It turns out I can organise a party with punch for three year olds.
Miss Nearly Three turns Three this week and I’ve been panicking about her birthday party since she first shared the guest list with me… nine months ago.
As soon as she’d blown the candles out on Grandma’s cake last July, she started asking me what would happen for her birthday. I said we could have some friends over and eat cake, if she wished.
We’ve discussed it Every Single Day since.
Each time it’s been somebody else’s birthday, we’ve counted the months/days/weeks until hers, and discussed our plans. After day care there is always a new best friend to consider. Mummy and Daddy have come on and off the guest list depending on the number of Time Outs issued. But the need for cake has been a constant.
Somewhat naively, about a month ago, I sat down with Miss Nearly Three and the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book. I was inspired by my friend Shehana who posted the gorgeous work of art above on Facebook. We had a lovely afternoon looking through cakes and working out which one we’d make for the big party. And then I realised, I simply would not have time! I have not yet met a working mum with hours in her life for fabulously intricate baking. Except Shehana, and I’m seriously thinking about defriending her on Facebook.
So here’s what worked for me.
I did send out invitations, but since none of the kids can read, and I did it so late I had to text everyone anyway, I wondered why I didn’t just invite everyone by SMS? Cheaper than a stamp, they have all the details ready to hand and a reply SMS means the RSVP is done too.
This is a vexed issue. Too much sugar and you’re the bad mum who rotted all the other kids’ teeth. Not enough, and you’ve broken the kids’ hearts. We opted for a fruit plate upon arrival, some store bought mini-muffins and a round of coffees for the parents, help yourself juice for everyone and a sausage sizzle.
The sausage sizzle was not my idea, but when we attended a birthday party for Miss Nearly Three’s friend Oliver last weekend it appeared to us as genius. Our local Woolies had packs of 24 sausages for less than $10. Plenty of food, something adults and kids love and by slicing the bread into triangle halves there was no need for plates. Dishes done.
Tips to remember in determining numbers for your toddler party.
- DO NOT invite every small child mentioned in conversation over the previous nine months. You do not need two dozen toddlers in your home.
- DO NOT invite all of your adult friends with kids. You won’t get time to chat to them anyway, and kids in groups usually prefer ones close to them in age. Others get left out or ignored. Best see those friends one on one, like when you and your friends are having coffee and watching your differently-aged kids use a playground together.
- DO NOT, under any circumstances, believe your child when she says that someone is her best friend. This will change many times in the next few years, and almost immediately after you’ve finalised a guest list.
- Reinforce the good decisions. Remember to invite the parents you like and the kids you know your kid has enjoyed hanging with on several previous occasions. Talk about how exciting it will be to see them constantly.
- Above all, the rule about inviting the number of kids equal to your kids age seemed appropriate. So we doubled it.
The most important thing we’ve learned, from previous hosting experience, is to PUT AWAY THE PUZZLES! You will spend the next three weeks finding pieces wedged into your backside when you sit down to watch Grey’s Anatomy. You know I speak from experience on this one.
So we left out a few larger toys but put all the good stuff in the backyard. This worked on all the kids except for poor Sebastian, who remembered our paltry collection of Matchbox cars from a visit last December and spent the whole three hours looking for them.
I’m pretty sure that this was the highlight of Miss Nearly Three’s life so far. Even better than the zoo. Even better than the time she convinced me to put the car window down so she could yell out when I’m at 80ks an hour, “You’ll never find my shoes now, ha ha ha!” Yep, even better than that.
And it was all due to…. Michel’s Patisserie.
I realised a constant theme in the ever changing requests for cake was chocolate, so we went to Michel’s, flicked through the pictures and made a selection. Princesses of course. Only one day’s notice needed. The downside was that the one we wanted wasn’t available online as promised, so I needed some help to get to the shop. Annoying for working mums Michels! More expensive than homemade, but hours and hours of my life bought back. The kids loved it.
Last night, as I was patting a ridiculously over-tired little girl off to to sleep, she threw her arms around me and said, “Mummy thank you for my party. It was the best party ever.”