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Can I bring my toddler to a party?

Whether the event is Thanksgiving or just a gathering at a friend's house, to make sure the night's fun for everyone:

Settle key details beforehand. Ask if there will be a safe spot for your child to hang out in  -- a bedroom? The den? Put on his pj's so he can drift off there when the time comes. (A portable play yard, if you have one, is great for safe slumber away from home.)

Split toddler duty. Commit to specific shifts (perhaps switching every hour), so you and your spouse (or a good friend) know whose turn it is to watch your toddler throughout the evening. You'll each be more relaxed and better able to mingle if you're not solely responsible for watching your child.

Bring your own food. Tote a small container of pasta, yogurt, applesauce, or other kid-friendly fare in case your child won't eat what's served.

Keep your kid busy. To prevent your toddler from "playing" with your friend's prized glass bottle collection, come armed with videos (which he can watch in his separate room) and coloring books. If your hostess doesn't mind, keep him occupied with little jobs, like handing out coasters or napkins.

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