Prepare for the worst
Most likely there worst will not happen, but if you come to terms with all the things that could possibly go wrong, you are one step ahead of taking control of your stress. The obvious problems may be shenanigans between the invited adult guests where one party may be on the outs with another and refuses to attend if person A or B is on the guest list.
There is also a good chance that there are some problems with the invited guests. Perhaps your party date falls right on a popular vacation date and the best friends are out of town. Conversely, your other child may suddenly throw a tantrum and feel unhappy because she or he is no longer the center of attention.
Maybe on the day of the party you notice that you forgot to mail out the invites. Conversely, you are finding that you are becoming increasingly irritated with the birthday child’s attitude toward you and before long you find yourself muttering something along the lines of not being a cash machine.
Setting yourself up for the best
Now that you had a chance to brainstorm and think of the worst things that could possibly go wrong, it is time to set some goals and also prepare ahead of time to set yourself up for the best possible occasion.
- Planning is good. Getting any number of kids to move in the same direction, at the same time and on the same day requires meticulous planning. Put it down on paper, enlist help, and have backup activities if you believe that you might run out of entertainment halfway through the party.
- Theme the party. Themes have fallen by the wayside, but if you enlist the help of a theme, you do not have to rack your brain to come up with decorations and games. Instead, many themes naturally lend themselves to games and activities already.
- Do not give the invitations to your child to hand out at school, unless you are inviting the whole class. If your child gives invitations only to a select few, there will be hurt feelings. If you are keeping the numbers small, mail the invites or call the parents of the other children directly.
- Limit the number of kids that will attend the party. Although a free for all ensures a good turnout, the idea of inviting one child for each year of your child’s age is a good way of limiting the expense and chaos you might experience.
- Do not discount the stress your child will endure at the party. Depending on the age, your child may become over stimulated, tire out, and subsequently also begin acting out. In some cases, there may be hurt feelings over gifts or friends who suddenly pair off and leave your child out.
- Be honest with yourself about the comfort level of suddenly have 10 pint sized kids running through your home. If you don’t like the sound of this idea, consider enlisting an outdoor venue or visit one of the fast food locales that offer party packages with food, entertainment, and – best of all – cleanup!
- Keep the party short and sweet. Do not make it an all day affair but specify a starting an ending time. The younger the child, the shorter the duration of the party. This is a good rule of thumb to keep kids from acting out.
- Goodie bags are a must and there be sufficient bags for each child present, including the siblings. It should be a fun little item that says “thank you” to the kids for coming and helping your child celebrate.
After all is said and done, your child will not remember all the presents received, but more or less the experience. Make it as low stress and enjoyable as possible. Eliminate all the stressfulness as good as you can. Lastly, have fun!