A common question across mothers sites the past few weeks has been kids birthday parties. What is the etiquette? Where do I have it? Do I invite the whole class? Prior to school chances are you’ve had family only shindigs. Once your treasures start their school career they’ll want to invite their new mates, and while I’m no expert I worked out I have held 16 school kid birthdays, and learnt a bit along the way.
Step 1: Choose a venue
I strongly recommend you have it outside your home. A dodgy play-centre. A park. The beach. Nana’s house. Great Aunt Maud’s. Anywhere but your house. Why? If you think those parties you went to at 16 caused damage let 20 five year olds in your house with cake. If you do have it at home outside only. Tying them to the fence works well.
Step 2: Entertainment
Yes you need it. Sticking 20 kids in your backyard and telling them to amuse themselves isn’t a party it’s a massive play date. Hire a clown, fairy, magician or dress up yourself. Make your husband do it. Do pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel – whatever just make it fun. Or you’ll be remembered as the worst party in history
Step 3: Invite your guests
Here’s my golden rule. You invite all the kids or LESS than half the class. Don’t invite 15 out of 18 kids. Don’t invite 7 out of 9 girls. ALL or LESS than half. If your kid doesn’t like someone they should be first on your list. Nothing like a party to turn kids into best friends.
Step 4: Food
Fairy bread. Sausage rolls. Cupcakes. Little boys. In short – junk. It’s a party not a health food convention. Add some fruit if it makes you feel better. But the kids will only eat it because they feel sorry for you. And if you want to impress other parents invite them for a drink. Fruit kebabs at a party isn’t the way to go. A party is meant to be fun. You don’t make friends with fruit salad.
Step 5: Open the presents after the party
Open your presents after the party. No one wants to sit around watching your kid open 20 presents only to be told they can’t touch them and we are “putting them away for later” That’s a form of çhild torture. “This is from Molly-Rose.” “And here we have Sammy’s gift.” Boring.
Step 6: Get the cake right
The cake. It has to be awesome. If you can bake, great. If you can’t buy one or get someone who can to. The cake has to look amazing but don’t worry about the taste – most of the kids won’t eat it. They will all want the same decoration from the top of it and scream and fight for it, and you’ll be finding cake for weeks after down the side of your lounge. Be on hand to relight the candles – you can bet your bottom dollar some clown will blow them out trying to steal the birthday child’s thunder.
Step 7: Lolly Bags
Mandatory. No exceptions. Have to be FULL of so much junk they’ll send the recipient into a sugar coma for the next month. Freddo Frogs, Cadbury Minis. Redskins. Snakes. Wizz Fizz Sherbet. Jelly Beans. Pre pack them and have a few extra for the siblings on pickup who gaze longingly at them knowing their brother/sister won’t give them squat out of theirs.
Step 8: Send the kids home and hide in the bedroom
Recover and thank God you only have to do one of these every year at worst. Multiple times if you’re an idiot and had more than one child.