Birthday parties aren’t meant to be disastrous. Like holidays. Top-up fibs embellish what would otherwise be a well forgotten event. Too much time and effort has been invested to admit otherwise, and anyway most of the time my family and I try to look on the bright side.
Until now. Life’s too short not to say it like it really is. So here I am laying bare some of my proud and not so proud birthday moments.
When he was much younger (last year), my son had some friends over for a birthday party. They were in three different schools but we thought they’d get on ok. The Hobbit themed cake I spent a day and an evening baking and decorating, sat there resplendent with its white icing, reflecting the candlelight that lit up the darkened room. What could possibly go wrong?
Last year’s HOBBIT themed cake
The Birthday Boy breathed in deeply and blew out the candles. At the same time he sneezed. A gloop of snot, the size of a slug, launched itself from his nose and described a perfect arc before landing next to a Gandalf Lego minifigure. Apart from the phlegm which had been growing in his nasal passages for the previous two weeks, a fine spray of germs had now been released from behind their bacterial plug and rained down over all the icing. Ignoring this, a knife was hurriedly found, and the offending slime lump was expertly excised from the icing as well as a good portion of the writing I had carefully inscribed on it the night before.
The parents who had arrived early to collect their children, flattened themselves against the wall. As I approached them brightly with slices of my delicious carrot cake and buttercream filling, they shrank back even further and tried to hide their look of horror. Not one of them ate my cake.
However, the afternoon HAD started promisingly.
This is what we were going to do with the children:
- De-bounce them with a planned treasure hunt in the garden
- Play games: including a Fun Quiz and a Lego building competition.
- Make your own pizza
- Birthday Cake
This is what happened:
1. De-bouncing postponed as it rained cats and dogs – surprising for February in England.
2. During the Quiz, the boys put themselves into teams with their school friends. Big mistake not to mix them up. A boy on Team A yelled “liar” at DS in Team B, then shouted, “let’s not play this anymore, they’re frashing us!” Lots of finger pointing and junior swearwords.
3. The Lego building competition went much better. At first. One of Team B’s boys said that one of Team A’s had been stealing their pieces. That was it! From then on it was downhill with fisticuffs, puce faces, much more yelling and stomping off.
4. Make your own pizza. Great idea. Forgot of course that at 3pm, they were still digesting their lunch, and too full to eat any of the piles of toppings we’d spent much money and time buying and preparing.
We’ve wised up. Here’s the perfect recipe for a boy’s birthday party:
- Take them OUT for a pizza (many restaurants will give you a special deal that ends up not much more expensive than bought ingredients, carpet cleaner and the cost of dry cleaning upholstery)
- Back home and straight into garden to de-bounce; rain or shine, flood or ice. (What weather?!)
- Games with teams players to be decided in advance, and choose the rowdier kids to be the leaders so they aren’t all in same team. Ask a step-daughter (like mine) or friend who has a teaching qualification and/or a loud voice to supervise.
i. Ritz cracker or After Eight on tilted back forehead of each child. They have to manoeuvre it into their mouth using only facial muscles. Great fun to do as well as to watch and cheer from the sidelines.
ii. Chinese whispers in a circle. Hilarious results and great fun for adults too.
iii. Wink murder. Everybody gets a go as detective and murderer.
- Home-baked theme cake, made as snot-free as possible.
- Alcohol and food for parents as an incentive to come earlier and help.
This year’s MINECRAFT cake with candles for torches
We had one child, you know, ONE OF THOSE, who was rather
a nightmareover-enthusiastic during the party, and then pushed next to my son and blew out some of his candles. I thought there’d be an argument, but DS just rolled with it and said to me later he’d already mentally struck him off next year’s birthday party list.
I knew the cake was a success when all the kids gathered around it and one boy exclaimed,
“If you keep cutting down with the knife you’ll hit BEDROCK!”
“ooh can I have one of the Lapis Lazuli blocks please?”
And a third,
“I really want one of the creepers, is that ok, Jo?”
And then they all pretended the creeper had detonated and they mimed a huge explosion.
Some of the parents arrived early and, this year, a few even risked eating the cake.
Next time … money saving tips for birthdays and ideas for themed cakes