Whether you're planning a birthday party or a holiday event at your home, here are some quick and easy ways you can have a successful night with kids at your fiesta.

1. Have a Designated Kid Zone

If it's a room or a basement, just make sure it's a large enough space to house them all.

2. Hire a Teenager

A sitter can be paid for by you, the host, or a "tip jar" in the room for parents to throw a few fives (or twenties) in, depending on how monstrous their kiddos were. If you're expecting a bunch of kids, plan on at least two sitters. Figure four kids per teen, not counting babies.

3. Plan a One-Room, Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Purchase some prizes from the dollar store that can be handed out to the winners. You can have your older children help plan this out, if you'd like to get them more involved.

4. Have a Crash-Out Section

Create an area in the room with sleeping bags, pillows, and a television with age-appropriate movies so over-tired tots can crash in comfort.

5. Have Areas for the Older Kids

Either have a video game available or a quiet place with some board games. This can be within the kid area, by the way.

6. Check on Them Frequently

It's your home, so make sure your rules are being followed and kids are playing nicely. If you don't have a sitter, you can put an older child in charge — one that you can trust to tattle on the right things and work out situations.

7. Make an Indoor Ball Park

Blow up a cheap swimming pool, throw in balls and balloons and let the kids go wild. Just make sure you have extras for when they pop. Also, don't allow babies or toddlers to play with balloons, as they're a choking hazard.

8. Limit Alcohol, or Avoid It Completely

A kid-friendly party is not a good place to go on a binge, so make sure your non-parent friends are aware of this fact.

9. Write Out a List of Rules and Go Over It With the Kids When They Arrive

This avoids the whole "I didn't know" problem. If kids aren't allowed to leave the kid area, say so. If only a grown up is allowed to change the movie, then they have to go get a grown up. Make sure to list consequences, as well. Make a copy for the parents to see so they can support your rules. You want a fun night, so to make sure the kids are aware that there rules and consequences, you need to tell them up front. Most of the time, just knowing the rules will prevent problems. But then again, there's always that one kid...

10. Take Everything You Care About Out of the Kid Area

Just expect that things will get broken. If they don't, what a pleasant surprise. But don't leave out your great-grandma's china set that made it across the Oregon trail and get mad when they use it as a tea set. Take it out and put it away. If their parents haven't taught them how to play nice, that's their issue. Your job is to "kid-proof" the place so you're stress-free the night of the gala.

Have Fun!

If kids can mingle, and this is always makes events in my home more fun, they grow up with an understanding of how to behave at social events. That's never a bad thing. Don't invite the creepy dude. Try to keep the place as safe as possible, and enjoy your time. Kids are really fun, once you get to know them.

See Also: