The school year has started and so has the onslaught of party invitations. Not for you of course, no, your lovely little kiddywinks who – up until very recently had the social engagements of a gnat – are now being invited to at least one birthday party every weekend. This will continue for the next couple of years at least, until they start to have smaller dos (which cost the same as the bigger ones, don’t be fooled).
However, right now, if you have a 3-7 year old (I have two) you have now reached the pinnacle of party planning. This is a minefield, it is stressful, it is competitive, and above all else it is… A NECESSITY. Yep, you’ve read that right. There is almost zero chance that now your children are in school and they are invited to other little friend’s parties, that yours will settle for anything that doesn’t include 30 of their closest friends.
So, I’ve put together a few suggestions of how to cope:
Find the delete button
Look up every element you wish to use in your darling child’s birthday party on Pinterest – piñatas, themed cupcakes, bunting. Pin it to a board. And then delete the board. DON’T LOOK AT THE BOARD. All that Pinterest board will do is highlight your failures as a parent. Your cake won’t look like that, the piñata will be misshaped and don’t even START me on the face painting. It won’t work. Don’t do it. Don’t.
This also goes for any of the cake/party/children books and manuals you’ve bought for inspiration (I have six such books). Ignore them all.
How to party
Try and keep the loot out of the children’s way – one friend had a party where the children found the party bags before the party had barely begun, which then meant the noisy toys in the bags were blown for two hours.
Keep the food simple – another friend ended up getting Dominoes to deliver food as the oven had packed up, the food didn’t come on time and the kids went home before 20 pizzas arrived.
Pass the parcel is a terrible invention, if you HAVE to do it, remember these three things –
1) wrap each layer in different paper to the previous one, so the children don’t try and hack through half of the paper in one go (my first error)
2) have enough prizes for all the children going (or you’ll end up with a child in tears – my second error) and,
3) play pop music with no quiet pauses and don’t put your mother in law in charge of the pause button or one child will get three prizes (yep, my fail again).
Oh, and all children must win all games. Or there’ll be tears (again).
Piñatas are evil*
We had children suffer nightmares following the massacre of a Piñata donkey. After all 30 children had beaten the crap out of it, it still hadn’t exploded, so my husband ripped it apart with his bare hands. The donkey’s innards spilled out everywhere, to great bewilderment from the children, until they realised it was just sweets and plastic toys. The image of a grown man ripping apart a cheerful rainbow decorated donkey is not one to be repeated…
*Unless they’re in the shape of Peppa Pig, and in that case you’ll get a great deal of pleasure out of smacking that little piggy.
Never make a Postman Pat cake
Or any other character cake which requires you to be a master craftsman and have a degree in architecture. I spent EIGHT hideously painful hours filled with blood, sweat and copious tears attempting to make Postman Pat’s van as a cake. Before those eight hours, I researched the cake for hours on the internet, bought all the ingredients – some from a specific cake supplier. I made the cake as per instructions…and then… had to carve a sponge, mould icing, paint icing, create f*cking wing mirrors. I was even Googling the correct colour of yellow for the registration plate at one point. It was a boiling hot day in June, the icing was melting, the colour was dripping and I caught myself howling ‘why oh why??????’. The moment it had to be cut I actually had to step away from the horror of seeing all my hard work disappear so quickly. (And the sponge was dry).
Have a mantra
Repeat to yourself ‘it’s just for two hours’ over and over if you’re getting stressed, that annoying friend of your kids has thrown more food at you and you’ve just emptied a cup of Ribena over the floor.
On second thoughts…
If all this sounds too much like hard work, do the following –
Hire a village hall
Hire a children’s entertainer
Buy a cake
Pour yourself an enormous glass of wine and congratulate yourself on what an amazing parent you are.