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In the Bringing Up Great Kids Facebook group, someone recently shared the challenge of bringing together old friends pre-Christmas meal now that they're all parents.
"A bunch of us, London-based uni friends, have a tradition of a Christmas dinner each year, which we've kept up for over 10 years now. Pre-kids, it was always hosted in someone's house and was very boozy. Then the friends got coupled up, and had babies, and then more babies, and now the group is 12 friends and 8 little children. These days the rabble is far too rabble-y for one family to host. It's also too much chaos for a normal pub. So – where to hold it now?"
The suggestions that arose from the thread were so great that we decided we had to compile and share them.
Option 1: A pre-Christmas Extravaganza
One of the most popular suggestions was to hire a private room in a child friendly pub and bring out some crafts, games and the iPad for the kids, or even enlist an entertainer. This leaves time for catch ups with friends and gives the children the opportunity to play together without you worrying about other diners.
But what pub would welcome the rabble?
Fortunately, there were a bunch of specific options recommended. Some even had dedicated children’s entertainers or soft play.
Here's the list:
The Goat in Chelsea has a Sunday Kids Club, with professional entertainers, allowing a leisurely dining experience and lots of fun for young ones.
The Moorhen in Harlow, Essex has a complete soft play barn in a charming canal side setting.
Bertie and Boo Restaurant and Play in Clapham offers a great environment for children, complete with play and magic shows, and good food (and drink!) for all ages.
At Tom’s Kitchen, Canary Wharf, kids under 12 eat free at the weekend and there is a dedicated playroom with activities for children.
Corner Kitchen in Forest Gate, E7 has a kids play area downstairs with space for tables too (and the food is delicious).
The Corner House in Brook Green has a beautiful play area and is available for private hire.
In Finsbury Park, The Park Theatre, has a great private room that's available for hire. The food is good, it’s very relaxed, and you can easily bring in games etc.
The Latchmere in South London is another option, possibly more suited to smaller gatherings, but very child friendly, complete with an outdoor Wendy house and play area. One to remember for when temperatures edge into double digits again!
And finally, for something a little different, the ex-British Legion social club, The Earl Haig Hall in Crouch End offers a very child friendly environment on Sundays, with a bit more space than most conventional pubs but all the traditional roast options; chicken, pork, beef and vegan.
Option 2: Someone Else’s House AKA an Airbnb
Whilst as little as five years ago the idea of hosting an event in the house of a complete stranger would seem crazy, the growth of Airbnb has opened the possibility of taking your rabble to another home. Rent a Central London townhouse, suburban cottage or even a castle to act as your party palace, complete with cleaning fee, whilst also offering accommodation for those friends that come from further afield. Add in a serious takeaway order or some catering and some soft play hire to complete the package and make the occasion really special for all involved.
Whilst other venue providers are available, Airbnb offers highly competitive pricing and includes loads of filters, including a ‘suitable for events’ option, to make sure the venue can handle a party, and other categories covering everything from pets to parking. Make sure that there’s a one night minimum stay option and all your boxes have been ticked, then start finding amazing places to celebrate an early Christmas.
In North London there's also a soft play centre you can hire, which allows you to bring your own food in; the KB02 Centre.
Option 3: Just don't involve the kids at all
For one evening over the Christmas period, someone suggested, just call in your biggest favours with friends and family or arrange for a babysitter or nanny to look after the kids.
Or arrange group childcare, with kids meeting up to play together under the supervision of multiple nannies, babysitters or family members.
A big thank you to all the parents in the Bringing Up Great Kids Facebook group for their words of wisdom. If you aren't a member, join now.
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