Play Date 101

Play Date 101

Today over at AOL, as their Lifestyle expert, we are going to talk about how to handle the wild and wooly monkeys when you are hosting a play date at your home. Play dates and playgroups are fun and especially for the younger ones, like my two-year old son, Brooks, Play dates are where kids learn and work on their social skills.  I’m going to share some simple tricks to help you become a play date maven.

Rule #1: - MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Always remember, you are the captain of the ship!!

I’m all about the kids having a blast, but remember you are the captain of the ship, and like the saying goes about the ocean, you can never turn your back to it!  If you are hosting a play date you need to be engaged with your crew or else face certain mutiny.  If things are getting a little wild, take a moment to explain the “house rules”.   Especially for those just embarking on the world of play dates, like my toddler Brooks, we really make sure we work on manners.  Like saying please and thank you and obviously sharing is a HUGE component of a play date.  Be prepared with multiple activities so you can change it up if the vibe is going south.

Rule #2: - Go big or go home 

And when I say big, I’m talking about your PATIENCE needing to be big.  Kids will be kids and to expect that your play date is going to be a quiet tea party is not reality.  Expect the unexpected.   Your perfectly behaved angel of heaven may neglect the volume of his “inside voice” along with his play date playmates who think screaming at the top of their lungs is an art form.  That’s par for the course in play date town.  Take a deep breath and remember all things come to an end.  Do yourself a favor and put away any breakables that are within reach.  Think of it as modified baby proofing.  Even if your child knows not to touch great Grandmomma’s antique vase doesn’t mean the rules will be remembered in the heat of the moment.  Also remove any toys or things your child sometimes has trouble sharing.  Save yourself the headache.

Rule #3 - Schedule Wisely

Set your little monkey up for success.  Scheduling a play date right before naptime probably isn’t the best move unless you desire drama for the mama.  You know how your child operates and what their best time zones are.  You want your little one to be well rested before the play date party begins. Rule #4 - Timing is everything

Toddler play dates should last one to two hours.   Give a start and end time to your fiesta.  Being on your best behavior can be exhausting!!  Too much play date time is a sure fire recipe for a major meltdown.

Rule #5 - Be prepared with healthy snacks!

Play dates work up a serious hunger.  Obviously its important to be aware of any allergies your visitors may have and I make sure I’m prepared ahead of time as much as possible so I’m not stuck in the kitchen.  While the play date is going down.  Make what you can ahead of time and I love having a treat to serve at the end of a meal.  Who doesn’t love dessert?

One of my favorite tips is making your cookie dough ahead of time and placing in the fridge so all I have to do is pop in oven.  And who doesn’t love a cookie fresh from the oven.

Below is one of my favorite cookie recipes for play dates. I use chickpeas instead of flour making these yummy cookies gluten free.


  • 1 ¼ cups canned chickpeas -It is really important that you rinse these really well and pat them dry first.  I like using a clean dishtowel so you don’t waste a ton of paper towels.
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup and 2 tablespoons of natural almond butter- Your almond butter should be room temperature and you can substitute peanut butter if you like
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Place everything in the food processor…except the chocolate chips.  The BEST gets saved for last!  And blend until smooth.  Make sure and stop the food processor a few times during the process and scrape down the sides.  Once mixture is smooth, toss in the chocolate chips for a couple whirls in the food processor to blend in evenly.

SUPER important tip is NOT to try and double this recipe.  The peanut butter and chickpeas make a thick paste and I promise you, your food processor will not appreciate the extra work.  I was once issued the same warning and just as I thought it was a silly rule, my food processor began to spew smoke…. TRUE STORY!!!

Once everything is blended I like to pop my food processor bowl into the fridge for about an hour to give the dough time to firm up a bit. Once your dough has firmed up, I make spoonful-sized balls and place in an airtight container layered with parchment paper.  Store in your fridge and then you are ready to rock and have cookie dough at your fingertips for your play date.  The dough will last in the fridge for about week and a half.

Cook at 375 for about 10 minutes

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.