Yesterday, we had 11 girls AT HOME for Beaver’s birthday. Some people call this a party. I call it ‘one step closer to that nervous breakdown.’ If you’re insane enough to consider trying this at home, here’s some tips.
When I asked Beaver what she wanted to do for her birthday this year, I was expecting a skydiving party or something equally bizarre. Because once you’ve done soft play, pizza making, Wonderland parties, what else is there? So when she said, in a rather jaded voice, she’d just like a party at home with pass the parcel, I was a) gobsmacked b) relieved (parties at home are cheap, right?) and c) petrified. For someone who doesn’t even like hosting playdates, a party at home was bordering on an extreme sport. But here’s how we did it.
1. Be prepared. Forget being a good Girl Guide or Cub Scout, this has never been truer than when holding a kids’ party. You may think you can wing it with a few impromptu games and a party tea. THINK AGAIN. Kids are a tough crowd. I wrote an itinerary with the guest list at the bottom (see pic).Yes, an actual itinerary. Because there is nothing like 11 six year old girls asking you something all at once to make you forget who you are, let alone what you were supposed to be doing. Structure and focus are your friends right now. Gin in a can is not. Sorry.
2. The guest list. Keep it as small as you can get away with. Set it on a date when you know kids won’t be able to come. Better still, whack it in the middle of the summer holidays when most people are away. Ha ha. In the end, we had 11 girls including our two. One friend said that this was probably six too many. I’ve heard boys are a nightmare for being boisterous and wrecking the joint (I’ll let you know when The Boy with No Name is bigger), so maybe don’t try this at home, if that’s true.
3. Be an early bird. Most parties happen in the afternoon. Which means you have all day leading up to it and a tired, slightly manic birthday child by the time it starts. Plus, do you really want seven hours of them asking, ‘Is it my party yet?’ We had our party in the morning from 11-1 PM (two hours is more than enough). We were up early (obviously) and by 2 PM we were cleared up and drinking wine. Cheers.
3. Buy prizes AND sweets. There MUST be prizes for the winners of the party games and sweets for all the runners up. In other words, buy a shed load of sweets and give them out for practically everything. Have at least one layer per guest for pass the parcel (and use your itinerary guest list to tick each child off so you know they’ve had it). I learned this the hard way at Godivy’s 3rd birthday when I didn’t have prizes or sweets. You only make that mistake once, I can tell you.
4. Be nice. These are not your kids. Remember that at all times. Don’t swear. Shout. Or do anything that you don’t want to be around the rest of the class by the end of the day. Kids talk. A lot. Be on your best behaviour and mutter any expletives under your breath. Practice saying, ‘OK’ and, ‘Ahhh that’s nice’ in a highly pitched, happy, slightly insane voice.
5. Be patient. Because you will need it. Imagine a chaotic tea time then multiply it by six. Six times the amount of kids asking you for squash, sharing their dietary issues with you and asking for a variation of the food you’ve served. Time to use that highly pitched voice again. (I don’t know how these large families with 12 kids do it. Do they just feed them in one giant trough?)
6. Serve whatever food you like. Because you can’t please all of the kids all of the time. If they don’t like ANYTHING you’ve provided, throw a handful of sweets on a plate and be done with it. Wotsits can actually be eaten with a fork. Which technically makes them a meal. FACT.
7. Don’t try too hard. Face painting and nails is always a hit but whilst you might think that ‘Decorating your own ice cream’ is exciting and innovative, these kids have seen things you haven’t even dreamed of. So do it, by all means, but don’t expect them to think you’re cool. Plus there will always be some strange kid who doesn’t like ice cream. Or chocolate fingers. Or maltesers. Time to get out the Wotsits again.
8. Imagine yourself on a night out. From what I can see, six year old girls’ parties are not much different to a drunk girls’ night out. There will be dancing injuries. Someone will lose their bag. Someone will cry. They will want to hear the same song on loop, repeatedly. They will go to the toilet in pairs and dither about everything. Oh and someone will probably be sick.
9. Present etiquette. Thankfully, Beaver has grown out of going up to each guest with her arms outstretched and asking, ‘What have you bought me?’ When you do come to open the presents, use that itinerary guest list again to write what each child gave and assign any gifts unaccounted for. So your child can write a personal thank you. Handy isn’t it, that itinerary? Not such a geek after all, eh? (I am, I know.)
10. Don’t expect the birthday girl/boy to enjoy it. Some kids are party animals but in my experience the birthday girl or boy doesn’t always enjoy the party as much as their guests (this may just be my kids). This doesn’t matter. I’ve decided it’s the sign of a good party. I mean, no one has a tantrum for not winning pass the parcel if the prize is crap, do they? Anyway, regardless of how they behave, several hours later they’ll be telling you how brilliant it was. (And several hours later you’ll have drunk too many gins in a can to care.)
So there you have it. Will I do a party at home again? Yes, I think I probably will. Why? Because apart from the fact it was cheap, it was extremely amusing seeing Daddy Pig out of his depth surrounded by 11 six year old girls. Even The Boy with No Name was slightly unimpressed. And that, my friends, is priceless.