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 5


WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN (part two)
or
BEWARE OF STRANGERS BEARING GIFTS

By a quarter to four everyone had arrived
All forty three guests, plus six others!
The presents were opened, three games has been played
And they couldn't get rid of the mothers!

Three cheers for anyone who can read the first two lines of the above verse with a smug grin on their face.

Firstly because, having read the chapter on "Inviting Trouble", you will never again invite the children fifteen minutes or more before the party starts. HIP HIP HOORAY!

Secondly because you would now, never dream of inviting more guests than you comfortably have room for. HIP HIP HOORAY!

Thirdly having read the chapter "We've only just begun", you will no longer be coersed into taking on extra guests that were not bargained for. HIP HIP HOORAY!

However before you get too carried away with your success thus far, it will not have escaped your notice that there are a couple more lines here that deserve our attention. The three operative words are, Presents, Games and Mothers. An in depth look at Games will be coming up in the next chapter, so we can merrily skip over that one for the time being (who said HIP HIP HOORAY?).

To say that Presents are, in the minds of most children, the main reason for having a party, would not be too far from the truth. Indeed as your own little treasure charges off to open the front door on party day, you can bet that the uppermost thought in that innocent young mind will not be, "won't it be nice to see my friends again". The desire to find out what present the newly arrived guest has brought is all consuming. So much so that on many occasions the package will be grabbed out of unsuspecting hands, deposited on the floor, ripped open and the contents plundered, long before you have been able to ascertain the identity of the bearer.

Once again that all important control is in danger of being lost, early on in the party. As successive guests arrive the present opening turns into a free for all, with the children kindly lending a hand to help the snowed under birthday child with his booty. In no time at all your neatly prepared party room begins to resemble carnival day at the rubbish tip, as floor and furniture begin to disappear under piles of gaily coloured paper.

"Alright alright, enough already" I hear you cry, (what? it wasn't you, well I definitely heard something). "How can we avoid these terrible things which you have fortold unto us"?

This is another occasion where a quiet word with the happy little host or hostess beforehand can save you alot of problems. During this cozy chat you explain to the soon-to-be-one-year-older little person, that all the presents will be placed, still wrapped, into a specially designated box, basket or some such container, for opening later in the party. The result of this ingenious piece of strategy on your part is threefold:

Firstly both you and your child will be able to concentrate on the warm welcoming of the party guests without the distraction of the colourful scenes described above.

Secondly the thoughtfully purchased and very expensive (well you can always hope) presents will stand more than an outside chance of surviving the party intact.

Thirdly you will (sneakily I admit) be providing yourself with the means for a pleasant (not to mention time filling) little interlude of organised present opening later on. Often the best time for this will be the last twenty minutes or so of the party (depending on the number of guests) and involves the children sitting in a large circle with the birthday child in the middle. A bottle can be spun to choose whose present will be opened each time and some fun can be had with the revellers trying to guess the contents of each package. A small prize is given for any correct guesses (not including the giver of said gift or for that matter any members of his/her family, employees of the shop where it was purchased, or anyone who may have been secretly been looking through the window when it was being wrapped).

During all of this you will have plenty of opportunity to make a note of who gave what and to ensure that each newly unwrapped delight is placed safely to one side for individual attention by the lucky recipient after the party.

Having dealt (and pretty thoroughly I thought) with the Presents, we come to the subject of Mothers. Ah yes Mothers as in "they couldn't get rid of....." For Mothers read Parents although it has to be said that, in the main, it is the mums rather than the dads who will be doing the job of delivering their little angels to the party.

Remember here that the object of this book is to help you, the brave party giver, to get through this important day as effortlessly as possible. I mention this so that you will not be too shocked, surprised or even disgusted when I say that, under no circumstances, is it ever a good idea to invite some or all of the parents to stay to the party. Indeed even allowing mummy or daddy to come in with their little pride and joy because, "he/she's a bit shy so I had better stay for a few minutes", is not to be recommended. Now before you start thinking that this time I've really gone too far and whoever heard of a children's party without all the parents staying, let me explain.

The principle of "Too many cooks spoil the broth" applies here. Children like to know who is in charge and the fewer adults there are, the easier it is for the little poppets to know who they should be listening to. Secondly and more importantly, children behave totally differently when they are with their parents. For example shy children will take advantage of mummy being present to be even more shy, whereas on their own they will often forget that shyness and come out of their shell. You will remember that I wrote earlier about a child's ability to suspend disbelief and be transported into a different world. This becomes much more difficult if mum or dad is on hand to drag them back into the real one again.

Yet another problem is controlling the naughtier children when their own parents are in the room (usually showing no desire to restrain their offspring). It is not easy to have a quiet word ("you do that again and you'll go straight home" etc) with a misbehaving child in the presence of their elders. The more fickle children will use mum or dad as a second opinion when they don't want to join in with the others ("no of course you don't have to play if you don't want to") often leading to a mass exodus from your carefully planned games programme.

Add to all of the above the fact that....

1) Parents take up alot of room leaving less for the children and you, to move around in.

2) The noise factor increases when they decide to catch up on all the latest gossip, oblivious of your frantic attempts to make yourself heard above the babble.

3) You will feel an obligation to entertain the adults as well as the children......

.......and you will perhaps (I hope) be starting to realise how much nicer the party will be for all concerned if you adhere to the golden rule of NO PARENTS

Having read this far, you are most probably a parent yourself and could be feeling a bit put out by all this adverse comment. I am not for one moment suggesting that any of the above is the fault of the parents. Rather that Children's Parties are designed for Children just as Adult Parties are for Adults. Trying to mix the two will only cause problems.

It is of course a good idea to have some adult help on the day. Two or possibly three adults should be the maximum including yourself and it is a good idea to avoid parents of guests for, what should now be, obvious reasons.

Well that's just about it for this chapter folks (HIP HIP HOORAY!). If you fell asleep half way through, WAKE UP!! The next chapter promises to be even more exciting as we continue our incredible journey (now that would make a good film title) into the world of children's party survival

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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