Parent Hacks' pipe cleaner party hat post reminded me of a very savvy tip from Jim's Aunt Mo: parents should ALWAYS carry a few pipe cleaners when going out with young kids.
They're small and great for imaginative play. They're perfect for restaurants and waiting rooms as they're versatile, compact, and not messy.
We went out with some friends a few days after receiving this tip and our tapas took forever. The kids didn't mind at all after we gave them the pipe cleaners. They went through numerous transformations (animals, shapes, flowers) and then settled into two pairs of pipe cleaner glasses worn through the rest of the evening.