Yesterday was the Bug’s 6th birthday party. It’s tough having a birthday in the middle of the summer holidays, and there is always someone who can’t make it to the party, so we try really hard to make sure my brother has a good time. Last year we made some mistakes, so this year we opted for something entirely different. He enjoyed both parties, but the adults needed wine with their curly ham sandwiches on both occasions. So with the benefit of hindsight, here are the 5 mistakes we think you should avoid:
Do’s and don’ts for boys birthday parties
Dont: invite the entire class to a party on the last day of summer term. Don’t imagine in your wildest fantasies that you will be able to control thirty 5-year-olds on a sugar high, in 36 degree heat. They feel liked caged lions given free rein over the savannah for the first time in 3 months. Wild. Happy. Free. Totally the opposite of how you will feel.
Don’t: imagine that inviting five 6-year-olds to a pyjama and movie party will be much better. Small boys don’t do sitting. They do football with balloons, catapulting with lego, mountain-climbing on shelves, trampolining on beds, and cushion-tossing.
Don’t: put an older sister in charge of games. Older sisters are bossy. Small boys like this. They see it as an opportunity to goad, to taunt, to behave more badly, and so attract the overheated wrath of an 8-year-old girl. They will break into her bedroom and trash the joint. She will scream orders at them until, beetroot-faced, she breaks down in tears of defeat and frustration. At which point you will have to manage not only 6 gleeful terrors, but also an outraged pre-teen.
Don’t: leave water pistols and a full paddling pool in the garden. You will then have the added stress of possible drowning to monitor. And parents will be forced to strip their child, before strapping him into a car-seat naked apart from his wet pants. Ouch.
Don’t: serve cake for dessert. There will be an argument over who gets the slice with the P, the marzipan moshling, the Skylanders symbol, or the biggest piece of icing. Slice it covertly and send it home in a paper napkin. Your mother was right about that 30 years ago. Ditto the sweets. All sugar should be avoided until the party guests are safely in the company of their own parents.
There are, however, some tips we have learned on how to minimise the stress of boys birthday parties, and make sure everyone has a good time:
Do: have a theme. It focuses the attention, if only for 3 minutes. Every bit of focus you can get is consolation for your shattered nerves, so be it a Moshi Monster costume, or a Skylanders obsession, milk it for all you’re worth!
Do: allow your child to open his presents in front of his friends. People like to see your appreciation when you see their gift. Also it will fill a good 15 minutes of the party, leaving less time for furniture climbing. Make sure your child says thank you – that way you get to avoid remembering who gave what, and the tiresome job of nagging him to write his thank you notes.
Do: have a food contingency plan. Allow for the fact that 3 types of pizza may not cover it. Some children don’t like pizza at all apparently, and may ask for a grilled lamb chop. We know one who doesn’t eat chocolate! Make sure you have plenty of bread in the house. Can’t go wrong with that.
Do: spend hours making a cake. Your child will love you for it. His guests will think you’re the best Mum in the world. They’ll think he is the coolest boy in the world. It will make them forget that you told them off for climbing up the shelving unit, and they will later tell their parents that you’re a really cool mum, and not the bossy harridan you generally portray on playdates. It will also give you a shred of self-esteem to cling onto when you lie in bed berating yourself for shouting a lot at your son’s party.
Do: stock up on wine. You will require it approximately 5 minutes into the party, but wait until the last half hour before you pour a glass. That way you can appear relaxed and celebratory when parents arrive to collect their charges. Don’t make the mistake of downing the glass and pouring another, or parents will frown and whisper on the playground next term.
Ready? Set. Bring it on! What tips do you have for boys birthday parties?