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 7


"THAT'S ANOTHER FINE MESS....."

The balloons and the nice decorations
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 young audience.

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 problems.

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.

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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