More recently, I've come to an accommodation with children's birthday parties and some, recently, I've even enjoyed. Just in case there are other people out there for whom children's parties aren't their favourite activity. Here are my thoughts on reducing stress and managing children's birthday parties.
- Very young children don't need parties. A one or two year old needs a loving family and will probably enjoy a cake. We have made simple chocolate cakes with buttons for first birthdays.
- Parties don't need to be large.
- Mixed age parties can be easier to manage.
- Short is good but that short time needs to be organised. If the parents want to chat at the end and the children play informally that is great and a sign that the party has gone well.
- Helpers-teenage children can be really useful. Make sure there are sufficient helpers for the number of children.
- Sometimes an outing can take the place of a party. Last year, one of the children chose to take a couple of friends to the Battle of Hastings re-enactment rather than have a party. This was low stress and a fun but muddy day out.
- Quiet activities reduce over-excitement. I well remember my Mother saying "Excited and silly and you will end up in tears" which seems sadly true of parties. We've found that some version of sleeping lions is a useful quietener. Sleeping princesses goes down well with little girls. Kim's game works well with children old enough to attempt to write or draw objects.
- Creative activities: decorating ice creams or cup cakes,
- Use music that isn't overly noisy for games requiring music. We have found that The Four Seasons works well.
- Watch that the younger children don't eat too much-OK, I failed on this one recently!
Enjoy the party and remember that you are teaching your child even with this. Is this a celebration and thanksgiving for another year of life with a calm, happy parent or is it an encouragement to "me-centredness"?