Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Preschool Party Survival Tips

Last weekend we celebrated Katie's 5th birthday with the ultimate little girl's party, complete with a pony. Yes, I'm a total sucker. Yes, I realize I'm trying to relive childhood. And yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

But, Katie had a blast, and the look on her face when she saw and rode the pony was priceless, so it was all worth it. I enjoyed watching her play with her friends, and seeing how much that circle continues to grow each year. I actually even relaxed and enjoyed some of the party myself.

It's been an incredibly tough year for Katie, and I wanted to do something extra special for this birthday. She loves a good party better than anyone I know, and it was fun watching her be spoiled rotten for a few hours. If anyone deserves it she does - she's had more responsibility, stress and emotions than most kids will have in their entire childhood wrapped up in the last 12 months. I'm glad to see that she is finally starting to move past it a little bit, and get back to just being a kid.

I credit the success of the party to a few tricks I've figured out after 5 years of trial and error with children's party. For those of you who have kids just entering the party age, let me pass on some of these nuggets of wisdom regarding children's parties.

  1. Don't even think of organizing a game. Half the kids are afraid of blindfolds. The other half are all too busy picking their noses, digging in sand or running in circles to pay attention to the instructions.
  2. Skip the piñata. Yes, it's so cute to see little ones whack the heck out of a paper maché pony, but really, it's a liability. I was only hit once this year (a record, I think), but it was a good blow to the head, and it still hurts when I brush my hair. No piñata next year. Period.
  3. Know the people you invite. I invited Katie's entire class (10 kids) because they have a rule at her preschool that if you want to invite one kid, you have to invite all, or none at all. It made for an awkward beginning and it was nearly impossible to break the ice with some of the party-goers, adults and children alike. On the plus side, I now know who to avoid at preschool get-togethers.
  4. Dollar store cowboy hats are not a good investment. They leave a ring of color on your kids' heads that do not come off. Ever.
  5. Have adult drinks. You will need them by the end of the first hour. Trust me. You may want to share them with parents who are spending the afternoon, as well. The parents relax and let the kids play while they visit, and the kids learn not to cling to mommy like cat hair on black pants. Read "The Three Martini Playdate" for inspiration in this area.
  6. Lock the children out of the house. Allow them in only for party breaks. This serves two purposes - one, it gives the parents a space where they can go for quick doses of sanity and refills of item #5 above. Two, it helps with the aftermath that comes after a tidal wave of children descend upon your home. A little, at least.
I think we can say that the party was a success. Katie had a blast and honestly, I did, too. After the initial hour or two's awkward moments, everyone mellowed out, relaxed and enjoyed a nice, muggy central Virgina afternoon.

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