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April 12, 2007

(Kids) Party Hangover

Birthday_cake Yesterday my daughter celebrated her 6th birthday at our house.  Today I am sick with a cold.  Yesterday I was running myself ragged trying to make sandwiches and hang up streamers and buy balloons.  Today I cannot get out of bed.  Yesterday I was shaking my hips to Shakira's Hips Don't Lie with seven excited little girls in tutus and tiaras, dressed in a tutu and tiara myself because my daughter really, really wanted me to dress up.  Today my voice is gone.  Think there's a connection?

Don't get me wrong, I had a marvelous time yesterday.  Even though it was an at-home party, planned and executed by yours truly with some invaluable grandparents help, with no paid entertainment and just 6 guests, everyone had a marvelous time.  I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  But for the sake of my health and sanity, I've made a little list that I plan to keep for next year's party:


1)  The correct number of guests for a party is NOT "age of the child plus 1".  The correct number is whatever gives you a ratio of two children to one adult or better.  In other words, DO NOT attempt a drop-off party all by yourself.  Get grandma or grandpa to help.   Or hire a grandma/grandpa.

2)  If the birthday celebrant has whiny or pesky little brothers, it may be wise to plan an ice-cream outing with daddy during the time of the party, but ONLY if it does not mess with the adult-child ratio mentioned above.  Another option would be to put a favorite video on upstairs.  OR- rethink your stand on "presents for the birthday child only".  Perhaps pesky little brothers can be bribed to good behavior by some carefully chosen "special party favors".

3)  If the weather forecast says "scattered showers with sun in the afternoon", plan an indoor party.  And stick to it.  Don't hope for sun the night before, then see rain the next morning and set everything up for indoors, then move everything outdoors when the sun starts to shine at noon, then move everything back indoors when it becomes apparent one hour later than it will be too cold to have it outdoors anyway.

4)  Do not let the guests dictate the order of party activities.  Saying "OK girls, now what shall we do?" will only lead to dissention and chaos.  Say instead, "OK girls, first we are going to decorate princess crowns and then we are going to play Freeze Dance and then we are going to read a story.  Got that?".  You can deal with the guilt later.

5)  Do not volunteer to be a judge when playing Freeze Dance or Pass the Slipper.  It is like being a judge on American Idol -- everyone disagrees with you and the person voted off with go away in tears.  Be in charge of the music and leave the judging to grandma or grandpa.

6)  Despite lesson #2 above and despite all other efforts, at least one guest at this party will burst into tears.  It is likely to be the birthday celebrant ("It's my party, I can cry if I want to....").

7)  Do not estimate seven ham sandwiches for seven girls.  Especially when cupcakes, ice cream, strawberries and veggie chips are also on the menu.  Because you will end up with a lot of ham sandwiches.

8)  Do not buy everything your little cherub puts on birthday wish list, especially if said wishes cost under $15.  Because chances are she has told all her friends what she wants, and she will end up with two of the same thing and want to keep both toys.

9)  If the birthday celebrant is under 7 years of age, begin writing thank-you notes two weeks before the party.  She can begin by pre-printing "Dear Macy/Kendall/Sarah, thank you for the ____" and "Love, Amy" on the cards, and fill them in as presents arrive.  Otherwise it could be months before the cards are sent out.

10)  Make sure you have some time for yourself after the party.  Gobble up all the leftover birthday cake.  You deserve it.


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