There are three large events looming on my calendar this year. Three events I dread and love all at the same time.
While there is nothing greater than the excitement and joy on my children’s face when its their birthday there is also nothing more painful than organising their birthday party.
From the expense, to the guest list, to the venue – it’s enough to make you turn to bribery to skip the whole event all together.
(But wouldn’t you just prefer the cash darling?)
This year I am pleading – can we all just make things simple? Can we cut back the extravagance and playground politics and establish a few ground rules?
Can we – for all of our sanity – throw ideas like gift registries and party planners to the scrap heap?
I am begging you.
My plea for birthday parties.
1. Don’t be selective.
When kids are in the first few years of primary school if you can then invite the whole class.
At some schools it’s a rule – if you are throwing a party either invite the whole class or don’t hand the invitations out at school. There is nothing sadder than the look on a six-year-old’s face when everyone else in the class is clutching a bright pink envelope except for them.
If you don’t want to invite the whole class or can’t afford to then fine – but invite the kids via email or give the invitations to the teacher to hand out.
2. Back away from the party planner websites.
It’s a kid’s party, not a wedding. Can we all agree to tone down the parties for a while? A backyard dress-up party. A few chocolate crackles, some watermelon cut in wedges and pass-the-parcel.
That’s what I call a party.
3. Cakes are made to be eaten, not Instagramed.
(And if I buy if from Wollies then praise me for my timesaving skills don’t judge me)
Look let me say if you are one of these cake gurus who can create Elsa’s ice palace out of a few musk sticks and some blue icing then I salute you but I for one am not.
There are years when I’ve tried, only to end up with some kind of modern art interpretative version of a Women’s Weekly birthday cake.
These days I just buy a slab from Woollies, lather it in that store bought icing and throw a box of Smarties on it.
It is demolished every time.
4. Can we establish some ground rules about bringing siblings?
If it’s in a park or backyard just let the party hosts know – don’t expect the tag along to be fed or given a lolly bag.
If its in a playcentre or an activity that the host paid for then book yourself a babysitter. Siblings are not welcome.
5. If your child has allergies or dietary restrictions then feed them before you come or send along some food.
We will try and provide something suitable if you let us know, but it is only two hours they won’t starve.
6. Ban the nuts.
Rocky Road, peanut brittle, peanut butter cups are all not necessary at a birthday party. If you have a large group of kids and siblings then there is no need to have food with nuts in it, even if the party boy only eats peanut butter sandwiches he can wait.
7. If parents hang around don’t expect to be fed.
Find the kitchen, grab yourself a glass of water and blend into the background. You are only here to supervise your child not to have morning tea.
8. Party bags are meant to be fun, not Pintrest-worthy.
Let’s ditch the organic, sugar free home made paleo balls neatly packed in a twist of hemp cloth and go back to basics.
Nothing makes a bunch of five-year olds quite as happy as leaving a party with a bunch of jelly snakes, a few Fantales, a whizz fizz and a cheap 50c whistle from the party store in a brown paper bag.
9. A gift registry? You must be kidding.
Last year there was an emerging trend for gift registries for kid’s birthday parties. A chain of major toy stores brought in an online store whereby parents could select each and every Monster High doll their little precious desired and helpfully point the invited guests in the right direction.
Acceptable? No no no no no no no. Yeah it’s tricky finding the right gift for the right kid but they are kids. If they aren’t happy with a soccer ball or a box of paints then they don’t deserve it.
10. Don’t post photos of other people’s kids on social media unless they are okay with it.
Over the past few years I have noticed less and less people posting images of their children on social media, its come about with the rise of social media and the subsequent rise of knowledge of the lack of privacy there can be.
As a general rule don’t post pictures of other people’s children on social media without asking them. Take pictures of the cake, your own kid, the dog in a party hat but not the other kids.
Try making these delicious ice-cream sandwiches. Even the big kids will love them. Post continues after video..
11. Don’t expect us parents to trek to the other side of town.
Last year my son had three parties which were an hours commute away. Of course that waterslide park looked like fun but did I really want to spend my entire day ferrying one child to a party and hanging about while he was there?
In a bid to outdo the last eighth birthday party it seems some parents are in a constant rush to go further afield for more adventure, greater thrills and something never before seen.
It’s great you want to make your kid happy but can you do it without inviting the rest of us along for the ride?
What party etiquette would you like to see enforced?