I recently went to my niece’s 3rd birthday party. It brought back such fond memories of all that chaos, but not to the point where I wished I was right back in the thick of it with my own children. But the change that I have witnessed over the years, from small children parties to big children parties has been massive. So many different issues to have to deal with. Small children, small problems. Big children, big problems.
But the main thing to remember about all of them is the following:-
I worked out the other day that I have now had 59 parties for my children in some form or other – not always a swirling mass of themed nylon fire hazard clothing, (we had Beauty and The Beast, they have Frozen) sometimes just a special dinner or an outing, but nevertheless FIFTY NINE!! FIFTY NINE!! That deserves a medal. We as parents don’t do enough patting ourselves on the back for making all that effort and maybe we should introduce an International Parent’s Day instead of Mother’s and Father’s Day – would that work?
Anyway, I realised I have inadvertently become something of an expert and thought I ought to share – there is a huge difference between little children parties and big children parties. So here are my pearls of wisdom (more like grains, but you never know..):-
LITTLE CHILDREN PARTIES
1. Don’t be pressured into spending a fortune on ponies and expensive going home presents. They don’t care about all that as long as their friends are all there. One of the best ones we did was a karaoke party in a noodle bar. The other literally BEST one we did for a number of years running was to get an ice-cream van to arrive half way through the party. This goes down extremely well.
2. Do take full advantage of the fact that you can make them behave really well for at least two weeks prior to the party by threatening to cancel it on a regular basis – maybe even to the point of a few fake phone calls to parents….mean I know, but it works wonders and keeps them on track for weeks.
3. If you can’t actually be bothered with a party when they’re very small, fear not – if you take lots of photos of your child at another child’s party you can convince them it was their party in years to come. Trust me, they won’t remember.
4. Forget the healthy food. No one eats it and no need to impress the other parents, they will talk about you anyway.
5. Give wine to the other parents so that when they talk about you, they can’t quite remember the detail.
6. Don’t stress about the cake, as long as they have candles to blow out they don’t care – it gets squashed into the floor and sofas anyway. Best cake for me was the vat of ice-cream, tipped out onto a plate and covered in smarties and chocolate buttons. So easy.
7. Don’t be ashamed to ask for money as the present – but not too much! Or you will have Myleene Klass on your back
8. They love take away pizza as a food option or MacDonald’s and so easy!
9. Do employ someone to take charge – even if it’s a local teenager to play games with them in the garden – although don’t let them play “Fuck Me Gently” by Tenacious D like my teenager did at his brother’s 6th birthday party.
10. Enjoy it! Take lots of photos too. So that you can differentiate when they all blur into one big mass of chaos!
BIG CHILDREN PARTIES
1. This is when you long for the little children parties, because it all starts getting a bit out of hand and you might have to deal with alcohol and drugs that are snuck in via the back door or in water bottles or other sneaky containers. 14 – 18 year old parties are a nightmare. You have to have eyes in the back of your head.
2. Make sure you stay at the party – even if in another room.
3. Try and make sure that over the years your house becomes the party house – not great for the look of your house, but fantastic for knowing where your children are and what they are up to – and you get to have a great relationship with all their friends – and they tell you stuff!
4. When they are legally old enough to be allowed to drink alcohol, the whole thing steps up a notch and becomes even worse than having to deal with “Pass The Parcel”. More “Pass Out The Teenager” and you have to be prepared for vomit and drunk children. Make sure you buy industrial quantities of kitchen roll in preparation.
5. Make sure you provide stodgy food to mop up the alcohol – hot dogs or burgers or take away pizza. Lots of crisps.
Then if you’re lucky you’ll find these in the oven the next morning, hopefully not cooked!
6. They won’t drink water, but if you buy lots of small bottles of water and leave in big vats around and about for them to help themselves to, they will drink it from bottles
7. Leave bowls of sweets everywhere. They need the sugar!
8. Warn the neighbours so they don’t hate you like mine do
9. Enjoy the party with them – don’t let them tell you that you are not allowed to dance about with their friends – I know this seems like possibly a sad adult invasion, but there is nothing better than mixing the generations and they will learn that incorporating young and old into festivities will keep everyone happy for a long time to come.
10. Put “NO ENTRY” signs on all your bedroom doors if you can’t lock them. Put plastic sheeting down if it’s winter and you have carpet you don’t want them to damage. They will not take shoes off and they will roam about the house until they’re told not to. Expect a mess. The worst one I had to deal with was putting my foot into a large pile of vomit when I finally got into bed once. Completely revolting.
But, the time flies by and you can’t believe you aren’t making “Sponge Bob Square Pants” cakes anymore and they aren’t clinging to your body after overdosing on e-numbers and completely over-wraught and it will be hardly any time before they are off having parties of their own in their own houses….and then you’ll miss it. Chaos and all.
Oh and a good idea to order one of these for arrival at the end:-