Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Phew! I’ve thrown two birthday parties in one week. Little M turned five and little P three within days of each other. It was the first time I'd done separate ‘at home’ parties for them and oh my goodness it was hard work! I hadn’t realised how much preparation was involved.

Little M’s party fell on the only rainy day of the week, which meant no bouncy castle in the garden and ten boisterous boys bouncing around indoors instead. Luckily I was ready with plan B, a military precision schedule of party games and party food all timed to the last minute.
I am always amazed at other children's parties how kids love doing crafts. I guess they need something calming after all that jumping around. I’ve seen crown making, colouring party bags and biscuit decorating all go down really well. We opted for shield making. I cut out shield shapes in gold and silver card and they decorated them with stickers, pompoms and feathers. It was amazingly popular and we had a prize for the best knight.
As a complete contrast, it was a gloriously hot day on Little P’s birthday, so we had a very easy laid back party in the garden. We finally got our bouncy castle. Hurray! And a rather bizarre warning not to have a barbeque on it. We only needed a couple of party games as the children seemed happy enough racing around the lawn.
We survived it. The children had fun. And there weren't too many tears that couldn't be dried with a packet of Haribos. So here are my tips for hosting a children's party;
  • Get help: I’m not including husbands or partners here. You need expert multi-taskers. That means women. Recruit your mum, sister, sister-in-law, other mum friends.
  • Keep it simple: Yes I know you want to go all Nigella Lawson domestic goddess but save yourself the hassle. Kids want chocolate finger biscuits and hula hoops. Save your tiffin recipe for a rainy day with the kids. Ditto making your own bunting. Ditto sewing a homemade party dress. You don’t have the time!
  • Keep it cheap: I discovered the marvels of the 99p store. Stock up on cute paper cups and plates, party bag supplies, balloons, pass the parcel gifts, pretty much everything here.
  • Plan, plan, plan: Make a playlist in advance. Gangnam Style seems to be the party song of choice for YR boys. Dora Explorer is a winner for pre-school girls. I can report that Skyfall was only a popular choice with me. Decide in advance what games you are playing and when you are eating.  
  • Haribos: These little gummy wonders are your secret weapon. Hand them out frequently to keep everyone sweet.
  • Party bags: If all else goes wrong at least you are sending them on their way with a good party bag which will wipe all preceding disasters from their memories. That is my theory anyway. I put plastic dinosaurs, pencils and haribos in bags for Little M’s friends and fairy wands, bouncy balls and haribos in Little P’s friends.
  • Remember: They will be excited about hanging out with each other outside school or pre-school. All the rest is flim flam.
And finally, put a bottle of prosecco in the fridge to chill for later on. You've earned it!

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