My youngest is 12 this week. In our house, organised parties usually end around this time. This means that I can (almost) hang up my party organising boots. Thirty six parties later and with all the inevitable planning, invites, rice krispie buns, birthday cakes, tidy ups and party bags that this involves I reckon this makes me (along with every other parent in the world) something of an expert! It got me thinking back over the years to assess what made for a memorable party and therefore a memorable childhood, which is after all the reason we do it at all. The parties broadly seem to fall in to a number of categories.
The AT HOME party
In the beginning (partially due to the non-stop guilt that comes with motherhood) I felt all parties should be done at home. Endurance tests. With home-made invites and ma and pa being chief entertainers, chefs, bar staff, snot wiper uppers (there is always one that cries), pass the parcel wrappers (with a sweet/candy in between each layer), DJ’s, treasure hunt writers, makers of pin the wort on the witch, (for the Halloween party), makers of pin the tiara on the princess (fairy princess party, of course), face painting, you get the idea.
We had a few disco parties, a few teddy bear parties (musical teddy statues, teddy bumps etc) and lots and lots of dress up Halloween parties (that’s what you get when your childs birthday is November 1st). Many of these had witches themes with games such as Witches cackle, witches footsteps, and witch Frogalina says. (no Simon in our house !)
Top of the list in terms of me being ridiculous goes to the 2004 Pirate Olympic games party which featured tickets rather than invites, an opening ceremony, events included Races: hopping, 100m dash (will never forgoet that one, there was nearly World War III and the judges decision was NOT final!), Limbo, Gymnastics events included best cartwheel, handstand, artistic floor show. The day concluded with the lighting of the olympic flame (birthday candles), closing ceremony and prize giving: medals for all of course, together with my piéce de resistance a wreath just like a real Olympian (made from a beautiful tree in the garden where we lived at the time) for all participants to take home.
The AT HOME WITH HELP party
Then we progressed: stay at home but have some help in the entertainment department.
These parties ranged from having Silly Billys in to amuse when they were little, to Playball when they were a bit older to the entertainer Reuban when they were older again and could appreciate some politely rude jokes!
The I DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN UP AT ALL party
The mania and exhaustion of even the hire-in entertainment parties, which still required the food prep and the BIG CLEAN UP gave way to a couple of years of going out and having others do all the work. These ranged from a cooking party where pizzas were made and buns iced to multiple cinema excursions.
The AT HOME party again
As the girls got older and more in control of events themselves, things went full circle back to the stay at home party with them having a big input into things themselves. These parties ranged from Hollywood and X factor style parties where the girls dressed up as their favourite celebs to a pyjama/ beauty salon party to outdoor games in the garden such as giant twister and limbo (which later became high jump: they were a very competitive lot)
IF IN DOUBT ASK THE EXPERTS
I certainly can’t recall all of the various parties that we’ve had over the years and the above thoughts are merely my biased recollections. So I decided that this wasn’t good enough and that I would ask the experts: my daughters, as to what is /was in their opinion the best bits. The results are as follows
Best Party: Hollywood!
Best Venue: House parties (I swear I did not bribe them, they say they can remember them all clearly whilst the cinema ones etc all blend into one)
Colin the Caterpillar, shop bought. No contest (despite years of making chocolate brownies, ice cream castles and other such concoctions). Added bonus of, if it’s your party you get to eat the face.
THE COP-OUT PARTY
This year I have totally copped put. The party is being shared with my daughters 2 good friends and we have booked the Viking Splash Tour (for those not in the know this involves Vikings who show you the sites and scenes of the capital city in a World War II amphibious vehicle that eventually ends up in the water in Dublins Docklands) This will be followed by a pizza. The kids made their own (really cool) invites. The other mothers did the booking of the tour and the restaurant (hence I really have done absolutely nothing in preparation). My only task was to provide the birthday cakes. The request from those who must be obeyed (the kids that is not the other mums, don’t get me wrong!) was for 3 cakes, purchased in Marks and Spencers NOT home-made. So I did. And then with the time that I should have been baking cakes I went to the hairdressers and pondered on how times have changed. When I got home I got a phonecall from the hairdressers to say I had left the 3 cakes behind. If that is not an indication of how much my time is up I don’t know what is. The verdict on the Viking Splash/pizza party will be returned by this time tomorrow. No doubt, after many years of hard slog and this year after doing absolutely nothing, it will be “THE BEST PARTY EVER”!
PS If you have any great party stories, please do share.
PPS As all of my birthday parties were for girls, please feel free to add some boys ideas…
Want more info…
Silly Billy http://www.sillybilly.ie/
Junior chef cookery school http://juniorchef.ie/
Viking splash http://www.vikingsplash.com/