Introduction Foreword Chapter 1 - In Praise Of Children's Parties Chapter 2 - So What Was Chapter 1 All About? Chapter 3 - Inviting Trouble Chapter 4 - We've Only Just Begun Chapter 5 - Beware Of Strangers Bearing Gifts Chapter 6 - Let The Games Commence Chapter 7 - That's Another Fine Mess Chapter 8 - Feeding Time At The Zoo Chapter 9 - To Be Or Not To Be Chapter 10 - Tea For 2 (or 20, or 200!) Chapter 11 - Everybody Get Down Chapter 12 - The Party's Over Appendix 1 - Parties Outside The Home Appendix 2 - Further Reading Appendix 3 - Table of Contents

The Complete Children's Party Survival Guide

By Rob Grigor

 

CHAPTER 10


FEEDING TIME.....(Part 3)

"TEA FOR 2" (or 20 or 200!)

The re-lighting candles could not be blown out
And Amelia she started to fret,
So forty nine mouths blew along, the result,
Candles out, and the cake soaking wet!

Well tea-time it took fifteen minutes or so,
They could not make it last any longer.
And Amelia's parents were starting to dream
Of the time they could drink something stronger.

Perhaps 200 guests is a slight exaggeration unless your child is extremely popular. More often than not your party tea will be for around 15 to 20 ravenous revellers although many people have been heard to say that at the time it seemed like 200. Of course they did not have the benefit of "The Complete Children's Party Survival Guide" so what can you expect.

So far in this marathon examination of what many would call the "bun-fight" we have covered the delicate task of expertly manoeuvring the assembled throng to the tea area with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of order. Skilfully avoiding the minefield of hats, blowers, etc we are now ready to begin the main event, namely eating and drinking.

Let's deal with the second of our two verses in this section first. There are two main ways of presenting the party feast to the enthusiastic hoard.

1)Party Food Boxes.

2)Laying all the food and drink out on the table.

Party Food Boxes do seem on the face of it to provide a quick and easy answer to the problem. Basically all the children receive exactly the same amount of eats in a compact and gaily decorated box which only needs the addition of a carton of drink to complete the package. All the preparation is done prior to the party and on conclusion of the revelry the box, which also serves as a plate, can be swiftly cleared up with it's contents and disposed of. Indeed if it is still serviceable, the box can be emptied and instantly recycled as a "going home bag" substitute.

Well with a glowing report like that what is Mr Smartypants (Who said that?) going to find fault with now?

Firstly food boxes are an instant recipe for tea being over in ten to fifteen minutes. The amount of food that they will hold is quite small and by the time you have popped in a bag of crisps and a chocolate biscuit or two you will be wondering how the rest of your delicious creations are going to fit in. Often the solution to this problem is to squash everything down resulting in looks of disdain on the faces of the children as they try to separate sausages from cakes and cheese cubes from jam sandwiches. As the food is not really displayed at it's best the children will often eat less of it and due to the lack of quantity it will not be long before you hear the cries of "Can I get down now" or "I don't want anymore".

Secondly as all the children are given the same food there will inevitably be things in the box that some of them do not like. Kiddlywinks are often quite upset by this as they feel, until reassured otherwise, that they are expected to eat everything they are given. Even if you explain beforehand that they are not obliged to consume the entire contents of the box, it will not be long before the first cry of "I don't like........" goes up, followed by similar announcements from all and sundry.

Undoubtedly there are some advantages to using boxes but if you are looking for that legendary 30-45 minute tea break then they are not the way to go. Of course you could still use them as a substitute for goodie bags so all is not lost.

Far better then to use the second option of laying all the food out on the table, or cloth if you have everyone seated on the floor (see Chapter 8). This gives you much more control (the magic word) as, after all, your little guests can only eat what you place before them. To this end it is not a good idea to put all the food out at the same time. Instead a four stage approach is the best plan.

At the start only have savouries on the table. This avoids the problem of the little dears skipping straight to the sweetmeats. Sausages, crisps etc are very popular but the same cannot be said of sandwiches so keep these to a minimum or dispense with them altogether. It is also a good idea to avoid the use of cocktail sticks as the children seem to have a fascination with them and often thrust large quantities of these sharp objects into their pockets with obvious consequences. As a safer substitute for cocktail sticks try using thin plastic drinking straws cut to size or better still allow the children to use their favourite eating method..............their fingers!

Once a suitable time has passed, and remember there is no need to rush here as everyone will want to stay at the table in anticipation of the delights to follow, clear the decks and bring on the cakes, biscuits, etc. Once again allow everyone plenty of time to partake before once again clearing away and introducing the jelly and ice cream. Finally it's time to bring on the birthday cake with the usual enchanting choral refrain. Given the option, very few children will want a piece of cake at this time, preferring instead to take it home in their bag or box. Once again rather than asking who would like a piece, explain to the children that they can all have a small piece now to see how delicious it is. This will have the double effect of extending tea time and saving you a lot of work wrapping up individual portions for later.

Now for another one of those golden tips that has made your reading of this epic so worthwhile. On no account should you allow any of the children to leave the table (aside from an urgent call of nature) until everyone has finished eating. One child's successful "escape" will result in a chorus of similar requests, many of them from children who would have been quite happy to stay at the table had they not realised there was an option. This can very quickly lead to a complete desertion of your culinary efforts by the little poppets and even if a few remain seated you will have the difficult task of keeping one eye on the tea table and the other on a highly excited and, horror of horrors, temporarily uncontrolled group of little revellers. Using the technique described earlier in Chapter 6, any requests to leave the table early should be met with a firm refusal. A good ploy is to point out that, "no one may get down until we have all sung happy birthday and ****** (substitute the name of your favourite birthday child) has blown out his/her candles."

Curiously enough the mention of candles brings us to the first verse in this chapter:

The re-lighting candles could not be blown out
And Amelia she started to fret,
So forty nine mouths blew along, the result,
Candles out, and the cake soaking wet!

At the risk of more unpopularity with the manufacturers I am compelled to say beware the re-lighting candle. Yes of course they can be great fun but I have personally seen children reduced to tears with the frustration of not being able to blow them out. The other guests of course feel compelled to help and the scenario of the soaking wet cake is almost always the result. Often the sodden cake has to be rescued from the eager horde and rushed to the kitchen where the candles can be removed and safely extinguished. Keep a special eye on how close the children get to the cake at this time as it is all too easy for hair to become singed in the candle flames. Far better then to use regular candles which can be easily blown out to the usual applause and cheers. Traditionally children are asked to congregate around the birthday cake for the singing of "Happy Birthday To You" but if they are already seated at the table, ask them to remain where they are as they will get a better view of the proceedings. This will help to alleviate the aforementioned danger of getting too close to the candles.

Following the cutting and eating of the cake, tea time is over and unless something is drastically wrong your target of 30-45 minutes should have been easily achieved. Your table should be looking in pretty good shape and because of the orderly way in which you have organised things, spills and other accidents should have been kept to a minimum. In particular any incidents of food throwing should be stopped immediately before mass imitation sets in and it becomes much harder to restore order. Playing some appropriate music at a suitable level while the little darlings are eating will add to the atmosphere. I have found Disney tunes to be particularly popular as the kiddelies love to sing along. A small impromptu competition can be had with the children seeing who can be first to recognise the movies that the tunes come from [U.S. readers could also check out a couple of albums by children's entertainer Steve Pullara].

And another thing............just kidding, believe it or not we are about to put the proverbial lid on the subject of tea time. As you can see there are a great many things that can be done to make this a wonderful time for one and all. So have a quick run round the block and read through it again. There you see it's even better the second time isn't it?...........Oh alright then.

Would you believe it there are only four verses of the poem left. Could it be that we are nearing the end of the book. Try to control yourself there is still a little way to go, but for now it's farewell to chapter 10, I'm off to have some sausages and crisps followed by cakes and jelly, yum!

Introduction Foreword Chapter 1 - In Praise Of Children's Parties Chapter 2 - So What Was Chapter 1 All About? Chapter 3 - Inviting Trouble Chapter 4 - We've Only Just Begun Chapter 5 - Beware Of Strangers Bearing Gifts Chapter 6 - Let The Games Commence Chapter 7 - That's Another Fine Mess Chapter 8 - Feeding Time At The Zoo Chapter 9 - To Be Or Not To Be Chapter 10 - Tea For 2 (or 20, or 200!) Chapter 11 - Everybody Get Down Chapter 12 - The Party's Over Appendix 1 - Parties Outside The Home Appendix 2 - Further Reading Appendix 3 - Table of Contents

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