With the festive season quickly approaching, parties are starting to fill the calendar, especially for special occasions and events. For many people who might have an assistive need, parties and special events can take a little more planning to make sure that everyone has a good time.
In this article, we’re sharing some of our top tips for hosting an accessible and inclusive party that everyone can enjoy, alongside what to keep in mind during the planning stages.
1. Research everywhere
When hosting a party, research is a crucial step in the planning process. Whether you’re hosting at an event space or your home, choosing a location will require some extra attention to detail to ensure that everyone can get to the venue.
Restaurants and event spaces
Things to research include restaurants with usable and accessible entrances such as wheelchair ramps or portable ramps, large event rooms with space, and accessible bathrooms.
Sometimes restaurants may state that they have accessible entrances when it’s actually a back door entrance or the kitchen entrance, so being clear with the restaurant and what you require ensures everyone’s expectations and needs are met. It’s also important to call and check with the staff that the menu has dietary requirement options or can be modified on request. This will make certain that your guests feel welcome at your event.
Hosting at home
For hosting at home, make sure that your house or apartment building has an accessible entrance for those in a wheelchair or who use a walker and that hallways, bathrooms, and living rooms are large enough to accommodate everyone.
2. Invest in adaptive tableware
If you’ve opted for the at-home party option, investing in some adaptable tableware will be a great option for making your guests feel more at ease. Adaptive cutlery, like knives and forks, help everyone feel included, while unbreakable cups and glasses can be given to the whole party, which can make those with sensory or response needs feel considered and cared for. Investing in assistive tableware also gives you the flexibility to use them for future parties.
For events at public venues, check with the staff if they have assistive tableware options. If not, ask if you can bring your own cutlery or drinkware. Explaining that some of your guests have assistive needs will make sure that everyone, including the restaurant staff, is on the same page and how they can plan and accommodate for everyone.
3. Space and seating
For those with assistive needs, many times overly crowded, loud, and new spaces can become overwhelming very quickly, especially for young children. When looking to host an adaptive party, ensuring there is enough space and seating to accommodate all your guests and their needs is critical for a successful event.
For parties in public spaces, opting for a function or private room can be a great, practical option. This will give everyone a sense of security and peace of mind, while providing guests the needed space and separation from the rest of the business at the restaurant.
For hosting at home where space can often be a little more restrictive, make sure that your living spaces have enough chairs and comfy spots so that people have somewhere to sit. Allocating space for equipment, like wheelchairs or walkers close to where people are sitting and mingling will give your guests access to their equipment easily without it being hidden in a corner, which can make it harder to independently access.
If your living spaces are quite small, dedicating a quiet zone or a spare bedroom for those who need some downtime or a space to breathe will help make your guests feel more at ease if the party gets a bit loud or boisterous. Especially for guests with sensory needs, a safe and quiet space can help them enjoy the party even more, because they know their needs have been looked after.
Creating a dedicated ‘kids zone’ for young children can also be a good way to help those with adaptive needs relax and enjoy themselves. Young children can play and enjoy the party away from loud adults. Make sure that you have some toys and sensory items available if needed to make the space feel even more homely and safe.
4. Food options
Food and dietary requirements are always an important consideration when hosting a party. Having a range of foods that everyone will enjoy will help the party feel light and fun. For events at a public space, make sure to ring beforehand and double-check that the menu has options to suit dietary requirements.
For hosting at home, check in with your guests on any dietary requirements ahead of time. This way you can have a clear picture of what people can and can’t eat, which will make it easier when planning food. Searching for recipes online is a great resource when having to navigate any type of food intolerance or allergies.
If you are paying for catering, ensure that all your guests’ dietary needs are communicated before the event. This will make it easy for wait staff to describe what each food contains, and which food is for those with dietary requirements.
5. Plan adaptive party games
When you’re at a party, the best way to make sure everyone feels included is by having a range of optional party games. Whether you’re hosting a kids birthday party or a Christmas party, everyone likes to play games, and they are a great way to break the ice if your guests haven’t met before. Some games could include:
- Musical statues
- Card games
- Secret Santa (for Christmas parties)
- Board games
- Beanbag toss
- Lawn bowls
Hosting an inclusive and accessible party may seem complex, but it will make all the difference to your guests and their enjoyment with a little planning up front. For your next accessible and inclusive party, check out the range of adaptive cutlery and tableware, as well as games from Averee.