Image Credit: Viktor Forgacs
So the day has finally arrived when you have to run your first children's party.
The local play centres and village halls are all booked up and you can't find an available entertainer for love nor money.
You will soon find out that there is rather a lot more to throwing a children's party that ordering a bunch of party supplies and baking a birthday cake, but with these tips you can hold the party at home, your kids will love it and everyone will have a good time.
So here is How To Throw A Childrens Party At Home - and stay sane!
Firstly and foremost, please don't worry.
I know, easier said than done, but if you stick a group of kids in a room together with balloons and toys, feed them junk food and fizzy pop, get them running around a bit and send them home with a balloon, a party bag and a slice of cake they will all feel that they have had a good time.
So anything else that you do just puts a bit of polish on that.
Don't invite everybody in your child's class.
Apart from making you appear desperate to impress, you probably don't have the space and can't cope with that many children. Remember teachers have training and have to pass exams before they are left looking after 30 kids - and they probably have a teaching assistant too.
First and foremost include the day, date and time of the party, the full address of the venue with post code for sat nav users, and your phone number.
Next, do make sure people know if you want a reply. Sadly, my experience suggests that few people understand the meaning of 'RSVP' any more and even adding a tear-off slip is also a bit too subtle for some people.
If the party is during a school holiday, you might want to highlight that, otherwise at least one person won't realise and will tell you that their little one can't come because that it clashes with nursery/playgroup/school.
Anyone who does not reply to the invitation will probably not turn up for the party, even if they do accept verbally when you look them in the eye and say "is your child coming to the birthday party?".
If their mother is too dozy or disorganised to reply to your invitation they will probably be too dozy or disorganised to remember that their kid is going to a party.
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You can bet that one mum will turn up an hour early, while you are hoovering with one hand, trying to find the party outfit you had planned for your kid and still cleaning up from breakfast.
They will smile sweetly and say "Not early am I?", shove their offspring into your house and run off before you can get a word out.
And they will pick their kid up half an hour after eveyone else has gone.
Now be honest with yourself; if you have no experience of looking after a group of children, get a friend who loves kids to help you with the party.
I was really lucky the first time that I held a party at home, because a friend of mine invited herself round to help me, for which I am eternally grateful. She knew how to get all the kids to join in and happily started an impromptu game of Simple Simon when things start to flag.
Plan lots more games that you think you have time for. And then be prepared to improvise by reading them a story when you run out of things to do.
Make the first game a lively joining in game like 'musical statues'. This will help the shy ones get warmed up.
Be flexible. Be prepared to ditch a game that is not working out.
Image Credit: Brook Lark
If you don't want one kid to leave the party crying their eyes out, make sure everybody wins at least one prize. Save one game until the end for which you can choose the winners, such as sleeping lions. Then anyone who has not won anything else can be voted as the best at lying still with their eyes shut.
And the other kids will never know - if they notice, they must have been cheating...
Don't serve any salad at the party. No-one will eat it. (This goes for most grown-up parties too).
Remember to get a party bag for your own child and any siblings as well as for all the guests, or there will be tears, I promise....
Those are the things that I learnt running my first party. I got better at it after a few times, but once the kids got past toddler age I tended to have parties at the local play centre when possible. Much easier and no clearing up afterwards!
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!