7 stress-free tips for hosting a dinner party with kids

Plus, easy holiday and decor trends to follow.

tips for hosting a dinner party

There's nothing quite like a dinner party, especially around the holiday season. You can munch on tasty food while surrounded by cozy familial vibes and good people. Don't you wish you could host one every weekend? What's not to like?

There's a common belief that hosting a holiday party is hard to do with children around. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Before you plan your holiday dinner party, consider some important factors to make the experience as enjoyable as possible and not stressful for you, mama.

Here are several tips on how to host a beautiful dinner party:

1. Make room for the kids

Separate the adults from the children. Either make a designated kids table or move the kids to the end of the table, as this will make serving that much easier—why stress about rearranging the steak knives when you don't have to?

2. Provide personalized seating assignments

By assigning seats, you'll relieve the stress for your guests to have to decide where to sit. Create a name card for each guest and be strategic where you place people to keep the conversation going. Pro tip: Personalize seating cards to encourage conversation among guests such as stating descriptive words about the person or an object that is representative of who they are (like a favorite food) Customize these Shutterfly place cards to assign guests their seats.

3. Keep the kids busy

Want to enjoy a nice glass of champagne but need to entertain the kiddos? Art projects for kids are a great way to keep little ones entertained at parties. Have a table dedicated to one art project. Some of my favorites are:


  • Making Christmas trees out of Styrofoam and colorful buttons
  • Decorating iconic holiday desserts like cookies or cupcakes. You can even have kids decorate their desserts on plates to take home.
  • Setting up a photo station by having kids get their pictures taken on a Polaroid camera and letting them design their own frame. They can even wrap up the final creation and give it to parents as a gift.

4. Don't fix what isn't broke

Despite the elegance of the party, remember to keep it simple and ensure that you keep the party on brand for yourself and your guests. Don't go too wild with the menu with options that you don't normally eat. For example, I always incorporate french fries on every table, no matter the occasion. Plus, I always provide a menu on the table so guests know what they're about to be eating.

5. Recycle your items

Go shopping in your own cabinets and dust off those China plates that your Grandma gave you. We've all been so afraid of taking out those plates for fear of chipping them, but imperfection is beauty and those flawed plates tell a story. Don't be afraid to use your fancy plates—they look nicer on the table then they do put away. Although, again, would recommend avoiding chinaware for the kids.

6. Keep the decor low to make the conversation flow

The conversation is key to a dinner party so it's crucial to create a setting that enables this. When creating your centerpieces, make sure you find decor that is low enough for small talk. If a person cannot make eye contact with any of the guests directly across or diagonal from them, then the piece is not worth it.

7. Relax

Remember, you're having this dinner party to bring people together and spread the love. This should apply to yourself, too. If you're stressed out or too worried about everyone having a good time, what was the point of even having the dinner? It is unlikely that everything will go as planned (especially with kids), but at the end of the night, it's about the company.

Now that you've mastered the table, here are more holiday decor + entertaining trends to follow:

1. Go with burgundy

Instead of the classic red for the holidays, it's all about burgundy this year. Whether it's in your tablecloths or pillows, make sure to find a way to incorporate this gorgeous color into your holiday events.

2. Bring the outdoors indoors

People are still loving natural elements in holiday decor, so don't be afraid to find inspiration in the great outdoors. Welcome guests into your own private forest (like you're going to cut down your Christmas tree!) by using birch wood accents or oversized glitzy, gold pinecones.

3. Opt for metallics

This holiday season, I'm looking to create coziness wherever possible, which means ditching icy silver tones for warmer golds. This helps bring a sparkly, luxe vibe to any party. You can even create custom ornaments with gold accents for your tree, or have all your gifts wrapped with gold metallic ribbon.

4. Personalized gifts matter

In a time where anything we want is just one click away, purchasing more thoughtful, personalized gifts for family and friends will for sure make you stand out. Opt for a DIY gift like homemade cookies, crafty coasters or homemade body scrub.

5. Music matters too

Music can make or break the ambiance of a party so try not to just turn on a radio station and call it a day. Be thoughtful when creating a playlist for the evening to keep the holiday cheer going all night. Whether you're into contemporary holiday hits, or a fan of the classics (like me!), take the time to curate the musical experience for your guests. If you're in doubt, streaming services have great curated playlists.

6. Focus on Christmas morning

People are starting to create new family traditions on Christmas morning during the holiday season. Get up and make a fun breakfast with the kids after opening presents to focus on spending time with loved ones, not just everyone's new gifts. Try making Christmas tree waffles or reindeer red velvet pancakes. You can even have a topping bar for everyone to decorate their breakfast with fun add-ins like bananas, strawberries, chocolate chips, marshmallows and fun sauces—making it fun and tasty for everyone!

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There are major health benefits when baby looks just like dad, says study

They had fewer emergency room visits and were less likely to suffer from asthma + illness, according to findings.

We’re the ones who carry them for nine months, so it can be a bit of shock when a baby is born looking nothing like us. It might even feel a bit unfair, but don’t take it too hard, mama. Science proves looking like dad has some big benefits for babies.

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