I had my one and only child when I was 40 at a time when a child at 40 was not all that common. Thrilled and terrified, I wanted to make every moment of my child’s childhood perfect, including every birthday party. Did I succeed? No. Did I agonize? Yes. Did I survive? Somehow. I learned a lot the hard way, but I also learned some things the easy way—from other moms.
I recommend the easy way. In that spirit, here are a few headache-saving party pointers that make for happy kids (and a happy you):
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Although this may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to keep increasing your child’s guest list for fear of offending someone who may retaliate by making your child, and by extension YOU, miserable. Do you invite only classmates? Neighbor kids? The tumbling team? How do you choose? I don’t know. I’m just saying, keep it to ten or less including your own child. Trust me! This is a good rule of thumb no matter what age they are.
It’s easy to get caught up in party planning when you come up with an idea your child (and you) loves. If you’re having a swim party, for example, make sure all the invitees can swim, or be willing to give extra attention to those who can’t. Make sure the activities you plan are age appropriate. Small children have short attention spans and will get frustrated if a game is too complicated. Older children may bore easily or need more physical activities interspersed with less-active games.
There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours filling up water balloons for a giant afternoon fight only to have them all disappear in less than five minutes! Or spending time learning to make friendship bracelets only to find out that everyone made dozens of them at their last Girl Scout meeting and no one wants to participate. It’s okay if you don’t get through all the activities you’ve planned. You can always save them for next time or share them with another mom.
No matter how accurate the weather predictors claim to be, they lie! Constantly! Maybe they don’t mean to. Maybe they’re just overly optimistic. In any case, don’t trust them! EVER! If you are planning an outdoor barbeque, be prepared to take it inside if necessary. Be sure you have a rainout plan.
One mom I know made the mistake of handing out goodie bags too early. The result? Multi-child, sugar-high bedlam! Who needs that? Save the cake, ice cream and candy for the end of the party when everyone is ready to go home. Let their own parents deal with them.