In your quest for the perfect cake, menu, playlist and lighting, it’s easy to forget who will actually be enjoying your special day with you. As well as that long lost great aunt and your old uncle Bill, there’s likely to be a whole other section of the guest list coming along to celebrate. It’s a section that is often over-looked but has the potential to get very upset if not considered. No, we’re not talking in-laws or bridesmaids here, we’re talking… children!
With just a little thought and planning, you can help the youngsters on your guest list enjoy the day just as much as the adults. In fact, many parents will tell you that making the kids happy will guarantee a day of smiles for mum and dad. It’s simple: happy kids = happy parents = happy wedding day.
Incorporating children’s activities into your overall wedding design doesn’t have to mean letting go of the style. Drawing on nature and imaginative sensory ideas as inspiration, you can put together a selection of fun activities that will keep kids happy and occupied, creating and playing with beautiful things that complement your wedding atmosphere.
Maggy Woodley is a mum of two and writes at the award-winning Red Ted Art, an inspirational children’s craft blog. Maggy’s ideas were turned into a best-selling book earlier this year – Red Ted Art – Cute and Easy Crafts for Kids– which has proved so popular it’s now being sold in Australia as well as the UK.
At Tigerlily Weddings, we thrive on the imaginative, creative and beautiful, so it was an easy decision to ask Maggy to help us come up with some gorgeous kids play ideas for weddings. “We all know how easily kids get bored,” says Maggy. “When you’re a parent at a wedding, it inevitably means you’re ‘on duty’, trying to stop your children running amok or causing raised eyebrows among the other guests. Having some activities organised will mean the parents can relax a little and know the kids are having fun too.”
When picking your activities, Maggy recommends choosing ideas that don’t require much supervision. “Things should be ‘hands off’, safe and – ideally – not messy,” says Maggy. “Most kids will be in their Sunday best, so parents won’t thank you for tempting them with a lot of messy play activities!”
Another key idea is to make all activities ones that can be done at the table, during speeches or after people have finished eating. That way, the children will be occupied during the part of the day they may find the least entertaining. For example, you could create a competition, with the bride choosing her favourite creations at the end of the meal.
“It’s also helpful to have a few ready-made samples of your activities,” explains Maggy. “This means children will be able to see what they’re making – but be sure to leave kids lots of creative freedom by adding extra bits and pieces and putting their own unique twist on their design.”
Other elements to consider when planning your kids’ activities are the ages and genders of the children, as this may have an effect on the types of interests they have. “At my wedding, we had a pack of trump cards for the older children at their place setting and some fuzzy felt activities for the younger children,” says Maggy. “However, it can become expensive if you’re planning to buy separate gifts for all the children. An alternative to this could be to set up an arts and crafts station instead.”
Now you’ve taken the time to consider who your activities are for, it’s worth investing in a few tried and tested materials to keep the children happy. Here’s Maggy’s list of “go to” materials that will always inspire little ones to create something beautiful:
- Plain paper
- Colouring pages (there’s an opportunity here to use images that complement your overall wedding design – for example, retro postcards or black and white shots that kids than colour in)
- Wooden clothes pegs
- A small amount of good PVA glue
- Googly eyes
- Fabric scraps (again, the colours of the fabric could be picked from your own wedding colour palette)
- Beads and string
- Cheap & chic, plain photo frames
- Leaves and small sticks
- Pipe cleaners
Maggy has put her wonderfully creative mind to the task of coming up with some great art and craft kids’ play ideas that would also be wedding-friendly. These are all activities that could be offered to the children in a little parcel, by their place name, or at a separate craft station somewhere in the venue.
Decorated wedding frames
Give each child a plain photo frame, along with a small amount of PVA glue, some glitter, fabric scraps and buttons. Encourage them to decorate the frame, which can then be used to display photographs from the wedding day.
Give each child a couple of short sticks and ask them to create their own “Stick Men”. With a pair of googly eyes and some fabric scraps and PVA glue, they will be able to make their own stick masterpieces.
Traditional wooden “dolly pegs” are a fantastic resource for kids craft and would perfectly suit a retro-themed wedding. With some pens, fabric scraps and buttons, children can create fairies, mermaids – or even a bride and groom!
This is a really simple activity for slightly older children. Simply encourage them to twist their pipe cleaner into a shape (perhaps a heart?) and then attach by twisting around the top of your pencil. You could make it even more special by giving the children a few beads to thread through the pipe cleaner, and there is you’re very own pencil topper.
Children’s friendship jewellery
This is a really simple and mess-free activity for older children. Give each child a purse or small parcel with a selection of threads and beads inside. They can twine the thread, plait it, add beads and create their own beautiful friendship jewellery to have as a keepsake from your special day.
A particularly fitting activity for a woodland themed wedding or a celebration at autumn, leaf collages can be as simple or as intricate as the child likes. Offer a selection of dried leaves and petals, along with some good PVA glue (a better quality glue will dry more quickly) and paper. Let the children create their own works of art with the materials provided – for added sparkle, give each child a thimble of glitter to sprinkle liberally around their finished piece of art.
The main thing to remember when organising any child’s activity, is to inspire them with the ingredients to let their own creativity run wild. With just a little thought and preparation, you’ll be impressed at how busy, happy and occupied the children on your guest list will be.
Words By Molly Forbes Tigerlily