How to survive a kids party

On Saturday we held F’s 4th birthday party. It was the first ‘proper’ kids party we have actually done. It sounded simple enough. Hold it in a church hall to avoid mess, get a few party bags together, make a pass the parcel, buy some crisps, blow up balloons, bake a cake – job done!

How wrong I was.

I am too scared to calculate the number or hours invested, the number of pounds spent, the number of expletives directed at ready roll icing and the number of times I flicked myself in the forehead as punishment for deciding to throw said party when we could have easily got away with it for another year.

‘BUT HE LOVED IT!’ you say.

Yes, he did. He really did. But then again he also loved watching our neighbours dog take a sh*t in the street and in any case 4 days later the party has been totally forgotten. The dog taking a sh*t in the street has not – and that was free and not my mess to clean up.

Anyway i thought i would give you the lowdown on what i have learnt about kids parties over the last few weeks in case you are stupidly thinking of hosting one of your own: –

Every party needs a good theme. Our choice ‘poundland.’

Providing alcoholic beverages for your adult guests is a good rouse to make you wandering around with a drink in hand look acceptable thoughtful and appreciated touch. Remember that every party needs at least one responsible adult host – don’t debate this, just don’t be that person. Instead, faff about drinking fake Aldi pimms and delegating tasks, it makes you appear important and in control.

The present table
Always a contentious issue. The present table may also be referred to as the object which represents what an evil b*tch of a mother you are.

Any games you have planned will be well and truly trounced by the allure of running up and down the room screaming like a crazy person. I’d allow at least 30 minutes for this. I’d also allow time for strange spontaneous activities such as making hedgehogs out of melted ice-cream and frazzles.


Are you enjoying your party poppet? Well yes, yes i am. Can’t you tell by my exuberant face?

Party tea
Planning the party tea will make you feel like an idiot, fact. Calculating how many loaves of bread you need to make 22 kids 3 sandwiches each is enough to push you close to breaking point. And no, i still don’t know the answer. All i know is that you will make too many sandwiches as no kids come to parties wanting to eat sandwiches. Putting the trays of sandwiches down first to encourage sandwich consumption will be met with extreme disgust. It’s a party, they want to inhale cheesy puffs and mainline sugar. End of.

The cake
I think this was the good bit, the bit where you realise it was all worth it. Four little flames reflected in a pair of happy sparkly eyes. Then before you know it, its been chopped up into little pieces and doled out to hungry mouths. All that work for 30 seconds?! It might then seem like a good idea to go around showing people pictures of the cake on your phone in a rather pathetic attempt to validate the 6 hours you spent making it. Probably best not to, if you can help it.

Party bags (AKA f*ck off time)
Handing out party bags will almost certainly leave you feeling physically violated, which is a small price to pay for the sight of the backs of your guests heads exiting the building. Be sure to offer an apologetic glance at the parents as they leave, sorry for all the e numbers that will keep them up till midnight, sorry if any of them choke on the cheap crap you bought on ebay etc.

The aftermath
Turns out not many people go to kids parties expecting to get drunk so taking home 1.5 litres of pimms and a case of beer is a small victory. The only other good thing is that throwing and/or attending said parties offers a 99.9% effective method of contraception. Feel happy that you have helped people make an important life choice. More kids = more kids parties so no, definitely not.

That’s it really. Sitting here now, enjoying beans on toast for dinner (again) because we can’t afford anything else.

Bring on 5!




P.S. I have a new book OUT NOW! You can nab it on Amazon here or in your lovely local bookshop :)


35 thoughts on “How to survive a kids party

  1. Not A Frumpy Mum

    Heehee, we had A very similar party for O’s 2nd birthday. Crazy really, considering we could well have got away with not having one. The hours spent planning were ridiculous, and the party bags took hours to sort!
    I was the hostess swanning around with a glass of wine glued to my hand (alcohol MUST be provided for adults) while hubby stayed in the kitchen. Not sure what he was doing but it kept him busy.
    We made far too much kids sandwiches, took most of it home along with about 15 jellies!
    My big top tip for parties, spend £50 hiring a bouncy castle. Best move ever! xxx

    1. Katie Post author

      As i said – 2 y/o!! You should have known better ;) bouncy castles are good although with mostly 4 year old boys on they tend to turn a bit violent! x

  2. Life With Munchers

    This is so true! I just attended a party where the parent thought it wise to turn the lights out on a room of 3 year old and put disco lights on (cue crying). Then only when they just stopped, bring in a dress up peppa pig…more tears. I’m sure it looked good on paper! x

  3. Time to be an Adult

    Sounds a pretty good party to me. I was at a 3 yr old’s party where the mum had spent the last two weeks staying up into the early hours to make a pirate ship and treasure chest out of cardboard and papier mache ready for the goodie bag treasure hunt.
    The ship got torpedoed within the first 10 minutes by a hoard of mini pirates and a little girl refused to hand over “her” treasure chest. The birthday boy burst into tears when his cake was cut up and everyone cried when they were made to walk the plank (a sheet of cardboard on the floor).
    The only good thing was that I got a grown up goodie bag of a mini bottle of wine and some chocolate!

  4. Emma T

    Our first birthday party for N was age 3. Well, actually it was a non-birthday party as he’d just had his cousin round for tea for his actual birthday, and I wanted to just invite the kids round to play in the garden come summer.

    All good, but worked out even better when I won the Nursery raffle to win a party (fully catered including party bags) at the nursery tree house/forest school. No way I’d have paid for it (well, maybe I would), but it was fab. So much easier as all we had to do was turn up, put up decorations, take a cake (I did cupcakes) and let the kids play. Oh and tidy up which thankfully everyone helped with.

    Definitely the way to go…must start entering for next year’s party!

    1. Katie Post author


      And loved your comment ‘No way I’d have paid for it (well, maybe I would)’ You SO would have! ;)

  5. My Travel Monkey

    Hah hah hah! I can totally relate. As I’ve been on the other side – the alcohol is always a winner. Monkey is 3 in a few weeks. I am too scared to put on a proper party for him. Plus he hasn’t got many friends anyway. I like it that way… for now! :) The Cars cake is really quite fab. Mine’s asked for a Peppa cake. Don’t even know where to begin…

  6. ToddlerSlave

    Hahaha! Ahhhhh I empathise! I have been planning Boo’s 3rd bday party for months already and it’s not until bloody January! The cost is physically painful! And I’ve been having dreams (nightmares) about the disney castle cake I’ve promised! And I’ll be 38 weeks pregnant!!! Well planned I’m sure you’ll agree! All worth it though as you say ;) and I’m looking forward to living off beans on toast all next year! Xx

    1. Katie Post author

      Um are you mental?!?! ;)
      My mum made a fairy castle cake one, use upside down ice cream cones for the turrets #toptip

  7. M&D

    I really enjoyed reading it! Shared it on FB and TW.

    I’ll tell you a secret, the older they are the easier the parties are. At least it was for me. By the age 10 they don’t bother with party bags. They want some specific party i.e. swimming pool, bowling and alike. It costs more but save your nerves :) . As for the cake – I’m in the camp who order. Well, I know, know, cost, skills (show off ;) ) and so on. But I don’t stress out, I really like making designs and it could be anything you could imagine (I would never be able to make McQueen, I think) and when kids see it they’re so happy.

    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you! Looking forward to when they get a bit older and doing bowling parties, although i can’t possible see how anything they came up with would cost more than last saturday! x

      1. M&D

        Well… there are costs and there are costs… One – in time and efforts, another in money. And to be honest, I don’t know what’s harder, being stressed about money you don’t have of being stressed and tired preparing every little thing for the party yourself…

  8. Katie @mummydaddyme

    Haha so funny. We had our first proper party for LL and Mads this year and while I loved doing the little details, if we are honest it was for me not for them at this stage! ;) And as for a cake, you need to get yourself a friend whose a cake maker- she did ours for free and they were amazing! ;)

    1. Katie Post author

      I can’t do that! My mum always baked our cakes so its a right of passage, plus the imperfections are what show the love right ;) x

  9. Carie

    Well firstly that cake looks fantastic so I think you’re completely justified in running around showing it to everyone on your phone! I’ve not yet dared to do a proper party – we’ve had people around to our house for first birthdays but that doesn’t really count – and I’m still trying to decide whether this is the year or not, it rather depends how much time I get between having a newborn and having a four year old but if not this year then next year our number will be up!

    1. Katie Post author

      You can totally get away with a smaller at home job at 4, and you have a better excuse than many! Basically small kids parties just happen as a result of their parents getting carried away with themselves ;)

  10. mummygadgetgeek

    Ah dammit I so should not have read this right now, as I sit surrounded by half made wigwams, bunting and a cake design that kind of just looks like a lot of frantic scribbles (it pretty much is just a lot of frantic scribbles)…

    Good call on the alcohol though. I’ll add it to the ‘must get’ list!

    1. Katie Post author

      Ha ha well you will know better for next year ;) Best of luck and yet get yourself to Aldi if you can! x

  11. Julia Rainbeaubelle

    That is so true, we did our own church h all party for son’s third birthday. Hired an entertainer with a puppet dog who made him cry and led him it have a meltdown every time said entertainer’s name was mentioned for the next two years! still! it was more fun for the parents than sitting in a soft play, which is what I’ve done for each subsequent party, due to laziness! X

  12. Alison (A Fine Piece & A Blether)

    For B’s 4th birthday last year, we had 21 kids in the church hall. And a 17 day old baby. My 17 day old baby. I really wanted to give her an amazing party because everyone attention had been on her new baby brother, and from that point of view I’m glad we did it, but by the end I just wanted to lie down in a darkened room with a bottle of gin (neither of these things happened). This year she’s getting a soft play centre party!!

  13. Dean of Little Steps

    I almost didn’t want to read this post. It’s little T’s 4th birthday on Tuesday and we’re having her birthday party on Saturday at a play-barn (with ball-pit etc…), so we’re not doing any party-games… But that still won’t lessen the stress I’m feeling right now… Ugh. Dare I say it aloud? I’m actually dreading it! There, I said it!

    1. Katie Post author

      Ha ha Dean you will be fine! Orgnised entertainment makes it so much easier as you can get on with the food, drinks and chatting to people while they play. Best of luck and see you on the other side ;) x

  14. Leila Boukarim

    After the madness I went through for my son’s 3rd birthday party, my father took a video of me in the aftermath, and promised to show it to me every year a few days before the birthday. A wise move by a loving father.

  15. julie

    Well done – you did good! When your boy turns five please pop over to my blog and get in touch – I run a kids’ party shop and would LOVE the chance to provide some cool party items to make your son’s 5th party superbly-pleasantly-awesomely memorable too. Hope you’re keen :-) x

  16. Donna

    Great post! This is why LP is not having a proper party this year and she can wait until next year – she doesn’t care anyway and has approximately three friends. Instead we are having a family barbecue and her three friends can all cause havoc in the garden! x

  17. Mummy Tries

    We threw our eldest a big party four years on the trot, and just couldn’t face doing it this year. I agree that a good hostess will always provide booze for the adults… although most don’t have more than half a beer or a few sips of wine. I’ve never understood this personally, as kids parties can be dull as dishwater without a drink.

    There’s also something about the hype of the day for the birthday boy/girl that usually turns them into little monsters. Totally agree that it’s the perfect contraception!

    How funny that the dog taking a crap is still hot news in your house four days later :)

  18. Franglaise Mummy

    Oh dear god, it is so bad, isn’t it? We let L have one last big birthday bash for her 6th birthday as her baby sister had arrived just 3 weeks beforehand, since then I’ve banned all big parties and it’s small activities now with a 2-3 good friends – far better! Poor C though, as a second child she is having ZERO birthday parties as I can’t go through the above nightmare!

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