How to Host an After School Playdate

Parents - I know that we are all recouping from the holiday season. I know that my house is just now feeling back to normal with all the holiday decorations.  Many places around the globe have snow on the ground and we are beginning to get cabin fever.  Winter is a great time on the year to host an after school playdate for your kids and their friends. It can be a great pick-me-up to reconnect with friends while learning and having fun! Who says kids can only learn and have fun at school?   Yes, we know everyone is super busy, that is why if you have the opportunity to host - your friends parents will be oh so happy!!!

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Kim posted  about the activities at one of our after school express playdates, but I wanted to share with you how to host one! It really doesn't take much, just a few supplies and some space.  My house is small for a bunch of kids, so I like to host my playdates outside if the weather permits.  I like hosting themed playdates because that means there will not be a bunch of kids running wild with nothing to do.  If you are in the mood to host - here is one suggested way to plan and prepare for a playdate.

How to host a winter playdate:

Step 1: Decide on a theme.  Because my kids are getting SO excited for our upcoming trip to see snow, we decided on a snow theme.  Being in the south, we don't get a lot, so we must get creative!

Step 2: Pick a date and invite your friends. 6-8 kids is my favorite number.  This way, they can play and do the stations without it being overwhelming I always do this a couple weeks in advance.  Last minute playdates are ok, but not as many friends can usually make it. E-mails, E-vites, or texts are all efficient ways to invitte friends, but a phone call is a good way to keep mommy friendships strong AND get the word out.

Step 3: Choose your activities.  I like to look through our Pinterest Boards First for ideas.  Then I browse my recycle bin and my art closet and adjust the projects I WANT to do with the items I have on hand! I like to have 2 or 3 art projects and another 2 or 3 activities that are more for open ended playing. Some kids gravitate towards arts and crafts and others tend to prefer gross motor games or the imagination stations!

Step 4: Prepare the supplies.  I like to plan for the projects to take no more than 10 minutes for a playdate.  Although my kids can do most of the project independently, I try to make decisions on what to pre-cut or have pre-drawn so that all the kids coming to the playdate can successfully do to the project without much grown-up assistance. Because this playdate would be outside, I chose a little bit messier stations than I would have inside!  You can adjust based on where you host! I make sure the stations are ready to several hours before the playdate.  If you can, putting them together the night before while your kids are sleeping is much faster, at least for me!

I set each little station, or center up in its own area.  Art projects are most often set on the table.  I taught kindergarten and first grade for so many years that I knew I wanted to do some q-tip painting and crayon rubbing.  If you need ideas, stop by our Winter Pinterest Boards for some inspiration.  Here is how my paint station looked.  The kids knew just what to do when they saw it.   The only thing I didn't have pictured was the glue (which I had to run and find) and the box of wet-wipes for painted fingers!

snow globe painting

Materials Needed
Then, I also set up a snow station outside, making sure to put real measuring spoons and cups for a chance to interact and measure using standard measurements.  If I had real snow, I would have just brought my sand table inside with the snow inside so the kids could play with it in the comfort of their own home!

This Insta-Snow is an awesome polymer that expands with water (see I can also sneak in some more measurement with the kids!) It does get a little messy and is hard to sweep up, so I have learned to put this station outside or in a place that I don't mind getting a wee bit messy.

fake snow

I set up the rubbing plates station similar to the paint station with all that is pictured below. Just make sure that the table you use is flat.  I also encouraged the kids to use both sides of the paper.

kid craft

Depending on your kids and their friends, you may want to set up a snack station.  Allergies are always my first concern and I've found that popcorn is always a hit - although very messy!  A permanent marker is a great way for kids to label their own bags and drinks so that they know whose it whose!  We usually don't use one-time use cups, but it makes clean up SOOO much easier and faster for me.

healthy snacks for kids

Step 5.  HAVE FUN!!!  What is great about hosting afterschool playdates is that the kids are excited to have fun and learn with their friends.  They are also at an age they can play independently and solve problems with their words. 

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Deb Chitwood said...

I LOVE your ideas for hosting an afterschool playdate! So organized and educational, yet lots of fun! I pinned your post to my Fostering Kids' Friendships Board at

Debbie @ said...

Thanks for hosting! It is appreciated!!

Debbie @ said...

Sorry! After I posted my link, I saw the age group that you are wanting, but I can't see where to delete the link. Please delete if for me if you want to. (#4)

Lovingmama said...

Thanks Deb! The kids really ejoyed it too =) I appreciate your sharing =)

PragmaticMom said...

Looks like a fun play date if you live where it's warm during the winter! Brrrr! This would be fun to do indoors for us with snow on the ground!

Lovingmama said...


Emma @mummymummymum said...

I love the paint station! What a great idea.

Rachael Rabbit said...

Your amazing - 6-8 kids at a playdate ... my nerves would be fried! I am so investing in a vat of insta snow!

Raising a Happy Child said...

6-8 kids? I admire your spirit! Since my daughter is in afterschool program 3 times a week already, I really prefer 1:1 playdates for her, so she can connect better to her favorite friends. No prep nowadays - I just let them decide what they want to do and provide materials if they ask for it.

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