Make It All About Fun
Let your child pick which friend
If you're hosting a play date for a toddler or younger child, chances are the parent will hang out for the duration, and it's more about the two parents getting together than the kids. If your child is of school age, the play date attendee should be picked by your child. This way you will know they will get along and share the common interests that brought them together in the first place.
Share the house rules
You can't assume the visiting child knows the rules in your house, since each family is different. If you have such rules as no running in the house, no yelling or eating only in the dining room, be sure to share them with not only the house guest but also with your child as a reminder. This way there will be no surprises or issues, and everything will go smoothly.
Plan ahead of time
Preparing for your child's play date will make a world of difference. Be sure to plan out the specifics, like when the friend will arrive, who will pick him or her up or if you will be dropping them off and when. Also be sure to plan activities for the kids if they get bored, such as movies to watch or fun games to play.
Have snacks on hand
Hungry kids mean grumpy kids, and that's not fun for anyone while on a play date. Have snacks at the ready (be sure to check with the parents for any food allergies first), such as popcorn, fresh fruit and juice, to avoid those hunger-crash crankies.
Get the friend's information
Before the play date starts, be sure to talk to the child's parents to get their contact information. The last thing you want is a sick or upset child you can't console and having to wait hours until the pickup time. Having the information handy will avoid those awkward moments and make the play date that much more smooth.
Keep the duration reasonable
Kids don't have large attention spans, so keep that in mind when planning your child's play date. If it's your child's first play date or first play date with a particular friend, keep the time to a few hours at most. This will allow you to see how well the kids interact with each other. The more often they get together, the better you will know if you can handle them for longer periods.