…or, more precisely, this is about the politics of parties. Toddler’s parties.
Little T turns 3 in December & I have found planning his party this year somewhat of a headache. Obviously, if it were in the summer, I could rent a bouncy castle & chuck the children outside for the afternoon while the mummies drank G&Ts & enjoyed the sunshine (weather dependant obvs – for the bouncy castle, not the G&T; that’s an all weather drink!) but doing this in December is frowned upon by some – again, I mean the bouncy castle, not the gin.
Last year, we decided it would be cheaper to do it ourselves & had a grown-up/children’s party at home. It was lovely, but chaotic & certainly not cheaper!
We said ‘open house from noon’ to the grown-ups, but children between 3-5pm so we could play party games, sing Happy Birthday & cut the cake etc. I hadn’t considered how the average 2 year old would react to pass-the-parcel & lots of tears ensued when each child had to actually pass the parcel on, as the name suggests! We also played musical bumps & musical statues, for which there was barely enough space in our lounge (& again, got lost in translation with most of the little guests!). I spent 2 days making a Mickey Mouse cake & preparing food for the children & adults, as we’d been to parties where the adults didn’t get fed & were often starving! I was determined not to be ‘the mother who serves junk food’ & sliced crudités until I could barely feel my fingers. My mother-in-law made sausage rolls & bought crisps. I bet you can’t guess which of these were left almost entirely untouched & put into stir-fries for almost a week afterwards?!
I get a bit over-excited with parties in general & insisted that we decorated the whole downstairs of the house & bought helium balloons to make it extra special & it was, although certainly didn’t end up the ‘budget’ option that was required 3 weeks before Christmas!
As the children who came last year are now a full 12 months bigger, it is unlikely they’d fit into our house & so we decided to outsource. We booked it at the local leisure centre, where they put out the soft-play equipment, trikes & bikes & have a bouncy castle. It worked out to be pretty reasonable cost-wise, at £60 for the room hire. The maximum number that the room holds is 25, which sounded like plenty, so we booked it & paid the deposit. It’s funny what a difference a year makes & this year I have no qualms about being ‘the mother who serves junk food’ – it’s not everyday (well, in our house it isn’t) & at least I know it’ll get eaten!
Then I considered who to invite:
We have friends with children, who’s parties Little T has attended in the last year, so obviously they get an invite – that’s just manners & reciprocation.
Some of these children now have brothers or sisters, so they should probably be invited too (is it rude not to – I am unsure of the etiquette!).
We have NCT friends, who’s little ones are around the same age as Little T & we see regularly, so they get invited too.
This group adds up to 12 children.
Now the tricky bit. Little T started pre-school in September & almost every week we have had an invite to a child’s party. Now, I would like Little T to grow up surrounded by good friends & we really like the pre-school he is attending, so the chances are that for the foreseeable future, this will be his peer group. If we turn down an invitation, I hate the thought of him being ostracised & left out, because he wasn’t there (I’m willing to admit there is a proportion of this down to FOMO, but it is a medical condition I have no control over). On the other hand, if we accept every invitation it will work out in the region of £250 to buy each child a £10 book token (my default present option, as we don’t know the children, or how old they are). Obviously, the right decision is that we attend if we are able.
When I asked Little T’s pre-school teacher if he had any particular friends he might want to invite, she stated that they don’t like children to be left out & that she would give me a list of all of the children that are there in the morning sessions. I asked if this was broken down into the children who actually attended with him, as he only does 2 sessions & she said they were split into morning & afternoon classes & that was that. Little T – unsurprisingly, as he’s only spent 6 hours a week for 6 weeks with these children – wasn’t much help at telling me which children he was with for his 2 sessions (although, to be fair to him, he did remember quite a few names!). There are 20 children in the morning sessions.
Suddenly the maximum of 25 was looking pretty low.
There is no way I can invite all of the children from nursery & all of the children who we actually know & stay within the 25 children limit. We can’t leave out children who’s parties we have attended, either from pre-school or in our social circle & we cant expect parents with younger children to ditch them for the morning.
I thought long & hard (& chatted to a few mummy friends) & hatched a plan. The party is next Sunday & I have only sent the invites out this week, in the hope that people may already have plans & won’t be able to make it. Don’t judge me.
Unfortunately, karma (well actually, my own lack of forethought) has already tripped me up slightly, as I forgot to put an RSVP date on – forgetting that I couldn’t chase the tardy ones by text, as I can my actual friends, so I am in the slightly awkward position of needing to confirm final numbers & have received only one reply from pre-school. Probably serves me right doesn’t it?!