Unless you’ve been extravagant in the entertainment of your children, you should find that those under five, at least, are surprisingly easily to impress, on the party front. A more experienced mom friend of mine once informed me that all they really require is to be put in a room together and told it’s a party… and by god, will they party. So, it’s unnerving to see the standards rising so far beyond a balloon and a packet of smarties that parents are beginning to dread what should merely be an opportunity for you to observe some adorable interactions between your birthday boy and his motley crew. When they’re old enough to see through your web of lies – “a batman party is a party where the balloons are yellow and black!” – you’ll have little choice but to pay for twenty-eight-year-olds to have their nails done; so for now, relish in nature’s greatest gift to parents – that would be popcorn – and for goodness sake, sit down and have a coffee.
After these, my key party pointers – A. Have your party at 11am (to save being asked nine thousand times when it’s going to start and make the other parents love you for giving them a little brunch time); B. Keep numbers to twice your kid’s age (so, eight small guests at a four-year-old’s party) – any more and everyone gets overwhelmed; and C. Ditch the take-home goodie bags (the last thing any partied-out child needs is more sugar) – here are five hacks to simplify your party planning…
1. Small children will never tire of latex bags full of air
Aufeminine.com; ohhappyday.com; karaspartyideas.com
You could make bunting; you could order fancy tassels off Etsy… or you could buy a few packets of balloons at your corner shop, blow them up with the last of your breath and throw them into the party room. Balloons make even the most boring of spaces look fun – and (for some odd reason) they never fail to entertain a little person.
2. Sugarcrafting a My Little Pony cake violates your human rights
thisheartofmineblog.com; etsy.com; butterlustblog.com
Seriously, labouring over a wedding cake is one thing – it’s on show for the whole event, features in the wedding album and will be appreciated by your discerning guest list – but who are you trying to impress, here? Your four year old may have requested a Batman/Elsa cake, but really they’ll be just as happy (if not happier) with an action figure plonked on top of a plain old sponge… plus, they get to keep it, afterwards.
3. Kids party entertainers are sinister as bejesus
pieceofcakeparties.com.au; alexandalexa.com; madlystylishevents.blogspot.ie
It might seem like an easy way to take the terror out of keeping 15 wild pre-schoolers occupied for two hours, but these guys are expensive and usually render most of their audience in a state of nervous paralysis. Children have the best fun when you just leave them to come up with it on their own – and for kids, this young, a maximum of one short game (where everyone wins), is all you should bother with.
4. If the dinosaur hat fits, dance around in it, kiddo
Livingly.com; birthdaypartyideas4u.com; craftandcreativity.com
Cheap and easy to DIY, party hats can be brilliant ice-breakers, sparking a stream of creativity that will make the rest of the shindig happen all by itself. Choose something your child can help you make the week before and watch the pride on their face as their friends enjoy the fruits of their labour.
5. Rubbish food for them = rubbish time for you
Gimmesomeoven.com; melissaesplin.com; babble.com
While opening multiple multipacks are certainly the fastest way to cater for your a hungry mob, filling your innocent charges full of E numbers will make for a much less pleasant party environment. These things are bound to happen: someone will puke; someone will cry; the parents will curse you when you give them back a gremlin to deal with for the afternoon.
Main image credit: ikea.com