10 Home or away?
The question is like asking whether you would rather be punched in the face or kicked in the shins. Have the party at your house and you are inviting a mob of emotionally unstable waist-high militants into your personal space. Book a private party room and you’re handing over fistfuls of cash for the privilege of some fizzy pop, a bored face painter and a pack
What you need to worry about is the party politics of who gets invited. The school might insist on an “invite everybody or invite nobody” rule, but that clearly can’t happen. The children you want to come are exactly the ones Little Timmy has forbid from entering his house. If you finally agree on a few mutually acceptable names, it turns out the parents are the same people you have been having a silent scowling war over school car parking places with.
Judge your child’s latest craze and splash out on a few pirate paper plates and a skull and crossbones tablecloth and you’re the greatest parent in the playground. Get it wrong, however, and all your child’s friends and every other parent in attendance will know you don’t listen to a word your offspring says. Everybody knows superheroes are sooooo last year.
Pass the parcel is three minutes of frenzied ripping and tearing at paper just to undo the 90 minutes of painstaking preparation and delicate wrapping you did the night before to make sure every child had a suitable treat. Musical chairs is institutionalised violence with a pop music beat. A piñata? You seriously think sugaring up a child, blindfolding them and then asking them to take a stick and swing at where they think there is a paper bull filled with candy is a good idea?
Greed and manners are both something that can be taught at an early age. Which is most important to you for your child? The masses who turn up to your child’s party may well turn up bearing gifts. Stop a lifetime of a grabbing sense of privilege and make sure your child says a personal “thank you” and shows some gratitude to every one of them. If you don’t, you’re creating a monster. You’ve been warned, so don’t come running to us next time he gets the same present twice and isn’t afraid to shout about it.
Every Instagram post you have made so far this year shows your child eating peeled carrot sticks, homemade hummus and a bowl of grapes as your snack of choice. You know deep down that is what you should serve up at party time. You know just as well that you’re going to order in a few pizzas, rip open a sack of crisps, pour out a bowl of candy, drain a vat of soda and take the easy option.
Whatever food you decide on make sure it is something you can eat cold. Because you just know that you and your family will be picking at the leftovers for days.
A true friend is going to be there to help you on the big day. Many parents will drop off their kids and grab the opportunity to disappear for an hour or two, before returning for pick-up at home time. They’re not true friends. Don’t judge. You would do the same thing. The true parental friend will be on hand to help out with every leaking child, sugar tantrum and sibling dispute.
2 Party bags
In the eye of a child the party bag is the greatest currency on Earth. Forget the fact that they are just a few candies, a miniature torch, a yo-yo, some stickers, a bubble blower and a badge with googly eyes in a carrier bag. This is like gold to a wide-eyed child. Don’t ask us why. We don’t know. That is just the way it is. Take the party bags seriously and kids will be impressed.
1 Should we bother?
You are paying for it. You are cleaning up afterwards. There is every chance you will get a headache at the party. But it is not about you. It is about the little child smiling sleepily at you at the end of the day. Actually, after the sugar intake and ear-splitting day of screaming they may be a little too buzzed to smile or be sleepy for a while. But in a few days they will come down and be grateful for the party.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He really hates the hokey cokey.