Tips for including kids at ceremonies

May 10, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

I have had the good fortune to be invited to quite a few weddings and graduations over the years – we all probably have.

Again this year some invitations have come in, but one was different. Engraved on the invitation was the phrase “Children over the age of 13 only, please.”

While that, to me, is a bit extreme, it does bring to mind one challenge – how can you keep your child from “stealing the show” at a graduation or wedding?

The first thing to keep in mind is, when is the event? A late day/evening event may call for a pre-event nap for your child. Even older children should be encouraged to relax during the day if possible so that their ornery side is less apt to come out.

Of course, having snacks is a no-brainer, but remember to have previously unwrapped or otherwise “soundproofed” the snacks so as to keep the noise level low at ceremonies. Clear drinks can help keep stains to a minimum.

Thankfully, receptions allow children to be a little more involved. Besides the typical coloring books and crayons, try some of these options:

• Have a scavenger hunt of sorts by having your child get the signature of five relatives (specify an uncle, a girl cousin, etc.).

• If your child has same-age relatives at the event, take a few minutes to introduce your child to some same-age youngsters that are there.

• Give your child something to look forward to. See if they can help carry presents to the car or help guests find their table at the reception.

• Let them play “photographer.” A disposable camera woks well for this, even if, or maybe especially if, the camera is out of exposures. If the flash works, they will use it.

• Make a point of requesting the good old “Hokey Pokey” or “YMCA” from the band or DJ.. Many times, the music provider is waiting for someone, anyone, to get on the dance floor and this can help the kids wear off their sugar rush from the cake.

• Have a list for “I Spy.” I spy: a cake, a white dress, a drink with bubbles, a balloon, etc.

Keeping your child occupied will help you, your child, and others enjoy the event and create memories – good ones, this time.