Childrens parties - fun in theory, an absolute bloody nightmare in practice. For the mum arranging it, at least...
When it looked like my daughter was going to pass the half-decade mark while we were on holiday during half-term, I punched the sky in sheer joy: no cutting crusts off dozens of jam sandwiches for this slap dash mum! Then at the last minute I had a change of heart; the guilt crept in and the invites came out.
I now realise there’s more to organising a kid’s party than stocking up on sausage rolls and wrapping a pass-the-parcel. So if you don’t want to fail epically, like me, here’s how to navigate the minefield that is a kiddy’s party — and make it out alive...
Why has no one RSVPd?! (Credit: Getty)
1. The hall’s booked, invites are out, entertainer’s on standby: so why the radio silence?
Starting to panic, you’ll wonder how you’re meant to know how many paper plates to order without numbers. Then, remembering all the other parties YOU haven’t RSVPd for until three days before the event you thank karma for being a total, utter cow.
2. Divert all calls to voicemail on morning of party
There’ll always be some muppet who assumes you're sat around painting your nails in the hours before kick-off. Whether they’re checking it’s okay to send their sprog as Princess Anna or the invitation’s lost and they’ve forgotten timings, the call you get when you’re buckling under the weight of grated cheese will not be a welcome one.
3. On the subject of catering, grit your teeth as you’re chopping carrots
Remember they’re for show. What child in their Haribo-addled mind is going to choose a healthy orange stick over a party ring? Make peace with the fact they are heading straight for the compost and don't get upset about it.
The entertainer's not drunk... is he?! (Credit: Getty)
4. Perfect your kid’s poker face
Aunty Alison might have impeccable taste, but just because she dresses like she’s stepped off the pages of Vogue and she’s excited to pass on some of that chicness via the contents of a string-tied, brown paper parcel, doesn’t mean her enthusiasm is will be reciprocated. No Pop Up Pirate? No smiley. Practice the game face.
5. You should have gone with a recommendation for the entertainer
The two-star rating on Clonger The Clown’s profile ought to have set alarm bells ringing, but as you were already over budget - and there was no scratch and sniff option when you made the online booking - you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope that the whisky fumes on his breath are all hangover.
6. Beware of the adult saboteurs
Yes, it’s going to be chaos, but don’t assume the kids will be the worst behaved in the room. There’ll be mums talking over Milo’s magic show, dad’s inhaling twenty quid’s worth of helium and grannies peeling back the cling film to help themselves to chocolate biccies. The grownups are the ones you’ll really need to keep your eye on.
NO ONE will eat the carrots - deal with it (Credit: Getty)
7. You’ll never get the catering numbers right
You’ll have made a good guess at the amount of food needed (given the lack of replies). And the two-thirds accepting rule will serve you well… That is until Bedraggled Mum from school turns up unannounced with an extra 25 siblings. Brilliant!
8. And you can bet your last Pringle it’s one of her kids who’ll pile his plate higher than Kilimanjaro
It won’t be the chubby kid. Or the malnourished one. No, just the selfish little so ’n’ so whose eyes are greedier than his tummy. Still, not even he touches the carrots.
9. There must be no random selection when it comes to pass the parcel
Especially if a sugar-based treat lurks between each layer. With finger firmly over the pause button, keep tabs on breaks between songs because, if Little Johnnie’s already e-numbered up to the eyeballs off his first Maoam, there’ll be no bringing him down after a second.
There will be tears (Credit: Getty)
10. Bump at your peril
You’ve often wondered where your back problems stem from, and watching thirty kids drop to the ground when the music stops is one of those lightbulb moments. You KNOW musical bumps is doing them no favours but, unlike ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ that captivated about three of them, everyone’s playing along nicely so you won’t want to spoil the peace fun.
11. Watch out for waterworks when the sore loser gets knocked out
Throw sweets at the problem. You don’t have time to deal with this wet blanket, and they’ll be off your hands by the time the sugar comedown hits.
12. At this point you're regretting putting your kid in their Sunday Best
When you’re five, knee-sliding is compulsory in any village hall. So, in future you’ll expect holey tights at worst, the grubby stains of 635 WI coffee mornings at best. Or you’ll just stick them in their old Book Day costume.
Buy a supermarket cake. Seriously (Credit: Getty)
13. Despite being a perfectly good Paw Patrol cake in Tescos for under a tenner... ...for some unfathomable reason you loaded your trolley with enough toxic-looking icing to equip a Bake-off semi-final, and produced something that could well have come out of the Play Doh Fun Factory. Triple the cost too. Pinterest has a lot to answer for.
14. Beware of Crafty Mum ‘friend’ when it’s time to light the candles
‘You did your best’, she’ll say in her best condescending tone, grimacing at your creation. Incidentally, her kid’s the only one who ate the carrots.
15. There’s always one who tries to blow out the candles before the end of the singsong
You’ll work out who this is during the Hokey Cokey.
Home time can't come soon enough (Credit: Getty)
16. Party bags spell home time. The relief!
Stickers and pencils and lollies, oh my. You’ve spent a small fortune (and a lot of time) buying tat no one really wants. Take solace in the fact that everybody else’s car now looks like the inside of yours. Then kick yourself (real hard) when you go to the next party and Smart Mum instead hands out books.
17. You survived! You’ve cleared up and schlepped half a tonne of presents from A to B.
Give yourself a pat on the back and immediately open the fridge door. You’ve already thought to have a bottle of wine chilling, right? It might be just gone lunch but by god you’re going to need it.