By Rob Grigor
"THAT'S ANOTHER FINE
The balloons and the nice
which they'd both worked so hard to prepare,
Were now lying in tatters around them,
But at this point they just didn't care
First the good news, this chapter
looks like being a short one (let me hear you say Hallelujah!). Balloons
and decorations are an essential part of any children's party, right?
Well to be honest it's a matter of opinion. How often have you heard
the assembled tots remarking upon the quality of the party decor? My
own feeling is that children, while undoubtedly being fascinated by
colourful balloons, streamers, banners, etc, are not in anyway disappointed
at the lack of them. In fact it is adults who derive the most pleasure
out of a well festooned party room and adults who will provide the requisite
"ooohs and aaahs" of appreciation for your efforts.
Once again as we attempt to hit the nail
firmly on the head there will inevitably be a few sore thumbs (ouch!). If you feel that it is ludicrous to suggest that decorations are not
a necessity, then by all means go ahead and create a party room par
excellence. You may however agree that, apart from the financial outlay,
the time and effort involved in decorating the room could be far better
utilised putting the final touches on more important projects such as
your games programme. A party such as the one in our poem is always
going to be a disaster no matter how beautiful the room looks. A well
organised party on the other hand will always be a success, without
even a single balloon in evidence.
I suspect that most people will go for
the happy medium (no I don't mean that jolly lady down the road who
claims to be able to talk to the dear departed). A suitable number of
balloons, i.e. one for each child plus a few extras, (to allow for bursting)
is a simple and effective way to add some colour to the proceedings.
It is not a good idea to have just a token few balloons as some of the
children will undoubtedly ask to take one home. This will lead to other
children feeling left out when they realise that there are not enough
to go round (much wailing and nashing of teeth follows).
The important thing here is what you do
with the balloons once you have blown them up. Always but always hang
the balloons up. Do not be tempted to scatter them around the room for
that nonchalant but festive look. Still worse never issue each child
with a balloon as they arrive. Children are fascinated by balloons.
Second only to their desire to plunder the contents of the presents,
children love to play with balloons. So much so that if the balloons
are easily accessible you can forget any notions of getting them interested
in that game of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" or "Musical
Statues" which you have painstakingly prepared for their delight.
Instead the imaginative little cherubs will prefer their own creations
such as "Hit all and sundry as hard as you can with a balloon"
or "How many times can you jump on a balloon before it bursts".
These and other such gems of childhood inspiration can quickly lead
to disaster, not only for the balloons but also for your chances of
regaining control over the proceedings.
Similarly it is no good hanging balloons
up where the children can reach them. Seeing if you can jump high enough
to grab a balloon rates high on the list of joyous pursuits for the
average youngster. This frequently leads to the entire bunch being dragged
to the floor for the greater delight of the partygoers. The golden rule
is, tie a separate piece of string around each balloon (it is worth
investing in a ball of twine for this as cotton gets easily tangled).
Collect them all up and use a further piece of string to tie all the
strings together (I hope that makes sense). Using this same piece of
string hang the balloons up and don't forget to "hang 'em high"
as they say in the movies (well they do in the ones I watch). One large
bunch looks more impressive than several smaller ones and is also easier
to retrieve for distribution at the end of the party.
If you do decide to go for streamers, banners,
etc. the same rules about hanging up apply. This way you can ensure that
your decorative skills will not have been in vain and you will have
taken yet another step towards gaining the undivided attention of your
Just before we leave the subject altogether, this would seem to be a good point to mention the general suitability
of the party room. Many moons ago in Chapter 3, I mentioned the advantages
of keeping the number of guests in direct proportion to the space available.
Having done this the next step is to build a large steel cage for the
children to play in! Just kidding folks, what you should do is have
a long cool look at your room and try to imagine it with a dozen or
two energetic youngsters frolicking around (pretty scary eh?). It is
a good idea to arrange the furniture in such a way as to provide maximum
space in the middle for fun and games. If possible remove some of the
furniture, paying special attention to breakables. If you have a sprung
floor or are using an upstairs room (not recommended) for the proceedings
be especially careful. If a group of children are asked to jump up and
down on anything but a solid floor, most of the contents of the room
will jump along with them. Cabinets full of glassware have been known
to spontaneously burst open with disastrous results. Delicate ornaments
have merrily danced their way off the edges of shelves, bookcases and
sideboards into oblivion. All of this can of course be avoided with
a little forward planning and removal of anything you feel could cause
Last but definitely not least remove all
toys. No matter how sensational your party programme is, it will be
no match for the pulling power of toys. Even the simplest of playthings
will attract the attention of at least one of your guests. Before you
know it those cries of "I don't want to play this" will be
ringing out loud and clear as more of your young public decide that
new toys are more interesting than old games.
Would you believe it? That is the end of
the chapter. You will remember that I promised you a short one and there
it was. Unfortunately I cannot be as optimistic about the next one as
we are getting very close to the opening of that veritable can of worms,
Tea Time. Now before you get the wrong idea, I am not advocating a radicle
new menu for birthday teas but merely hinting on the exotic delights
in store as we plunge headlong into the next exciting instalment.