aren't, and young kids often have favorite toys of their own and won't really play with anything else. I think it's more important to kid-proof your house, and (especially if babies or toddlers are in the mix) set up the event so it's not expected that everyone sit down and eat at the exact same time. Buffet rather than multi course sit down. That way when parents have to get up to tend to their children (which is inevitable), it doesn't disrupt the whole meal.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:08 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have friends with children over for brunch, mostly younger than your set (1-6 years). Mostly the kids have already eaten by the time they come over, but I put out some food that they can eat straight away, like fruit (don't make fruit salad, there will be grumbles about how the strawberries are mixed in with yucky fruit!), yogurt, cheese and crackers, juice boxes. Some of them will eat a second breakfast, so I make enough for them to eat the main brunch too.

I try to slightly kidproof the place but there is always something I didn't anticipate or just didn't think of as a non-parent. I have a small apartment with not much room for a children's activity area, so usually we try and encourage the kids to explore the deck/balcony for a bit and I also set up the tv in my bedroom so they can watch a kids channel for a bit.

My last brunch had four children under 6 and seven adults in a one bedroom apartment, so it is totally doable.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:06 AM on July 2, 2016

Here's how it works around here:

You may want to say to the parents - I don't have much/any kid stuff so while they are welcome to watch tv, please feel free to bring a few things.

Food Timing - I find it nicer to have the kids get their food and go into the other room first, check and see if they need anything and once they are all set, the adults can more leisurely get their own food.

Paper plates and small 8 ounce water bottles for the kids.

Food - peanut butter and jelly bar? 2 types bread - white, whole wheat, peanut butter, maybe Nutella or almond butter, grape and strawberry jelly, bacon? Marshmallow fluff probably would be a hit. Most kids will eat a peanut butter sandwich. Grapes are easy and not messy. Some of the kids will eat whatever the adults are eating. (Check for severe peanut or treenut allergies of course.)

Dessert - I agree that it would be a hit to pull out some cookies or frozen treats after every one is done eating. Check with parents first - is it okay if they have ice cream bars?
posted by RoadScholar at 6:31 AM on July 2, 2016

When I've done this, we did it buffet-style and didn't sit at the table, so everyone just sort of hung out together. The only explicitly kid-focused thing was reading books. This is my preferred mode so I can interact with my friends' kids without expecting them to sit quietly at a table.
posted by mchorn at 6:46 AM on July 2, 2016

If the parents won't have a cow (and depending on allergies), including a box of doughnuts or doughnut holes as a kid option will be a fun treat and labor saving for you. (We knew this was for special occasions, and not something we ate regularly; our parents tolerated it, and it was counterbalanced by fruit offerings, string cheese and such.)
posted by gudrun at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2016

I think a pad of drawing paper and a box or two of crayons is a nice gesture. You could give the younger kids a drawing prompt like, "Draw your favorite breakfast food!" or "look, my fridge doesn't have any drawings on it!"
I know you're joking around, but don't refer to them in person as ankle-biters. Isn't that an expression for tiny toddlers or dogs? I don't know, but it sounds like the kids in question are well into "people capable of playing or chatting" ages.
posted by areaperson at 7:45 AM on July 2, 2016

Let them order pizza! Allowing them to choose the toppings and then wait for the delivery will eat up a good bit of time. While they are waiting, stick them in front of a television. If you buy juice boxes for them to drink, you don't have to worry about spilled cups.
posted by myselfasme at 3:10 PM on July 2, 2016

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