Successful multi-generation parties are not easy to pull off. Getting everyone engaged can be tricky when different age groups have a different idea of fun. These tips will help you throw the multi-generation party of a lifetime.
Venue Is Everything
One of the most important features of successful multi-generation parties is that guests of all ages can leave when they want to. Bussing your guests out to a secluded location for a party that goes on late into the night might be an amazing idea for you and your friends. However, this may not appeal to young parents, who need to put their children to bed, or much older guests, who perhaps aren’t up for a late night. Either choose a venue that is in a central location with frequent public transport links and plenty of parking, or opt for a location where everyone can stay the night. If people feel free to wander off to their rooms and go to sleep whenever they like, they are more likely to relax into the party, rather than worry about staying up late.
Often what is intended as a multi-generation party does not turn out that way because either people leave their children at home, or the older generation decides not to come, feeling that it won’t make much difference. One of the main reasons for this is the sense that the party is not really for them, and they will just be in the way. Sending out invitations signals to your guests that their presence is important to you. Sending invitations helps with multi-generation parties because every generation starts out reassured that they are an important part of the celebration. Invitations also encourage commitment ahead of time, so you’re more likely to get everyone together. Invitations needn’t be the same for all ages. While older guests may get a kick out of having a paper invitation to pin to the fridge, younger people are harder to reach by post—you may not even have their addresses. Feel free to send paperless post invitations to the younger crowd. (You’ll also get brownie points for being eco-friendly!)
Entertainment is one of the trickiest aspects of a multi-generation party, but if you can nail the entertainment side of things, your party is almost guaranteed to be a success. The key to success is choosing several smaller kinds of entertainment, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. Providing smaller entertainment options at different times during the party means everyone gets something special. Kids are the easiest customers. Balloon sculpting, jumping castles and magicians are always a hit. Millennials love a photo booth, and you can’t beat jazz standards for the golden oldies. Outdoor games tend to appeal to all generations. Everything from croquet to catch will get young and old out in the sunshine and playing together.
Skip The Band and Hire a Good DJ
Of course, it would be amazing to hire a band to perform songs that everybody likes, but realistically, that band may not exist. (Unless there’s a band out there that plays ‘Row-row-row Your Boat’, Beyonce and Elvis’s greatest hits.) That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have music, of course. A skilled DJ will be able to strike a balance and keep everyone happy.
Designated Child Zone
Children bring so much fun and life to a party, but they won’t be able to join in for the whole thing. They have their own energy rhythms, and sometimes they just need to relax or take a nap. It’s great if they can retreat to somewhere more kid-friendly when they need a break from all the activity. Offering some form of childcare at the party is a great way to encourage all generations to relax and chill. An adjacent room with movies and toys, overseen by a trusted child supervisor, is a young parent’s dream. Parents will appreciate the chance to let their hair down, knowing their children are safe and entertained, and the kids will enjoy the freedom to leave the party for a while and hang out with other children without their parents hovering.
Catering can be a little intimidating when you have several generations to think of. Children often require plain food, and dishes that aren’t spicy or even hot from the oven. Kids also tend to get hungry earlier than adults and may want to eat more than once. The older generation might have fairly conventional tastes (meat and two veg, please!) and expect a regular dinnertime, while the younger generation might be more excited by trendier foods. They’re also much more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, as well as gluten intolerant.
The buffet is your best friend when it comes to catering for a multi-generation party. While you can’t serve a three-course meal that suits everyone down to a T, you can offer a buffet that has something special for every generation. Keep the food as simple as possible. Providing options such as fruit, salads and bread for everyone means you can pick a couple of showstoppers that will appeal to each generation in turn. For example, you could serve pizzas to appeal to the kids, coronation chicken for the older folks, and a cracking quinoa and tofu dish to wow the younger crowd. Another great feature of the buffet for a multi-generation event is that you don’t have to specify a time for the meal. Food can stay out for a while (taking food-safety into consideration, of course) and you can always refresh platters at a later hour. Children can get stuck in as soon as the food has been laid out and come back for more later on. Adults can eat whenever hunger strikes. You can also bring the food out in stages, as people of different ages start to feel peckish.
Whether you’re celebrating a milestone birthday or renewing your vows, there’s nothing like a multi-generation party to mark an occasion. These tips will help you plan a party to remember for the whole gang.