How not to throw a birthday party

Posted Tuesday 18th June 2013   By Ericka Waller

So Thing-two is three. At her request, we organised a traditional party for her. We took her into town beforehand and let her try on every dress in the (sale) department of Debenhams, till she found one which was ‘twirly’ enough.

As it was her birthday I even gave in and let her get some party shoes that were obviously far too big.

The husband and I spent the week before working out how to make the party a success. Him: “Must do food for the grown-ups. I hate lurking about hoping the kids will leave a soggy sandwich I can eat.”
Me: “We must not clear up till everyone has left.”
Him: “But if we don’t start clearing up, no one will leave.”
Me: “True, but we don’t want to be like Philip’s dad. He got out a penknife and started stabbing all the balloons bang on 3pm.”
Him: “True”
Me: “And we must have music, good music. None of that Disney crap.”
Me: “Sandwich fillings?”
Him: “Whatever is easiest. They won’t get eaten anyway.”
Me: “Crisps, party rings, cupcakes and cheese it is then. OOooh, shall I make the cheese squares into a hedgehog?”
Him: “Really? You would spend two hours doing that yet you can never find time to iron my work shirts?”

We planned the  on-line shopping to be delivered at 12pm. We’d had the cake made, bought the dress, everything was sorted and we were feeling smugly organised. Until about two hours before the party was due to start. Then the husband said “Party bags?”

Of course I had not remembered bloody party bags.
“Argh! No!! No, I’ve not remembered poxy party-bags. Do people still expect them?”
“Oh yes.”
He offered to go and get them for me. (Don’t swoon. It’s only because I can’t be trusted in 99p shops. I get too excited by all the reduced cleaning products and spend hundreds of pounds.)

“Be quick!”
“No problem. How many am I catering for.”
“Um, about forty-five”
“You’ve invited forty-five kids to the party?”
“Plus siblings.”
“Tell me you are joking. She does not even play with anyone at nursery. She spends the whole time on Joy’s lap (the teacher) hidden under a blanket. Is Joy coming?”
“Um, no. I forgot to invite her. Just stop talking and go and get the bags, then get back so I can put them together and load the food into the car.”

One hour later

“Where are you?”
“I’ve had a break down.”
“What? It’s only the 99p shop for God’s sake. Pull yourself together.”
“Not me, the car. The car has broken down.”

He makes it back with twenty minutes to spare before kick off.  The car had to be abandoned, but luckily for us the party was being held in the gym next to our house. I throw things into party bags and load up the children like pack-horses. It’s only going to take fifteen trips to and from to get all the food and bags there.

We were still blowing up balloons when people arrived, my i-pod refused to find any service to play my painstakingly prepared playlist, but all in all things were going well. The children were having fun. Parents were chatting. We’d pulled the party out the bag.

Most importantly, Thing-two was having a ball jumping up and down on the bouncy castle, giggling with delight as her twirly skirt rose up round her middle with each leap.

We stood together watching her. I rested my head on the husband’s shoulder and thought “This is one of those precious moments to take a mental snap-shot of and remember forever.”

Then I noticed that she was not wearing any knickers.