Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘anticipation

             What is it that gives parents the irresistible desire to throw birthday parties for their young children?  I think maybe there is a little bit of a wish to show off our youngster, to help him or her to be “king (or queen) of the hill,” to have his or her day in the sun.  Maybe we want to relive our childhood fun days through our child.  Whatever it is, we keep doing it, even if the little tads ruin our carpet or trample our petunias and invariably make us forget our resolve to treat our diminutive guests like adults.

          In this post, I will give some tips for making tot parties less nerve-wracking and even a little enjoyable.  In later posts, I will give some descriptions of both indoor and outdoor parties you might want to give for your child. 

                                               Parties for Your Progeny–How to Survive

             The key word in planning parties for children is anticipate.  Dream up the absolute worst that could happen and prepare for it.  (Kids were probably the inspiration for Murphy’s Law.)  If you remember to do this, the battle is half won.  Following are a few more tips that might help:

 1.        Keep it simple.  Pick a theme and plan activities that you know the children can handle.  Make sure you involve your child with these decisions as much as possible.  Don’t force him to choose something he doesn’t want.  Don’t wear yourself out on too much fanciness; the kids probably won’t notice.  (But, if your child really wants something extravagant in the way of food or decorations, maybe you can do it for her.)

2.         Be clear and specific on the invitations.  Write them to the parents as well as the children.  If you hand them out, give them to the child when the parent is present.  Request an R.S.V.P.  Be sure to state when the party begins and when it will be over.  An hour-and-a-half is good for young children, longer for older kids.  Also, if you don’t want them to bring gifts, say that clearly on the invitation.

3.         Try to invite kids that are pretty close to the same age or maturity level.  When some older kids get bored with younger children’s games, you may have warring factions on your hands, or at least some detached deserters.

4.         A guideline for young children’s parties is that the number of guests equals the child’s age plus one.

5.         Plan twice as many games as you think you’ll need.  If kids seem bored as you explain one game, switch to another.  Never play one game too long.  Use your child as a consultant.

6.         Try to have a partner.  If a spouse is not available, ask one of the parents of the guests to stay and help referee.  (This way, you can run two games at once, when some of the children say “London Bridges is dumb” and it’s your child’s favorite game!)

7.         Sometimes it’s handy to have a whistle to get the children’s attention.

8.         When teaching a new game:  Know the rules; don’t try to teach a game that you are not sure of yourself.  Have all necessary equipment ready before beginning.  Ask the children to get into position for playing the game before you explain it, and demonstrate everything as you talk.  Make sure everyone observes established rules.  And, last but not least, enjoy playing with the youngsters.  Children are quick to sense a leader’s boredom or bad attitude.

9.         Plan simple but fun food.  Don’t wear yourself out cooking.  Kids rarely distinguish between store-bought, mix and homemade.  Be aware of allergies, medications or health problems among your guests.

10.       Have the children eat outside, if possible.  At the very least, put down a tarp or sheet of plastic to catch spills.  Have plenty of napkins, simple-to-use-for-little-hands utensils and cups, and make sure it’s all disposable.  If you have ice cream, give small portions.  Fill cups of punch only half full for young children.  Save the eating part for the last, if possible.

11.       If you’re having the party outdoors, try to do so in a fenced-in area.

12.       Remember to be flexible!  This is nearly as important as anticipating!

13.       Try to have some party favor for the children to take home.  This is especially important when the guests are bringing birthday presents for your child.  Young children have a hard time understanding the concept of birthday gifts.

14.       Have large trash bags, broom and mop on hand for clean up.

15.       After the party’s over, you may want to share your fun by taking decorations down carefully and donating them to the children’s ward or playroom of a local hospital or orphanage.  Call the information office of the institution and ask for the procedure in making your donation.

            I hope these tips help you avoid disasters and enjoy your child’s party.  But most of all, I hope your child enjoys her party, and with some thoughtful planning, I’m sure she will.


The Great Key

I was going to call this section “The Great Secret,” but then I realized that the only person over ten who would not know this “secret” would have to be someone raised by coyotes in Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Although most everyone already knows the secret of successful party-throwing, many as yet do not believe in it.  Or, what is almost as bad–they don’t believe that using this Great Key can actually be any fun at all.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, think of your favorite time of year. Nine out of ten will say it’s Christmas. Why is that your favorite? Is it because of the gifts you get? Most people over about fourteen will say no, not really. Is it the decorations filling the house? Is it the food baking for weeks prior? Could it be the family get-togethers and neighborhood open houses? Is it the carols? Is it the giving of specially-chosen gifts to loved ones? Might it be the cheerful kindness in the air? Is it the spiritual significance? The answer to these and many other similar questions is yes. It’s the unique combination of all these things that makes Christmas so wonderful.

 But, what if there were no radios and shopfront signs announcing “Only 103 more shopping days till Christmas!”? What if, on December 24, we suddenly said, “Gee, I guess tomorrow’s Christmas; maybe we should hang the wreath on the door or something”? Would a one-day holiday have the charm of the traditional month-long season? Of course not! It would hardly be more memorable than Labor Day, for example. And why is that, you may ask? Because it would be lacking all the joyous time spent in painstaking preparations and active anticipation. (One of my favorite Christmas poems from my childhood ended with the line:  “Anticipation’s best; next, the remembering.”)  A Christmas like that would be lacking the pleasure of PLANNING!

Yes, folks–as none of you would ever have guessed (heavy on the sarcasm here)–the Great Key to successful throwing of parties is PLANNING. (Ever heard that word before?)

Okay, now you’re saying, “So tell me something I don’t know!” All right, I will. Here is my second revelation:

Party Planning can be fun! (Sometimes it’s even more fun than the actual party is.) If you don’t believe that, then you have not been planning the right kind of parties.

No fun can be derived from merely “tossing” a party, like so much lettuce and croutons. You’ve got to put yourself into it–with a strength that you get from the rejuvenating tonic called enthusiasm, letting your creative juices flow and enliven your mind–and throw the party for all you’re worth! This takes planning.

In the next post, I’ll start on the 7 Tips for Successful Party Planning.

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