Many bloggers highlight children's parties - the issues of home/ party venue/ junk food served/ lolly bags/ general expectations around behaviour/ gifts/ games. I always have our parties at home, serve a basic menu, do party favours & put on traditional games of pass-the-parcel, musical statues with a small prize at the end - you are NOT ALL WINNERS!! I actually refer to junk food as party food, as that is where it should stay!!
I've thrown dozens of chidlren's parties in my time & my basic set menu is . . .
sandwich platter (egg, curried egg, egg & lettuce, ham, ham & cheese, cheese, salmon, chicken, chicken & sprouts, chicken & avocado on wholemeal & multigrain bread, crusts on)
homemade sausage rolls, mini quiches & homeheated cocktail franks
fruit platters + bowls of chips, cheezels, twisties . . . laid out on a pretty table display.
Trust me, watch the parents chow down on the junk & horrible frankfurts!!
I don't waste my time icing cup cakes, baking cookies or making meringues - one bite & the child is off again, remaining cake dumped in their drink. Oh the humanity!! I have seen more mess & injuries from a 5 year old fairy party than soldiers at end of deployment blow out.
party favours/ goodie bags ready to go, unnamed with extras for siblings or non-RSVP-surprises . . .
I fill a barrel with mineral waters & juice, with names on cups, the key is minimal wastage!!
We don't open gifts during the party, as i like my child to actually appreciate what they are receiving, slowly, after the hype & chaos of the party, not tear off the paper, look for a split second & launch into ripping open the next one!! I also prime my children to not say "i already have one" or anything other than "thank you very much" even when i know they don't like Ben 10, The Wiggles or Dora - it's not lying, it's diplomacy!!
involve the partyboy/ girl/ boss-for-a-day in hanging decorations (they LOVE giving direction) . . .
little details are sweet but can really add up to over all cost . . .
parties don't HAVE to have a theme, they can just be A Birthday Party!!
I love confetti but good GOD it's a nightmare, it will stain when wet & you have to factor in the over protective mum who hovers & might know the friend of a friend of a friend whose child inhaled confetti/ balloons/ smarties/ popcorn/ air . . . be prepared for instant negative feedback at every turn (or do your research & avoid inviting that child) . . .
i serve the cake 30 minutes before the party ends (drives me nuts when i arrive to collect my children from a party & the cake still hasn't been done, it drags on, flakey parents!!) WORSE, when the collecting parents aren't offerd a slice of cake in a napkin to take home, sorry, that is party etiquette 101 fail, gimme a slice of cake!!
My children are not spoilt, they share beautifully & they never ask for certain toys, advertising is wasted on them, but give one a balloon or God forbid a helium balloon floats away & it is on, i have never seen my children fight or cry over anything like they do bloody complimentary balloons, often in the car, on a highway, fuelled with sugar rage!!
Some party tips for twins - if both of my twins are invited to a party, they take a gift each, but i never expect a gift for each of them at their own party!! No point in saying "no gifts" at a child's party, that's an adult concept or saved for children truly raised that way - sponsor a goat in Africa for them, they'll understand. It's just a given you take a gift & something inexpensive or handmade is acceptable, children do value the thought too.
My son went to a Pokemon party yesterday, which i read on the invitation while confirming the house number already in their street - was he meant to be dressed up or give a gift in the Pokemon theme?? Too late. As it turned out, the Pokemon innuendo extended as far as the invitation logo & stickers on lolly bags!! Themes - nothing cuter than a bunch of 6 year old boys dressed as pirates following a treasure map to find gold, it's a lot of effort & audience participation, be prepared for uncooperative tears. I have been to some ace parties in my time but they are really for the mum, not the child . . . not a fan of children under 3 having parties beyond family guests, unless they have a genuine gang of friends from preschool or mother's group. My children don't have a party every year either, we are so often moving or in a new location, do we invite people we just for the sake of it??
I'll leave you with this party disaster gem: a few years ago when my son was in military preschool (regular preschool for 4y.o. on an Army base) . . . keep in mind my opinion on gift receiving diplomacy, now picture the gift unwrapping at a 'Come As Your Hero' party when one boy presented a plastic pirate sword gift. Cue the birthday boy's mother: who announced loudly in front of children, parents & wide eyed excited birthday boy reaching for his new awesome toy "we do not do voilence in this family." I actually thought she was joking & let out a very loud Mrs Crabapple from The Simpsons "ha". Tension. So i piped up, to break the ice "um, your husband is a fighter pilot, has he got plastic rockets on board??" & i could feel the other parents wry smiles. Not one to stop there, i said "goodness, if it's not a plastic sword, he'll use a stick or make a Lego sword anyway". The mother whipped it away & said it was going to charity. Good times!! FYI her son was the most fisty child i'd ever seen, so was she in denial or preventing more violence, whatever, her over reaction embarrassed everyone (but me). The mother who purchased the sword is a sweet mild mannered school teacher. Go figure.
As a mother of 3 girls before i experienced the roller coaster testosterone ride of a son, i had no idea they could turn a paper bag into a machine gun & while i'd never give anyone a plastic weapon, as i'm more into creative & handmade gifts . . . this was such a shocking display of manners. You save these incidents for later, as a Brady Bunch life lesson: calm explanation with your child. When i collected my son from yesterday's party, he was drinking a can of lemonade. He looked confused & said "it was a better choice than coca cola" bless his heart, he knows better. I'd never serve cans to 8 year olds, i still don't allow my high schooler any more than sip coca cola, WHY fill them up on the extra calories?? Shouldn't the party atmosphere be enough?? Love Posie
All images from My Little Day in France, some cute party goodies in my shop too.