So, this was the first year I hosted a proper (big-gish) birthday bash for Little Man. And I now get what all the buzz /stress /planning for a kids' birthday party is all about. No, this wasn't Little Man's first birthday – we celebrated that in USA with family; perfect, as I wanted – and for his second, I had a small party at home, with a Lightning McQueen cake (his favourite at the time), balloons and Little Man's close friends. He still didn't 'get' what a birthday was, but I wanted to do something special for him on his day.
Last week, Little Man turned three (How? When? Where did my baby go?). Husband and I wanted to do something bigger this year, since he now understood it was a special day (involving lots of gifts) and was pretty excited about it. Of course, we realised he was still little in a sense, and didn't want to have one of those grand bashes or excruciatingly expensive kiddie parties at soft play areas/ museums / children's centres. That, we shall keep for when he's older and can enjoy them to the fullest.
And so, without realising it, I plunged into the 'Planning my kid's birthday party' abyss. I say abyss because it never ends (the older they get, the more the demands for a particular kind of party. Or parties!!!). And there is just SO MUCH planning involved in hosting a kids birthday party!!! Now I know…
My BIGGEST MISTAKE was not waking up earlier. I remember hearing mums talking about their kids parties in June when the birthday was only in August, and thinking 'Wtf is she doing, that's insane!!!', but I get you now, you well-organised mum. Forgive me, this was my first time…
I woke up less than a month to the big day and thought it will be a piece of cake. (Cake – that's a HUGE part of the party, mind you!!!) Little did I know how wrong I was…
So, here's what it takes to host a kids birthday party…
This is the foundation. Without a place (with decent enough space – crawlers need to move around and toddlers and pre-schoolers need to run!) you can't plan the rest. If you've got a big living room and a garden, you're sorted. Other options include hosting it at a soft play area, a farm, a museum and the like (though I personally feel your kid needs to be old enough to actually enjoy these). If you have a summer baby, consider yourself lucky. Just head to your local park, choose the biggest tree, put up a few balloons, get lots of mats and sandwiches and squash and a ball and a frisbee and you have a party! Or, hire a private room in a restaurant. With my getting into the action so late, we were lucky we even got the last option!
2. Food and Drinks
You have to think about the children, their parents and their infant siblings (if any). So that's three types of food and drinks! Besides the usual vegetarian/ non-vegetarian/ allergies et al. Not one simple menu.
No child wants a boring round or square cake. It has to be his or her favourite character – nothing else will do! (And these bloody cakes are bloody expensive!!!)
4. Theme and Decorations
Your kid will want a theme. Pirates or Fireman Sam or Peppa Pig or Frozen. And so, everything must revolve around that theme – from invites to decorations to the cake of course to the wrapping paper for return gifts. And yes, the paper napkins and plastic glasses too!!! That's a hell of a lot of co-ordination!
Balloons, buntings and banners!
Kids need to be entertained. All through the party. They are not going to sit around sipping juice and tucking into sandwiches talking about the weather or politics. If it's in the outdoors, go with a bouncy castle or ball pit or soft play for smaller crawlers. Keeps 'em occupied and gets them out of your hair.
If its indoors, hire an entertainer (another ridiculous expense) who will sing, dance, bring the disco lights and the bubble machine (every kid's sure shot favourite) and play games to keep the mini guests busy.
6. Party Bags/ Party Favours
Not to be taken lightly. Kids love party bags and wait for them. As do parents, as it helps soothe frayed nerves / appease tantrums over having to leave the party. Yes, those li'l bags add to the cost too.
7. The opening-the-gifts bit…
It's not over even when the party's over. Your hyper, over-excited, over-tired child who has had seven cupcakes and five pieces of cake (sugar rush is an understatement here) is on a mission. To open his/her presents. Each and every one of them. Immediately after the party.
You are on a mission to stop your child from opening ALL of them that very night. I mean, your overfilled-with-toys house now has 17 more humongous things (a car garage, a race-track, more lego pieces for you to trip over in the middle of the night…) and it would be nice to space them out over… a year? Ok, a few months at least. But that is next to impossible. You cannot fight a hyper, over-excited, over-tired child who also happens to be the birthday boy or girl! So, like the above six points, you surrender. And thank your stars that this won't come around again for another 365 days!!!
Little Man's big gifts
PS: I'm still a novice, I've got a long way to go, but I'll be better (and more prepared) next year. At least I'm not a birthday party virgin anymore!!!
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