I just gave up on the book Hausfrau, and I wish I’d given up a lot sooner. I kept THINKING I should stop reading it because it was making me feel kind of depressed and sick and I was tired of the story interrupting itself, but then I kept going just because I’d gotten so far already and was still interested in finding out what would happen. And then two very upsetting things happened in the book. If I’d stopped reading it when I’d FELT like stopping, I wouldn’t have those things in my head.
Let’s talk about something else! Elizabeth wants to have her 10th birthday party at home, in our yard. This is the party I mentioned earlier, where I was braced for a big loud noisy expensive party, but I thought it would be somewhere ELSE, and that someone ELSE would be managing the children and cleaning up afterward. Instead it will be HERE, and the one managing/cleaning will be ME.
It’s the first time I’ve done such a thing, and I have a feeling there are a LOT of things people have learned from experience on this topic. I have some tips already from that earlier post. Elisabeth suggested: (1) have another adult around to help and commiserate, and (2) have an activity set up for the kids to do as they arrive, since some will arrive early and some late. Joanne suggested having the kids write their names on their cups and decorate them if they want to; that would be a good arrival activity. Katie suggested seeing if I can hire one or two of Rob’s friends to help out. These are all such good ideas.
The basic structure of the party is two hours in the back yard. I chose two hours because that seems to be the minimum party length, and I don’t want to do MORE than two hours.
I’ll have an arrival activity (decorating cups and/or a paper tablecloth, and/or running around in the yard), and also will be ready with a departure activity (probably more running around in the yard).
I’ll have a clipboard and paper for parents to write down their names and phone numbers. I will try to get all the parents to leave by putting on the invitation something like “drop-off at [time], pick up at [time],” and by helping them leave if they want to leave or don’t care either way (“Okay, we’ll see you back here at 3:00, then!”). I will not say “Go, have fun!” or “Enjoy your time off!” or anything similar, because I don’t know how to respond when other parents say it to me as I drop off one child and go home to deal with the other children.
If parents stay anyway, I will… I don’t know. I don’t know what I’ll do with them. It gives me some comfort to have been on the other end of that relationship: when Elizabeth was younger, she didn’t want me to leave her at parties so I stayed. Here is what I and the other parents expected: to have a place we could stand and chat with each other, in sight of the children at the party. That’s it. Usually the host DID offer us cake or something, but I always felt as if I and the other parents were Not Officially There: we weren’t invited guests, we were more like our children’s security blankets. Existing and taking up space, but not in need of any official hosting.
We’re going to decorate by hanging regular balloons upside down from tree branches, and tying helium balloons to the mailbox (I’ve LOVED this when I’m trying to find a birthday child’s house) and to the stair railings and to anywhere else that seems good.
If it rains, we will have the party inside, heaven help us all. I will try to make it seem like a madcap adventure as I hiss at the other children to “clear the dining room table, QUICK. No, just shove everything into a laundry basket or something and GET IT OUT OF HERE!”
I’m letting her invite a dozen children, not because I specifically chose twelve, but because that was her full list of people she wanted to invite and that seemed okay. She’s inviting all girls. I said casually, “Are there any boys you want to invite?,” and she said, shocked, “NO!” As if I’d suggested she might want to serve broccoli instead of cake.
I have heard that some people actually drop off uninvited siblings as well as the invited child. I am just going to hope no one does that.
We’re having the party on a Sunday afternoon instead of a Saturday, because we’ve heard Saturday can be a busy day for kids who are doing sports, or who have siblings doing sports. That explains why SO MANY birthday parties are on Sundays around here. I’d wondered.
I’m pushing for cupcakes so I don’t have to cut and serve cake. We’ll have paper plates and plastic utensils. Elizabeth wants to have pizza too, but one of the girls she wants to invite has a severe dairy allergy, so I’m thinking NO on pizza; it’s a good time to teach the difference between “having things your way because it’s your birthday” and “being a considerate host.” If the guest with the allergy RSVPs a no, then…well, but by then the invitations will already have gone out. Perhaps I could email parents saying “Oh by the way, we’ve decided to have pizza too.”
I don’t know yet what to have to drink. Water? I don’t really want to deal with soda, and milk is out because of the child with a dairy allergy. But water doesn’t seem very festive. Maybe I should decide to deal with soda. I could get those cute little cans. Or juice boxes. Or a selection: little water bottles, little sodas, juice boxes.
For activities, she wants to play simple games like duck-duck-goose and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and ring-toss, but mostly just run around in the yard and play. We’ll get out the hula hoops and bouncy balls and other outdoorsy toys and have them lying around. She wants the game prizes to be very small so that people who don’t win anything won’t be as upset. Like, if there are lollipops in the goody bags, she wants the extra lollipops to be the prizes: then some people might get two lollipops, but everyone gets at least ONE.
I’ve noticed that for awhile there was a trend in our area toward NOT opening the presents at the party. That seems to have shifted back, and in any case I think we’ll have her open the presents at the party because it takes up TIME.
We’re not sure about the goody bags yet. We will have them, we know that. That’s all we know.
I am interested in ALL birthday-party talk. I am PARTICULARLY interested in tips, not only to make things easier and more manageable (though of course that is on my mind), but also tips to make things more FUN. I am a little worried, with so many of Elizabeth’s friends having/attending bounce-house parties and roller-skating parties and gymnastics parties, that duck-duck-goose in someone’s back yard will be a bit…dull. I don’t want to Pinterest every inch, but “This small thing was a surprising hit” can be INVALUABLE. And we have some money to play with: a location party would have started at around $250, and I don’t see any reason we can’t take some of that and redirect it to the Increase the Fun of a Backyard Party fund.