Hosting, that is. I love going to other kids’ ones – your child is entertained, has the company of lots of little mates, and you get to have a chat and a cup of tea/wine while you look on at someone else having to tidy up the squashed cake into the carpet.
But throwing your own? The most enthusiasm I can summon is the relief you feel when it’s over and no one has had a major falling out/been rushed to a&e/bought the same present/had some hideous allergic reaction due to your not checking food ingredient lists first.
I am not a killjoy. Well, not a huge one, anyway. But there are so many areas where it can go wrong that I had some sleepless nights in the run up to last Saturday that weren’t entirely due to B and his wakefulness.
The task is to work out which children your child likes, which parents you like, and how the various children and parents will get on. Plus if you’ve moved around, you’ll probably be bringing together children and adults who have never met before. I got around this thorny conundrum by inviting parents I liked, hoping that if any fights broke out among the kids I could always drown my sorrows with some like-minded people.
In the event, it went well – T was very happy, the kids played nicely, and the only notable disaster was his little brother eating a massive chunk of the birthday cake a few hours previously (tip: when this happens, don’t bother to rectify it, just dim the lights when presenting it and keep the eaten chunk facing you. The child won’t notice and the parents will just think you’re eccentric/hard up/blind, but won’t let on either way).
I woud love to be really casual and relaxed about throwing parties. Whenever I’ve held gatherings for my own birthday or Christmas I’ve steadied my nerves with so many vodkas I have little memory of the actual event. This, understandably, is frowned upon when hosting parties for preschoolers. Luckily I have nice friends who were forgiving about the lack of interesting party games or inventive finger food (or at least had the grace to appear so).
But I suspect the game changes once they hit school and you have to invite kids/parents who don’t know you well enough to suggest you present the cake with a massive chunk missing as a pac man one. I now see why so many parents just throw some money at the problem and let the soft play centre/Mac Donald’s clear up the mess. I’ll probably be among their number next year. Or, better still, we could go on holiday and avoid the whole sorry issue. It’s a coward’s way out, but sometimes that way sanity lies…