Picture the scene…you wake up on a glorious Saturday morning and plans are forming in your mind for how the first day off in a month is going to go down.
It’s been a stinker of a week at work and you finally get the chance to chill, have a lazy breakfast in your PJ’s, spend time with the family, and there’s a classic afternoon of sports lined up!
Today’s the day your four-year-old will start his hockey education direct from your sofa.
But hang on a minute! You’re not the only one who’s secretly been looking forward to the weekend. Just as you strut into the kitchen looking quite pleased with yourself, your wife glides past and straight out of left field, proclaims she’ll be out all day with her “bestie” and that you’ll be taking your son to his friend’s birthday party today.
Like a magician, she slides an invitation into your hand and gives you a sly look that says “your turn, dear!”. Just as you open your mouth to protest you know she’s got you! She disappears to get ready leaving you with “don’t be late, the gift and card are in the closet”.
As you listen to the shower turn on, you also hear the sound of your dreams for a perfectly chilled Saturday being washed down the plughole.
Fear not! Take heed of these ‘being dropped in it at the last minute’ survival tips for getting through a child’s birthday party…
Before The Child’s Birthday Party
This is where all those hours watching your favourite cop shows on Netflix will pay off. Make sure to find out some essential facts from, let’s call her, ’The Traitor’. Essential pre-birthday party questions include:
- Have we RSVP’d? You don’t want to show up when nobody is expecting you!
- Have we met the parents?
- What are their names?
- What type of party is it? – this will help with tip no.2. Any other information will help you here.
Knowledge is power!
2. Get Dressed!
In your mind, you’ve already dressed for the Saturday you intended to happen. But it’s a good idea to get out of those worn-out pants that have so many holes that they look like they’ve been the unwitting target of a game of pin the tail on the donkey.
At the same time, you don’t want to show up to a woodland den building party looking like you’re heading to Vegas for the weekend. You might meet these folks again at some point, so just make sure there’s only one donkey at the party that looks like an ass : )
3. The Early Bird
With the final words of The Traitor ringing in your ears you set off in good time; have a quick look over to make sure it’s only your own hopes and dreams that are left behind.
- Child – check
- Gift – check
- Invitation – check
- Pants – check
Just don’t arrive at the party too early, the host may not thank you for it. Chances are they’ll still be setting things up, taking family pictures, discussing which parents they’ve met, which ones they like, which child it is that always has boogers smeared across their face…Cue a quick check in the rear-view mirror to make sure it’s not yours!
Make the most of the time if you are early – now’s your chance to go over the offside rule you wanted to teach him during the game you’re now missing!
4. Re-Read The Child’s Birthday Party Invite
Before you go blazing into the sports hall or back yard where you hear the commotion, re-read the invite.
Make sure you’re in the right place. Don’t be that parent who took their kid to the wrong party! (the writer denies this ever happened).
After all, some of these big spaces have more than one party going on and, in your head, one group of wild-eyed sugar crazed kids look like the next, right?
When You Arrive At The Children’s Party
5. “What’s your name again?”
Now, you are likely to meet the hosts and other parents again at some point. Even if it’s to hold the door open at school collection time.
Here’s a trick that will help avoid that 1000-yard stare while you’re figuring out if it was Sarah, Sally, Sophie or Samantha that you chatted with at the party.
- Open the ‘notes’ function in your phone
- From time to time casually pretend to send an important text message, while instead you cleverly collate names and memorable information about your fellow guests!
Genius, I know. Just be careful not to be seen, this could also be confused with you being a bit odd. (again, the writer denies ever using this tactic). You could always opt for just paying more attention when talking to your cohorts!
6. The Chameleon
Have fun, mingle and catch up with folks, but let’s be clear, your one job here is to make sure your child comes home in one piece. This is where you need to become the ‘chameleon’. No, not by changing colour, but by always keeping one eye on your child. After all, you only want to be cutting glue from their hair the one time!
This also goes for making sure your little angel isn’t underneath the gift table, methodically unwrapping all the birthday presents.
7. The Wiggles
So you’ve already had your Saturday plans wash down the drain, and now you find yourself suddenly outside your comfort zone (the sofa). You may as well join in the games and dancing. After all, The Traitor always said you could fit right in as the fifth member of The Wiggles.
As The Children’s Birthday Party Winds Down…
8. The Exit Plan
Look out for tell-tale signs that the party is coming to an end.
- Check the time (like you’ve not already been looking every 3 minutes for the last half hour)
- Are things starting to be packed away?
- Have all the other parents got one eye on the door?
- Now’s the time to prep your little one to get ready to leave.
- 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 2 minute warnings work well, as does bribery or even blackmail. But that’s your call.
Just don’t be the last one there having to prise your child’s nails out the door frame because they don’t want to leave!
9. The Other Plan
Want to host a party that husbands and wives are fighting each other to attend? Now you’ve turned those loose acquaintances into your friends, recommend they have a Sprog & Sprocket party next year or even better, host one yourself!
There you have it. Your bulletproof, heavily-researched guide to surviving a last-minute child’s birthday party!