By Rob Grigor
WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
BEWARE OF STRANGERS BEARING GIFTS
By a quarter to four everyone
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
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
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