15 Playdate Ideas That Are Fun for Kids and Parents 

These playdate ideas for toddlers and young kids are full of fun for everyone.

Published January 18, 2023
Toddlers Playing with Toys

Playdates are an amazing opportunity for your kids to socialize, practice sharing, and of course, have fun! In order to get the most out of these gatherings, it's important for parents to plan engaging activities that will keep their kid's attention and foster learning at the same time. This ensures an exciting interaction, as well as a tuckered out toddler or child. Try one of these playdate ideas that parents and kids can both enjoy!

Make Your Playdate an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

For your little explorers, a scavenger hunt is a fantastic way to facilitate movement, build vocabulary, and stimulate their inquisitive nature. Best of all, the preparation for this adventure is easy. Simply create a scavenger hunt printout by listing items they may find in your backyard. These can include leaves, flowers, acorns, a wheelbarrow, different holiday decor, or anything else that may be out in the yard. Then, let the hunt begin! For a bonus, offer a little reward if they can find all the items on the list. Parents will love getting to sit back in the patio while their little ones explore and have fun.

Try At-Home Bowling

If you're looking for an easy indoor activity, bowling is a smashing good time. This allows toddlers or young children to work on their hand-eye coordination and it gets them moving. This means a nice naptime is in your future! While heading to the bowling alley is always an option for any age (even little kids can take part with the bowling bumpers up) you can DIY your bowling pins with empty soda or water bottles and then grab one of the many balls that you have lying around. Fill the bottles part way up with water or sand, or weigh the bottoms down with coins or a few small toys. Test your pins with the intended balls first to make sure the balls you use will actually knock the pins over.

For the bowling enthusiasts, you can also purchase two Melissa & Doug Bowling Playsets. Your toddlers will love the colors and whimsical characters! No matter what, your kids will get to knock things down. Essentially, it's a toddler's or little kid's dream activity. Parents can join in with the kids or sit back and chat while the little ones have fun.

Host a Tea Party

Girls playing dress-up at tea party

Playing pretend has the potential to entertain your kids and their friends for hours! It also helps to facilitate speech. Fisher Price has an adorable tea set that not only lights up, but it plays songs too. However, you can also just grab plastic cups and pitchers that you have in the kitchen.

Make it fun by using cute trays or display dishes and serve up kid-friendly snack options like mini muffins and bite-size pieces of fruit. Invite kids to bring a favorite stuffed animal if they wish. Add in some fun costumes and your toddlers will be playing and working on their manners at the same time.

Create Some Ice-Age Archeologist Fun

This is a simple outdoor sensory activity that can keep your kids entertained for hours. Just grab a large tupperware bin that can fit in your freezer and fill it up halfway with water. Then, place a few small toys throughout the container. Let it freeze overnight and then repeat the process a second time so that the container has two layers of toys. Next, grab your turkey baster, medicine syringes, wooden spoons, kosher salt, and a plastic bowl filled with water. Voila! Your tots can chisel away at the ice or slowly melt it in order to find the treasure inside.

For those who want to add a little extra flare and mystery, add food coloring to the water and metallic plastic confetti pieces. You can also make multiple frozen blocks so that every kid gets their own project to work on. Again, parents will love getting time to socialize in the sunshine while their kids work away at finding the hidden treasure.

Set Up Some Water-Filled Excitement

Splishing and splashing is a water baby's dream! This makes water tables and outdoor splash pads great options for the spring, summer, and early fall months. You can easily set these up in the backyard ten minutes before everyone arrives and they can provide your kids with lots of sensory fun. Don't forget to provide lots of cups, buckets, and other items that they can fill up! Just remember to tell the other parents their kids will need swimsuits, towels, and sunscreen applied before they arrive.

Build a Fort for an Active Playdate

Kids love spaces that are designed for someone their size! Building forts can be a wonderful toddler playdate idea that will help their imagination take over. You can either tear apart your sofa and bed to provide them with pillows and blankets or you can craft them a castle with old moving boxes. PVC pipes and blankets are another great choice. Don't forget about props! This can help them to fully engage in imaginative play.

Movie and Make-Your-Own Snack Fun

Siblings watching a home movie while eating popcorn

Movie playdates can be an excellent option for kids and adults alike. Pick out two movie options for the kids to choose from and then lay out a fantastic spread of snacks. Popcorn and candy are always a fan favorite at the theater, so why not let your little ones customize their treat bowl? In order to make sure that they don't overindulge, give them guidelines and provide small scoops for each candy choice. For instance, you get one bowl of popcorn and two scoops of the candy of your choosing. Then, pull out the bean bags and blankets and relax with your kids.

Celebrate the Day Playdate Idea

One of the best parts of the holidays is getting to partake in time-honored traditions. These activities can include making gingerbread houses, going for an Easter egg hunt, painting pumpkins, or creating fireworks in a jar.

However, these aren't the only times of the year to celebrate! From National Dress Up Your Pet Day to National Cookie Day, there's something to celebrate 365 days a year. For the parents looking for fun playdate ideas, look up the festivity of the day to find the theme for your next get together. This can be fun for the parents and kids because you get to explore new pastimes and expand your child's horizons.

Play Giant Games

Everyone knows that bigger is better. Games like Yahtzee and Connect Four are fun options for people of all ages, and they come is extra large sizes that add to the novelty of the traditional games. However, if you're looking to save a buck or two, Amazon has affordable giant foam dice that are perfect for a host of backyard dice games. There are also lots of supersize games crafty parents can DIY like Connect Four and Cornhole boards. For playdates that include the parents, this can be a fantastic option that will get everyone excited to play.

Show Off Your Inner Picasso

Let your kid's creative juices flow by setting up a craft table outside. For those younger tots who can never seem to keep their hands out of their mouths, you can mix plain yogurt, flour, and Kool-Aid packets to make edible paint. For older kids, head out to a paint your own pottery or paint and sip art studio for some more creative fun. Best of all, this keeps the mess out of your house and most adults end up joining in on the fun.

Helpful Hack

To limit your clean-up with crafty playdates, invest in butcher paper and put it on the table's surface and on the floor. You can keep it in place with masking tape and then peel it away when you are done. Also, grab a pack of plain white adult shirts at Walmart or Hobby Lobby. These can serve as your kid's smocks and make sure they stay clean throughout the artistic process.

Explore Your Community

For the families looking to venture outside of the home, consider visiting a local museum, park, zoo, or aquarium. Trampoline parks, arboretums, a local farmer's market, the county fair, and even community farms can be wonderful places to plan a playdate where kids can explore and learn at the same time. It also gives you and your kids an excuse to get out of the house and try out attractions that you never seem to have time to check out! When you turn it into a playdate, kids can explore something new together and parents have plenty to enjoy too.

Try Playdate Ideas That Arrive on Your Doorstep

For the parents looking for a little more inspiration, or are pressed for time, consider signing up for kid's subscription boxes. Brands like Lovevery and Little Passports have amazing toy, craft, and activity options for an array of ages. These packages come right to your doorstep throughout the year, giving you new and exciting things to try, and they're always a great way to spice up a playdate.

Playdate Lunch Ideas

If you intend to have your playdate over the lunch hour, then why not combine the two activities? Young kids love to help and these simple meals are completely customizable.

Pizza Party

Cheerful Young Girl Holding A Slice Of Pizza

All you need is pre-made crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings. Lay everything out in advance and then let the kids create their culinary concoctions!

Pancake or Waffle Bar

Everyone loves breakfast for dinner, so why not make it for lunch? A protein pancake mix like Kodiak Power Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix is a great choice that will fill the kids up and it requires minimal ingredients. In fact, you just need water, oil, and the mix. This means that the kids can actually combine the ingredients themselves! Once the waffles are golden brown, you can let your kids apply their toppings. Fresh fruit, jams, syrup, peanut butter, or whipped cream are all good choices.

Toddler Charcutterie Board

All kids love finger foods! This is a great option for both picky eaters and the kids who want to try a little of everything. Chop up some fruit and grab some cheese cubes, crackers, little slices of salami and you're ready to go. Then for dessert, have a mini spread of candies, cookies, puppy chow, and chocolate-covered pretzels.

Five Key Things Discuss Before a Playdate

Although parents often attend playdates with their young children, if the parent and child are both comfortable, drop-off playdates might be an option. Two hours of free time seems like a dream, but is your child going to be safe? For the parents who plan to drop off their kids and dash, here are some important topics to discuss with the other parent before you go.

If you're hosting the playdate, with parents present or not, these can also be things to give information on or ask about before the event to be sure everyone has a safe and comfortable afternoon.

1. Allergies

If your child has food sensitivities or doesn't handle pet dander well, it's imperative that you alert the person supervising the playdate of these allergies. More importantly, if these allergies can bring a severe response, then you should also provide them with medications and instructions on how to administer them. You need to let them know about what signs to watch out for if an allergic reaction were to occur as well. Unfortunately, for some kids, this can cause a cancellation in these fun plans. For others, having this discussion is just a precaution for their safety.

2. Pets

If you have a pet, it's common courtesy to alert the other parents of this furry family member before the day of your playdate. This can ensure that if a child has an allergy, you address it before a reaction occurs. Also, for the kids who have never had a pet or been around animals, they may not be aware of the proper etiquette to follow when playing with furry friends. Remember that kids like to stick their fingers where they don't belong. Without this knowledge, accidents can occur. By talking about pets early on, you can give the other parent time to prepare their child for this interaction.

3. Pools

Not every kid knows how to swim. Drownings can occur at any time of year and most of those cases involve children between the ages of one and four. If someone has a pool, make sure they know if your little one does not know how to swim. It only takes seconds for something terrible to happen, and kids are crafty little creatures. If they have never been around a body of water, curiosity may get the best of them.

4. Stairs

This is another unexpected danger in the home. For a child who grew up with this home feature, the concept of climbing is no big deal. However, if you have never gone down stairs before, it can be a recipe for disaster. If the home your child is visiting has stairs, make sure the other parent knows that they are a fall risk.

5. Firearms

While we can hope that firearm owners have stored their guns safely, that's not always the case. In fact, research shows that a whopping 30 percent of gun owners in America keep at least one firearm unlocked and loaded in their home. Kids get into things that they aren't supposed to, especially in new and exciting environments. It can seem like an awkward conversation, but it is an important one. Ask if the host is a gun owner and ensure that they have these items stored safely out of reach.

Playdate Ideas Can Be Fun for Everyone

Whether you're hosting a playdate, planning it with another parent, or attending one with your child, there are lots of ways to make it fun and interesting for kids and adults alike. You don't have to make it elaborate, either.

Try a simple idea, like having your little guests bring their three favorite toys to show off during the playdate. This can let your kids try out new and different things and it reinforces the concept of sharing. Even something small and simple can turn an everyday afternoon into something extraordinary. No matter which playdate idea you choose, make sure that it's both entertaining and providing learning opportunities for your little ones. The best way to implement this is to get involved in the fun!

15 Playdate Ideas That Are Fun for Kids and Parents