Style Points: Sharing your Home with the Younger Set.

I have always been fond of having visitors ever since I was very young. My parents and grandparents were effortless entertainers and I learned a lot about how to make guests feel at home from them. I know I spent hours lingering in the hallway just outside the kitchen listening to grown-up conversation and the sound of ice clinking in the bottom of the glasses. Just as a stream of visitors were always at my grandparents and my childhood home, I grew up wanting to have a home that people would want to return to over and over again. I've said before that lifestyle design is about styling homes around a style of life. Included in my genes is a love of entertaining, and therefore my home is designed for this purpose.

But while I have mastered many ideas on signature drinks and dinner menus for adults, I think there is a finer art for keeping children entertained, engaged, and comfortable in your home while you balance your time with your adult guests. Since you never know who may be dropping by your home, here are five tips to help you share your home with the youngsters...

  • First, when you design your home and garden, design for all ages. This idea may sound strange for those who don't have school-aged children living at home. And you may understandably be less concerned about child-proofing, but that doesn't mean that childhood concerns should go out the window! For example, many beautiful gardens I have visited were at the homes of people without children. The gardens contained special plants and creative water features that were safe for kids to explore; and brought childhood whimsy and wonder to the adults too!
  • Keep a supply of things that are safe for children to use. Save the crystal glasses for another time, and instead use colorful dishes and glasses that can stand some abuse. I love the melamine dishes and plastic glasses readily available during the summer months. When they go on sale, I buy them in loads, and use them year round.
  • Make a game, puzzle, and art supply treasure chest that kids will love to explore. Certain games will always hold up better over time, like building blocks. But also include other crafty items, card games, watercolors paints, and paintbrush. These games can keep kids occupied for a good long while.
  • Though my Aunt Belle's kids were all grown up when I used to visit her, I never complained about being bored knowing that she always had a pint of ice cream in her freezer for milk shakes. YUM. Take a tip from my Aunt and be sure to stock your pantry or freezer with a few snacks kids will love. (You may end up being the favorite aunt after all!) I can always count on ice pops, cookies, marshmallows and fresh fruit. Kids will usually like one or more, but when time allows, check with parents to address any allergy concerns. For meals, you may want to serve the same thing, or make a simpler version of what's on the adult menu.
  • Overnight stays and vacationing guests present a new concern. What do you do to fill their time? Make their trip memorable by offering to do things that their busy parents don't have time to do. This summer, my visitors will be attending First Friday art openings; reading new books; exploring maps, local zoos, aquariums and museums; and taking all sorts of pictures. All things they can't readily duplicate at home.

Be Inspired,



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