There's nothing easier -- and more important -- than introducing yourself to your children's friends when they come over to play. Make sure they know what you like to be called by introducing yourself that way -- either by first name or Mrs. Whatever; that way, if they need something while they're at your home, they'll be more likely to ask.
Give them a quick house tour
For younger playmates, it's especially important to give them a quick tour of the house, including where the bathrooms are located! Make sure they know where you'll be at all times and where good place to play are. This is also a great time to mention little rules that may be special for your home -- such as "Leave the cat alone" or "Don't go in Big Sister's bedroom."
Fresh-baked cookies go a long way...
No matter how old the kids may be, there's nothing like a freshly baked batch of cookies when it comes to being a popular play-date house! Even your teenage son, who barely acknowledges your existence these days, will crack a grateful smile when you drop off a plate of warm, gooey cookies for him and his friends while they zone out on the coolest new video games. Not a baking mom? Keep those easy ready-to-bake cookie doughs in the freezer for instant play-date happiness!
Know when to let them be
Little kids are an exception to this idea, but sometimes the best thing you can do as a play date hostess is to let the kids be. Set them up with a fun activity or with a snack and then let your own child play host or hostess to their friends. Be present, but don't hover. Remember that they came over to spend time with your child, not with you. For older children -- tweens and teens -- be sure that they know play-date rules before their guests come over -- for example, if they need to keep the door to their room open or eat snacks in the kitchen.
Communicate with the other parents
Most important for a drop-off or after-school playdate where the other parents aren't coming along: Be sure you touch base with the parents pre-play date. Does their child have any allergies you need to know about? What time do they need to be home? Finding out these things in advance can make play-date life go much smoother! And don't forget to exchange phone numbers for last-minute changes!