Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas special #2: The Kiddie Table

A Tweet alerted me to the fact that I didn't say anything in Festive post #1, Hosting the Day, about kiddie tables.

"It's like being in the monkey cage at a zoo," said the Tweeter. "What does everyone else do?"

Well, in amongst the hilarious suggestions of handcuffs and gaffer tape, emerged some pretty good advice.

So here goes:

1 Cover the kiddie table with white paper tablecloths, paper plates and cups and supply crayons. Encourage drawing on the tablecloth.

2 Purchase a lot of heavy-duty baby wipes

3 Supply breadsticks and small snacks to stifle howling and tantrums if lunch starts looking delayed. I'm told pink lemonade is also popular.

4 Offer a prize for the best Christmas-themed tabletop drawing.

5 Supply ketchup (although specify this is not to be used as a artistic medium).

6 Heavily bribe a teenager to sit at the kiddie table and keep reasonable order. £20 ought to do it. If there are no teens, take eldest child at the table aside and tell them that you are relying on them to be in charge. I'm assured that this works even if they are only 4 or usually behave like the antichrist.

7 When tempers are fraying and any food that's going to be consumed has been consumed and the rest is going on the floor, accept that no amount of threats are going to keep them still and quiet and that it's time to:

- Bribe same teenager or a different one to take children outside for 1 hour if there is a park nearby

- Or if putting shoes and coats etc on too much hassle, or there is no teenager available, announce a showing of a pre-selected Christmas film and add that there will be sweets supplied (tiny bratlings, I'm told, aren't interested in Christmas pudding).


  1. This is really good advice, having two kids and many nieces and nephews, my goal is get them to stay at the table just long enough to have eaten a bit of something, bearing in mind they have probably been eating all day anyway, and just let them go and watch a Christmas movie and play with much longed for toys. No good will come of making them stay at the table to make conversation and be polite.

  2. Thanks Est - are you Esther too? I don't really know anything about children... yet... so this is just a collaborative effort. I'm glad some of it rings helpful though.


  3. I would not have sat at a table with howling babies and paper plates on Christmas Day as a teenager for £20. £200 and 40 Marlboro Menthols, maaaaaybe. Actually still no.

  4. Hi yes I am an Esther. Like I said it is really good advice, I have a relative who always makes her kids stay to the bitter end and it is painful.

  5. I would also suggest that you never at any time forcibly demote the teenager to the child's table for babysitting duty. A friend of my parent's once told me I would be sitting at the children's table so I could make sure everyone behaved and didn't disturb the grown-ups. A job I would have been fine with if asked, but was highly offended to be assigned without consultation. Running into that woman still causes angsty, teenage loathing in my soul.

  6. Thank you for this vital point of etiquette. Teens must of course never be forced into kiddie duty. They must be offered cold cash, nothing less, and refusals ought to be taken graciously.