Making Kids Parties Less Awful: A 101

There may be people out there who enjoy throwing/attending kid’s parties but I don’t think I’ve ever met one of them. In short I think we can all agree that they are awful. But the question is how can we make them less awful?

Duration of party
Time works differently at kid’s parties. Every hour in a normal environment = 5 hours at a kid’s party. It’s a bit like The Matrix.

Parties that go on for too long can lead to severe psychological and physical trauma suffered by both parents and children – see the scientific diagram below which tracks likelihood of GBH being committed by guests alongside the stress of the supervising adults…

timeparties5

Note: It should be illegal to host a kid’s party of over 2 Hours.

Venue choice
Bearing in mind the above it is a good idea to carefully consider your venue choice and make sure you are able to provide ‘adult refreshments’. OK Poppy might ‘think’ she wants a soft play party for her 5th but has she properly considered the function room of your local pub?

The relief on a parents face as you hand them a beer as they walk through the door of a party is palpable.

Just tell Poppy to stop making everything about herself.

beer2

Theme
I’ve saved you hours researching on Pinterest. Here’s the theme – Poundland.

poundland

Entertainment
Children’s entertainers are expensive for a very good reason – the job they do is AWFUL. Sometimes I try and work out how much you would need to pay me to enthusiastically prance around in a skin tight Power Rangers costume, with a hangover whilst making balloon animals and doing magic tricks and it is A LOT of money.

To cut costs you can usually find a budget option. Elsa and Anna go on a bender seems to be a popular choice. Yes they will have been out on the lash the night before, yes they will stink of Jägerbombs and fags but no one is perfect – Just tell your kids not to touch them.

anna and elsa2

Games
If you don’t want to pay for entertainment then an even worse idea is to do the games yourself. Two of the most popular choices include:

  • Pass the parcel – is this even a game or is it just a circle of crying children surrounded by parents who need to get a fucking grip?pass the parcel
  • Musical statues – I don’t even know where to start with this carnival of hell. It’s torturous for everyone involved. Just don’t put yourself through it.  statues2

Food
I just wish we’d all just hold our hand up and say:

‘I’m not going to waste my time with sandwiches, I’m not fucking about with bits of cucumber and carrot batons I’m just going to provide a massive trough of Wotsits and I’m not even going to apologise for it!’

Then we wouldn’t all have to hover around behind our children’s chairs nervously shoving bits of vegetation on their plates and trying to convince the other parents that they usually wolf down healthy shit at home.

food

FYI If I go to a party with a Wotsit through I’ll have met my real life hero!

trough

Cake
I don’t care if it’s homemade, shop bought or a basic five quid tray bake from Tesco – EVERYBODY loves the cake. Kids love it because – cake, adults love it because it signifies this whole horrific ordeal is nearly over.

cake

Party bags
Lets just stop this yeh? Give em a mini bag of haribo, possibly a lollipop if you are feeling generous and jobs a good’un. I do not need any more chokeable, flammable crap you brought off eBay from China in my home thank you please.

party bags

That’s it – hurrah you can go home.  Go  have a nice lie down in a darkened room or rock backwards and forwards in your favourite corner – wherever your happy place is… go find it!

Just remember to do a sweep of the function room before you leave. If you party overran the 2 hour cut off then some of the parents may have fallen through a vortex in their own brain and need some medical assistance.hometime

P.S. Let’s all remember that as harrowing as entertaining a bunch of other people’s kids for 2 hours is, at least it’s a once yearly event. Now think about teachers. They have to do this EVERY DAY.

Thank you teachers, you are off the scale amazing!

P.P.S I thought I might like to be a teacher once so I volunteered in a local primary school and I had to try REALLY, REALLY hard not to swear at the kids. It was a pre-school. They were 3 years old. I eventually had to face the fact I just wasn’t a nice enough person. Luckily now I have fashioned some sort of career out of whinging about children on the internet, which I am much more suited to.

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Psssssst my new book is out NOW and currently on promotion for £4.99 on Amazon here or in all good bookshops and supermarkets :)

If you like you can also come drink gin with me on my book tour! Dates and locations are here

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26 thoughts on “Making Kids Parties Less Awful: A 101

  1. Kerry

    I have booked (for the first time) a soft play hell, I mean party, for my son’s 5th birthday next weekend. I have fallen fowl of the sandwich rule and the party bags, buuuuut there will be a large cake and it is only for 2 hour’s…….wish me luck!

    Reply
  2. Christalla

    This is the future right? Our little pork chops loveath the technology? Well let’s Skype the fucking party then! Everyone’s a winner! Imagine the possibilities?! Mama and papa maybe even nannys on the wine and the kids can just hang? They can all eat their own shit ( well not literally, what’s wrong with you?) have a dance, we can even mute the winging bratty one….. you know this is the way forward… please!

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  3. Olivia

    Thanks for the nod to the teachers! Although it’s a bit easier being strict as it’s your job to be.

    My least favourite day is always Christmas Party day when parents anonymously get to send in crap food for their kids to eat. I’m always super stingy with giving it out to kids – here’s one wotsit! – as I’m terrified one will vomit after too many rounds of limbo. Do love getting them to play the after eight game though. They work so hard to get it in their mouth and then most of them don’t like the taste!

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  4. Kate

    HA! I have been to a 2nd birthday party today and you a so right re the carrot batons and bits of cucumber. The parents were looking nervous and shovelling them on their kids’ plates en masse while all the kids just stuffed their faces with wotsits, quavers and mini chocolate rolls. BRING ON THE #WOTSITTROUGH!

    Reply
    1. Lynn

      I remember my two year olds party when I also had a three week old baby, so catering was definitely supermarket style. One child who had been denied sugar since birth would not leave the table for games, and ate the mini chocolate rolls with the silver paper on so as to maximize the number he could cram in before his mum noticed.

      Reply
  5. Isla Teate

    I served prosecco to the mums at my 3 year-old’s Teddy bears Picnic party. Well, it was Mother’s Day, and we bloody deserve it!

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  6. Angela Vale

    Thanks so much for the warning! I was about sure that parties for kids would be about just that – but I was even more surprised that when my offspring turned 1 (in letters: ONE) parents actually asked me “oh, did you throw him a party”? I was like what is WRONG with you people. He is one. He does not know what a party is. Or a birthday. I mean seriously the longer I can put it off the happier I will be. What I did was actually buy myself a really nice bottle of wine and congratulating me on that special day that I survived labour (still not sure how) and produced a human being without a) dying in the process b) killing him ever since. And I second the teacher high five. Include day care stuff. I mean seriously you guys are like the un-sung heroes of humanity!

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  7. Jules

    Brilliant, and spot on. I absolutely hate kids parties but what I don’t get is why adults hang around at them, I just drop and go – the ultimate in parent neglect it seems amongst the helicopter parents, my kids are free range.

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  8. Janet

    If I were benevolent dictator for a day, I’d make a law to limit all kids’ parties to a maximum of five guests and to last a couple of hours. I’d ban all party bags. The number of stupid let’s out do the last party and invite the whole pigging class in Reception is daft, and I resent the fact it takes up my weekends. Ideally, I’d limit parties to only being a modest after school friends round for tea affair, as I hate spending my weekends taking kids to parties. I can just about tolerate my own children, but being forced to spend time in the company of other peoples makes when they are hyped up on party crap makes me want to stab myself.

    Reply
    1. Lady Chappers

      Do you remember the good old days when there wasn’t an expectation for parents to hang around, so our parents used to just drop us off at parties and then go and have a couple of hours to themselves?

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  9. Lindy

    Lol! I do parties as a job – and quite love it!! Arty/creative parties no less – so just add lots of paint and glitter to the mix and you can imagine the insanity level!! Definitely 2hrs is the maximum length — and we focus on letting the parents enjoy themselves too, have a cuppa or a wine, take some pics, cut the cake – and walk away at the end leaving all the mess in our studio! Yes- most people would call that a hell job.. but I’m a rare breed who seems to have it as my ‘super-hero talent!’ and I know I am doing all the tired and overwhelmed parents a HUGE service!!.. though the real nightmare comes when I have to host my own kids’ parties… as they expect theirs to be bigger and better than all the other parties I do for other kids

    Reply
  10. Alison

    My daughters birthday is in July. We ALWAYS serve pimms to the parents. But maybe thats a bit poncey and not entirely sure we can get away with it in soft play (although our local one has a wine list).

    Reply
  11. R Williams

    Best kids party I ever went to wasn’t even one of mine. Someone had hired a very small kids play park with lots of big, wooden things to play on, fall off and scream about. There was a room there too in case it rained and for bagels and cake…. Oh, and wine and cake too. They’d got an arrangement with upstairs too as the sun shone and it only drizzled lightly . People didn’t want to leave. It was a brilliant party.

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  12. teacher Nicky

    The thing is they have stuff to do which they do every week in 20-40 minute slots. They aren’t excited and cake & sweets are not imminent. I really thought after 30 year 1’s it’d be a walk in the park doing a few party games at my twins 4th birthday party at home. HELL. I’ve booked into the soft play centre every year since!!

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  13. Lucy Heath

    And this is why there is ALWAYS a grown ups bar at our parties. I might just be that one person and hopefully we can meet soon! The secret to enjoying the planning, prep and party – a school desk filled with Prosecco, gin and bottle of beer. actually I will make a confession – I love the after party the best!!! xxx

    Reply
  14. Lady Chappers

    I went to a party last year where they didn’t serve booze. It was in a church hall, so the parents had actually chosen for it to be dry. I travelled an hour each way on public transport with an 11-month-old for that. I’m still bitter.

    Reply
  15. Paul Albert

    Hi Katie, great post as always. I think you need to have one of my Mr Banana Head parties so you can relax and float out the room rather than wanting to spontaneously combust. I’m very odd in that I can’t think of many things better than entertaining 30 children for two hours. I feel very lucky to do it every week but I totally understand it’s some people’s idea of a barely living hell.

    Reply
  16. Lauren J

    Wait, does it always have to be 2 hours?? I’ve been to a couple where everyone has (honestly) survived 3 hours, but that’s the limit…! And yes, ban party bags!! At A’s 1yo party, I honestly thought, ‘What CAN I actually put in these?*’ and much later ‘Why am I throwing a party at all…??!’. I’ve totally learnt my lesson, A is just having a ‘quiet’ birthday tea at the house with half a dozen families this year – two sets of ‘new’ friends we’ve met through giving birth at same time and the other four friends who just happen to have kids around the same time, because I’m lucky in life like that!
    *Btw, in case anyone was wondering, the answer is a chocolate coin, a Kiddylicious wafer and a sachet of teething crystals as well as a portion of cake seemed to meet the approval of parents and young tots alike!

    Reply
  17. Imogen Bowen

    Oh gawd, this is all happening round my house next week. I blame Martha Stewart big time. Have spent last hour on Pinterest researching ‘Cheap Mermaid Party’ ideas. Daughter wants ‘3 tiered b’day cake’ (jog on) & sandwiches in the shape of dolphins (not happening girlfriend).

    POA is to get all guests to bring their own mermaid blankets so they will be forced to flounder around the garden for approx 10 mins before collapsing in front of a scratchy DVD of The Little Mermaid while I and a carefully vetted group of mums get stuck into the ‘mermaid potion’.

    Reply
  18. James

    I thought all parents just dump their kids at a soft play place for the afternoon and are done with it these days?!

    Reply
  19. Claire Hainstock

    Why is inviting the whole class even a thing?! Why do party bags exist if only as a bribe to get rid of the little darlings? Why do we all do this to ourselves year after year, seemingly without learning a thing? The whole ridiculousness of the thing annoyed me so much I spent 10 years coming up with a party solution. It might not suit everyone and sadly I’ve not yet produced one for the under 5’s but give me the opportunity and I will. Next year let me know, and if you’re interested I will send you one of our parties. I still think children should have a party but parents should be able to enjoy it too.

    Reply
  20. Caroline

    This is absolutely hilarious. How do you come up with this? Like… you’re always so bloody on point. And yet no one else has written about it like you have. Genius.

    Reply

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