kids

How to throw a birthday party for your child… and survive.

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Birthday parties are so much fun.

A celebration. Kids working off all that steam.

Laughter.

Joy.

All that uneaten cake that gets thrust into your hand while your child runs off, that you end up eating anyway.

There is nothing better for kids than an all-hands-in-at-once bowl of Cheezels and a plate of party pies that you can double dip into the sauce.

I just love kids’ parties… when they are at someone else’s house.

But with three kids it inevitably keeps on cropping up that I’m the host.

My son turns seven in just a few weeks, and despite my trying to re-direct him to less do-it-yourself options he just wants a party at home.

Wish me luck.

There's nothing like a child's birthday party at home. Image: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Here is my survival guide:

1. I’m only inviting those we really need.

It’s tempting to invite the whole class as I don’t want to be responsible for hurting the feelings of any child, but the thought of having 25 small grubby bodies destroying our home leaves me with hives, so we have decided to just invite the boys to my son’s party.

That’s still 12 small boys hell bent on destroying everything in their path having as much fun as possible.

(The fact is that each of those 12 kids will bring their own unwanted invitees, like worms and nits along with them anyway, so really who knows how many guests I am inviting?)

 2. Get your kids to help with the food preparation.

 No, don’t worry about all those fingers in the lolly bags or helping make the chocolate crackles, parties are about sharing and joining in.

Stick to the traditional. There are a few basics that are really easy like chocolate crackles and jelly cups.

Let your kids have fun helping you make them.

Stick to the traditional, kid's love cake for a reason. Image: iStock.

3. Relax your food rules.

We all want to do the best thing by our kids by keeping them healthy, but parties are a time to let them just enjoy themselves.

If you have built up a structure around the party to deal with any unwanted nasties (like nits or worms) and if you make sure they get plenty of exercise and eat lots of healthy foods on a usual basis, then don’t worry too much about “all that sugar” on the day.

Just make sure you have lots of fruit in a bowl so that they can all help themselves.

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4. Entertain them.

 The worst things are idle kids, so make sure you have planned ahead some entertainment.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive entertainer, it can just be a sandpit in the backyard and a pile of beach toys.

You could do some face painting yourself, or let the kids do it to each other… just watch out for all those fingers in the face paint.

Let your child become their alter ego with face paint. Image: iStock.

Or some old fashioned games like apple bobbing, or pin the tail on the donkey.

Even craft parties are good. Finger painting, biscuit decorating. Nothing needs to cost a lot.

5. Prepare your family health-wise.

Parties can be exhausting, even for us adults, so make sure everyone gets an early night the day before. Also stock up on some de-worming chocolate squares just in case those unwanted guests decide to stay, and make sure there is plenty of water available to quench the thirst of those busy little bodies.

6. Outsource the cake.

Unless you are a whizz in the kitchen, don’t get all bothered by the cake. Most of the major supermarkets make a slab you can just decorate yourself with some store bought icing and some smarties.

The fact is most of them end up being mushed and smushed and hand eaten by the kids anyway. They just want to watch someone blow out a candle and lick some icing from their fingers.

(Er, or someone else’s fingers…)

Unless you're willing to unleash your Betty Draper, leave it to the experts. Image: Lionsgate Television.

7. Keep them outside.

Save your sanity and keep the party outdoors if the weather allows. Even a small courtyard is fine if you have enough activities planned for them.

8. Have a bit extra.

You will always get the uninvited guest (and I’m not just talking about the germy type now). A sibling or two, a couple of toddlers who waddle around and want to join in the fun. If you keep things simple and cater to more than you think will make it, it’s easy to include them. Make up a few extra lolly bags, have a bit of extra fruit and no one will feel left out.

So, the cake has been...well, bought, the party bags have been packed, and the de-worming chocolate squares purchased.

We are ready.

Wish me luck.

What are your best tips for surviving child parties?

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