“Let’s have a party!”, I said, with naive enthusiasm.
“Yes”, said my son Sam’s mum, ”something small.”
I don’t like the word ‘small’. I’m a BIG person, with a BIG appetite and a BIG mouth.
“Not that small. We want a day to remember”, I insisted.
“Yes, a small day to remember.”
“We’ll figure out the details later”, I suggested.
That woman has more wisdom than a host of Solomon’s. We ended up with a small-ish party and it almost killed me. I swear next year we’re just going to show Sam a photo of a birthday cake and that’ll be it…
1: The party is not for the child.
It’s for the adults who’ve survived a year with a child. Rather than being called a ‘Birthday Party’ it should be named a ’365 days without accidentally damaging your baby party’.
2: There will always be too much food.
I want to be a good host – part of which includes ensuring no guest leaves feeling hungry. That said, guessing the size of appetite possessed by a group of grannies, new mums and their tots is an almost impossible task. I totally miscalculated, leaving a table that looked like my local Iceland was suffering a power cut and I’d cooked everything in their freezers.
3: Any salad is too much salad.
Nobody ever touches salad at a children’s party, but it HAS TO BE THERE – it’s the law! If I ever get on Dragons’ Den, my big idea will be inflatable bowls of salad, that are placed on trestle tables to provide colour, then deflated to be used again. Genius eh?
4: People aren’t really up for alcohol at midday.
By the time the party started, I was so stressed that I quite fancied a drink – whether the sun was over the yard arm or not! The difficulty is getting someone else to drink with you. Grannies are no help in this case, or granddads for that matter (stern looks from their better halves ensure this), while other parents are reticent as a mid-afternoon hangover (while looking after a youngster) is no fun at all. In this situation I found myself necking champagne making loud comments about not remembering the last time I drank during the day – to avoid any rumours of a perennial G & T with This Morning each morning emerging
5: Babies love boxes.
The sad truth is that no matter how amazing the present is, the baby will always prefer the box it comes in.
6: I am no longer a raconteur.
Before Samuel’s arrival, I laboured under the deluded belief that I was something of a gifted conversationalist. I put myself as somewhere between Clive James and Peter Ustinov as a witty chatterbox that might give Parky reason to resurrect his chat show just to hear my anecdotes. At the party I realised these days had gone. My conversation is now limited to Sam and sleep. I started chatting to a friend I haven’t seen in some months and within seconds I was recounting my son’s bowel movements.
7: Agree the baby’s name in advance.
Before you break into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You… announce to the crowd how the child’s name will be used. Sam’s full name is Samuel, a two syllable word, which fits in with the two syllable gap left in the fore-mentioned song. The shortened version ‘Sam’ is only one syllable and can lead to an awkward lengthening of the name to ‘Sa.. am” – which the pedant in me hates. We found a clash of ’Samuel’s and ’Sa… am’s during our birthday song which I’m sure Gareth Malone would’ve hated.
8: Name badges are great.
Remembering names can, at the best of times, be a struggle for us all. A kid’s birthday party can be particularly taxing in this department, where most people don’t know each other. We didn’t give out name badges, but I wish we had done.
9: Have a post-party, party.
Sam’s mum and I were so EXHAUSTED by the time the party and the accompanying festivities were done that we needed a holiday. That wasn’t on the offing, but we did treat ourselves to a bottle of prosecco, a takeaway and half a movie – a major party for us. As any parent knows, I say ‘half a movie’ because we never have the stamina to sit up through a whole film.
10: Sam’s 2nd birthday will be small affair – tiny.
Next year Sam’s birthday will be on a completely different scale. I enjoyed the experience for his first outing, but from now on we’ll be going smaller. I just don’t have the energy for anything else. Seriously, a year is nowhere near long enough to recuperate.