Birthday parties. When I plan them, I love them. When we receive an invite to one, I immediately start to silently cry and pray that when I look on the calendar, we've already got something on.
Excited kids, small spaces, not enough direction, too lengthy, added sugar? It's a shit combo and I despise it.
Excited kids you can't avoid. Fine. So let's see what else we can do to minimise the agony.
Small spaces? No. Take them somewhere open like a play park or a splurge on a larger venue and let the fuckers run riot IN A LARGE SPACE. This brings the odds of my child whacking someone else in the face whilst playing 'chase' exponentially right down. I don't think there can be a price put on this bonus. Go wild, hire the larger venue.
Not enough direction? This isn't a chance for you to sit and mingle, dear hostess. If you've ignored my first piece of advice and crammed us all into this tiny space then please, for the love of all things holy, go right ahead and plan the crap out of the next 90 minutes. I want my child to be so busy and so on task that he hasn't even got time to breathe let alone contemplate sticking his fingers in that bespoke birthday cake. Games, food, singing, party bags, done. Jump from one thing to the next. Don't lose their attention for a millisecond, you can have a drink of wine later!
Too lengthy? Know this, 90 minutes is MORE than enough time to fill. Any more is madness. That's all I have to say on the matter. On your own head be it...
Added sugar? We get it. You've planned it, paid for it, been up all night making small, triangular sandwiches that will inevitably wind up schmushed and in the bin, you've sworn at party bags, you're pissed off that your husband put this bastard idea into your kid's head and then sat back and let you deal with it all single-handedly. We've been there. But please don't take it out on us by giving Haribo as prizes (or even as non-prizes!) for each and every game to each and every child. Stickers work. Or stationery items. Or even just a massive cheer. The children will hate you but their parents will admire you and talk about your bravery at the school gate in hushed, reverent tones.
It's the future, people. Embrace it. I implore you!
(Disclaimer: we have indeed spent our Saturday afternoon at a busy birthday party in a small village hall that went on for 2.5 hours and involved a lot of Haribo and Maoam. I am also a complete bitch who should stop moaning and be grateful that someone was kind enough to plan an event of such magnitude for all the children in Kindergarten. I appreciate planning and hosting parties isn't fun for most people. This post was written post-party and pre-wine. I'm sure I'll feel differently by the time bedtime rolls around!!)