How to Host a Messy Play Date Without Losing Your Mind

When the big kids are back in school, host a MESSY good time for your little ones still at home!

how to host a messy playdate

Forty kids younger than the age of  eight + exploding paint, shaving cream, body art, edible art and more ÷  SUPER brave mommas = ONE MESSY PLAYDATE!

While I’m a pretty type-A mom who doesn’t normally embrace chaos and mess, once a year I take a deep breath, give my OCD the day off and host a messy playdate. Here are some tips for a successful mess without totally losing your mind. Before we dive into the how-to part, let’s go over some ground rules:

Be prepared

Have everyone bring sunscreen, wear swimsuits and bring towels and a change of clothes. You will not want them getting into your car after this morning of fun. Also have a hose available and a kiddie pool of clean water.

Be Uber-Oranized

I typically have all of my stations, supplies and instructions planned and printed out ahead of time. I have a parent assigned to each station with written instructions on what the kids are supposed to do. This helps the day to move smoothly and ensures that little Billy will save some body paint for the other kids.

how to host a messy playdate
© J. Gebbink | Little Lake | 2015

How to Pull It Off

We start the morning with some sensory bins for the kids to play with while they wait for everyone to arrive. This might be sand or water beads water beads or polymer snow . (Tip from the trenches: cooked spaghetti was NOT a good idea). Once everyone has arrived, we play a couple group relay games such a  cheese poofs on the head relay or a water balloon toss.

host a messy playdate
© J. Gebbink | Little Lake | 2015

Once the games are finished we divide up into 6-8 messy art stations staffed by willing moms. The kids change stations whenever they are tired of an activity; make sure to never force a kid to try something if they aren’t comfortable getting gooey. Growing a Jeweled Rose has some incredible ideas. Some of our favorite activities are exploding paintfizzing sidewalk paint, ice paint and paint filled eggs.

how to host a messy playdate
© J. Gebbink | Little Lake | 2015

The grand finale is always a shaving cream slip n slide. Every child brings a can of shaving cream (along with $5 per family to cover supply costs). All the moms cover the slide with foamy white goodness and the kids have a sudsy blast!

how to host a messy playdate
© J. Gebbink | Little Lake | 2015

We end the morning with a backyard picnic followed with a visit by the ice cream truck. If your house is on their route, they are happy to make house calls on demand!

how to host a messy playdate
© J. Gebbink | Little Lake | 2015

Be flexible

As long as you use washable products and stay outside, there isn’t anything a little soap and a power washer can’t get help. Super thanks to my neighbor for helping me scrape mushed spaghetti noodles off of my driveway last year. Again, not recommended! Also, exploding mud was a flop.

Your MPD can be as big or a little as you’d like it to be. What started out for me as an art day at a neighborhood park has now exploded (literally) into a circus of messy success that my kids and all the neighbors will remember for years to come. Not only is it a chance for kids to have permission to express themselves and be a mess, but comfort zones are pushed and friendships are made all in the name of fun!



Dance academy of Libertyville
About Jessica Gebbink 56 Articles
Jessica is a mom of 3 girls from Spring Grove, IL. Next to her relationship with the Lord, her other passions include cooking, playing the violin, photography, and helping other moms to realize their true potential.

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