<%-- Page Title--%> Straight Talk <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 155 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 21, 2004

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Not another Party!

Nadia Kabir Barb

I have just had my eldest daughter's birthday party and I am relieved to say it is the last one of this year. All three of my children have their birthdays during the first half of the year and then I am off duty as far as party organising is concerned for the latter half of the year! For those of you who are raising an eyebrow and thinking to yourself, "Huh, kid's party how hard can that be!" let me assure you that arranging and surviving one of these birthday parties is no mean feat. Please tell me that it is not just me and that other parents are nodding their head in agreement! You really do have to have the organisational skills of an army general and also possess nerves of steel.

These days a birthday party does not necessarily comprise of a few class friends playing a few party games and eating cake. There are a multitude of themes that one can choose from depending on the age and temperament of the child whose party it is and also the budget of the parents. For the younger children, you can book a couple of hours at activity centres where the children get to have fun in a soft play area consisting of climbing frames, ball ponds, slides etc. and then have their meal afterwards. This is less stressful than having twenty children running around in the house. On the other hand you could hire a hall or book a restaurant and have an entertainer who would be required to perform magic, do balloon modelling, face painting and even have a puppet show. I decided to have my youngest daughter’s 5th birthday party at home and hired an entertainer. She was extremely good at her job if somewhat neurotic. Not that I could blame her trying to hold the attention of 25 five year olds for almost two hours was almost too much to ask but Mrs. Sparkle lived up to her promises.

If you have boys between the ages of 7-10, there are countless things you can do. Starting from swimming parties, to ice skating, bowling, to football parties. My son's party was a different prospect altogether as I did not even contemplate for even a minute having 20 eight-year-old boys rushing around the house wreaking havoc. Call me a coward but there is such a thing as self preservation! In this case I booked his party at one of our nearby sports centres. We were given two rooms, one where the boys had their food after their activities and also a hall where the organisers supervised games and races for the boys. By the time they came to eat they were all exhausted but in great spirits. To my surprise I had to do absolutely nothing. The party organisers waited on the boys and went around the table with the food and even after we cut the cake the lady in charge told me that they would take care of serving the pieces of cake to the boys and we should sit and relax! What luxury.

Last but not least was my eldest daughter's birthday. Obviously being possessed of a masochistic streak, I decided to have her party at home. Eleven year old girls are a totally different kettle of fish. They are at that stage where they are at the cusp of entering into adolescence and don't want to do things which their peers may find childish. However this does not detract form their enjoyment of balloons, prizes and piñatas. For this party there were no party organisers or entertainers (unless you consider my husband and me, a source of entertainment for the girls). This time we were flying solo, so to speak. We spent ages agonising over which party games would be fun and not too childish, whether to have this cake or that cake but on the day things went even better than I had anticipated. The party games were a hit. One of them was pass the parcel. It was actually a cuddly toy with a zip pocket where we had written dares on scraps of paper such as 'Imitate you teacher telling off the class for sleeping through her lesson' or 'impersonate Michael Jackson doing a moon dance while singing a song'. The person holding the toy when the music stopped had to pick a piece of paper and if they could carry out the tasks, they won a prize and the last one got the "big prize". All in all the girls genuinely seemed to have had fun. In fact I was touched when I received a little note from one of my daughter's friends which contained the following message, 'Thank you so much for the excellent party. I had so much fun! Thank you very much for the party bag…' In times when it seems to be a necessity to come up with more and more novel and interesting ideas for parties, our traditional one with the balloons and party games really seemed to have appealed.

I am going to pat myself on the back and say that for at least this year it has been a job well done.


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