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© Alena Ozerova -

If you have a toddler, you know how difficult the winter months can be. They aren’t in school yet and it’s too cold to go to the park, so finding ways to entertain them every day can be quite a chore.

The thought of hosting a playdate in the middle of winter when you can’t let the kiddies run around in the backyard is also less than appealing. But never fear, I’ve got a few easy guidelines to having a playdate both you and your toddler will thoroughly enjoy.

  1. Invite only how many your house can handle. Do you have a huge finished basement filled with toys? Great, have a half dozen kids over. Are you working with a smaller space? Limit yourself to two or three kids (and their moms).
  2. Timing is everything. If the tots you are inviting over are all on the same nap schedule, you should be able to pick a two-hour window of time right after or before nap time. Remember, pick a time that works for the kids—the last thing you want is a house full of cranky toddlers.
  3. Have snacks. Check with parents about food allergies beforehand, and then set out a plate of healthy snacks like cheese, fruit and crackers. If it’s a holiday or someone’s birthday, make a plate of cookies, too. Don’t forget to have a few adult-friendly snacks as well. No need to go overboard, just a few little munchies to keep everyone happy. A pitcher of cold water with lemon slices can be used to fill up sippy cups and adult glasses.
  4. Set up a play land. Gather your toddler’s toys and set up a few play stations in child-proofed areas where you will be sitting. A toddler’s attention span is short, so know they’ll be bopping from one toy to the next—they’ll need plenty of options.
  5. Make the adults comfortable. Don’t have enough chairs for everyone? No big deal. Throw a few pillows on the floor and let everyone know they can plop anywhere. Chances are, nobody will be sitting for long anyway with all those toddlers to chase around.