Our son and heir has just celebrated his third birthday. Given the nature of these things, his is one of many parties of children of a similar age that we’re going to be going to this summer. If, as a parent, you haven’t noticed your social life now revolves the activities of parents with children of a similar age, then you’ve either managed to juggle things very well, or none of the other parents likes you.
Some of you will be considering throwing a party for your child, some of you will have done it last year and realised that it’s much better just to hope for a sunny day and then invite some close friends round to your back garden at the last minute.
If you’re one of the former, here are six hints to ease the stress of it all..
1. Try to ensure your child’s party is before any of his friends’ celebrations. That way, you get to gauge what is the acceptable price range in terms of presents for a kid you only see at various birthday gatherings.
Obviously, this requires rather a lot of forward planning and no short amount of clairvoyance, but it’s worth the extra effort as you will either save yourself a lot of money by not going overboard, or a lot of embarrassment when you see that you spent half the amount that others did.
Alternatively, just lie about when your child’s birthday is. But that’s a matter for your conscience and will probably need some bribery of relatives, not least the little one.
2. Whatever venue you choose to hold the party in, make sure it is not your own home, because if you do make that mistake you will find you will have to tidy up twice: once before and once after. That seems rather a lot of effort when you normally think once a week is overkill.
In all seriousness, though, make sure you survey the venue first. You don’t want a hall where various rodents or large insects have taken up squatters ‘ rights.
A playground or an indoor play area makes a good place, as then the little darlings can wear themselves out without you having to resort to performing cringe-making magic tricks or organising three-year-old friendly party games. (If they’re under the age of four, don’t expect them to pass on the parcel. Ever.
If you do want organised entertainment, get in someone who knows what they’re doing, but check out that no parents have a clown phobia. Or have read Stephen King’s It.
3. You will be judged on the contents of the party bag given out to the attendees upon the conclusion of the celebration. Earn piety points by putting in some crayons, but really win over the parents by sticking in a sweet that you know they’re going to have before their child even sees it.
4. Check if your child actually likes the song ‘Happy Birthday’. Ours spent most of this moving lyrical tribute to his third anniversary shouting ‘stop singing’. Mind you, it could be that they were out of tune, but what do you expect from three-year-olds?
5. Don’t plan an epic celebration. On every other day of the year, you know your child is inclined to get a little tetchy when over-tired. But not half as tetchy as you and all the other parents will be when, following the tantrums at the three-hour point, the kids get a sugar rush after being fed party food and suddenly want to do it all over again.
6. If you’re having a cake made or buying one, make sure it’s one you like. As well as your child, I guess.
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