The Birthday Party

Buttons that didn’t make the loot bags

Someone should have warned us.  Celebrating a 6-yr old boy birthday with eight other 4, 5 and 6 yr old boys in your backyard should be outlawed.  Growing up, I was only allowed to have a birthday party every other year (on my even years).  After this past Tuesday, I completely understand my parent’s thinking and applaud them loudly.

In hindsight, we should have restricted the count to match the age that Little T was turning and instead of having it at home, we should have forced the venue to be elsewhere, and we should have only made it for 30 minutes instead of 3 hours.  There is this in-door playground nearby that offers birthday parties – you just pay for each kid to get in and while they climb, jump, and bounce for 3 hours you can sit at a table with your feet up, read magazines, and sip cappuccinos.   Leading up to Little T’s party, I suggested this venue every day, but he INSISTED on having it at home.

Me being an obsessive planner, I actually wrote out a schedule for the party to ensure we had enough activities planned to keep these creatures entertained for 3 hours.  The itinerary looked like this:

3pm       Kids Arrive

                Face painting

                Balloon sword making

                Outside sword battle

                Draw an X on the treasure (similar concept to Pin the tail on the Donkey)

                Shark tag

                Take turns kicking the soccer ball into the net

                Pass the Pirate (hot potatoe)

                Hide and go seek

5pm       Sausages and birthday cake

                Gift Opening

5:30pm Pirate treasure hunt (where they find their loot bags in the treasure chest)

6pm       Boys are picked up

6:05pm Pour myself a tall glass of wine

The afternoon before the party, I blew up 15 balloons and almost passed out. Together, Little T and I filled the loot bags, until he started filling a few with more things because he liked those boys better.  At 9pm, while I baked a chocolate cake, Hubby drew a cool treasure map for the X game, wrote out six pages of clues for the treasure hunt and then lit the edges on fire to give them a cool scroll affect and set up the soccer net.  With the house decorated, the food bought, and my itinerary planned, I felt ready and prepared.

I couldn’t have been more naïve.

My first saving grace was that my friend had graciously agreed to help paint the kid’s faces to look like pirates, and make sword balloons (same friend that helped me when I sprained my ankle- she must be crazy!).  My second saving grace was that Hubby took the afternoon off to help out.  My third saving grace was that it wasn’t raining.  God help me if we had that party indoors.

Within 15 minutes after the kids arrived, the bowl of gummy bears and chips were devoured.  A half bowl of grapes remained, and they all kept asking when the cake was coming.  The cake wasn’t scheduled until 5pm (with the goal of having the kids go home when the sugar rush kicked in) but my friend, who has raised her kids in Germany and lived here many years prior to, explained that the custom was to serve the cake right after everyone arrived, and then open the gifts.  Yikes!

So, we served the cake and Little T opened his presents.  Immediately after, I found Little T in the corner of the living room alone playing with his new presents. I nicely explained to him that he couldn’t play with his new gifts until after his party.  He started to cry and demanded that everyone go home.  There was still 2 hours and 15 minutes to go.  I looked up at our china cabinet holding the wine glasses and was tempted.

The Face painting went over fairly well, but the balloon swords kept popping and within half an hour we were completely out and left with a few crying kids demanding another sword.  Only a few kids did the draw the x on the treasure, half the kids were bored with the shark tag, and even fewer liked the hot potatoe game. Two of the older boys kept sneaking off into Little T’s bedroom, and after my repeated attempts to shoo them downstairs I gave up after they made fun of my German.  My friend took over and they were outside in a flash.  At one point I looked outside and saw hubby standing inside the soccer net behind a board with open holes begging the boys to take shots on him.   It was only 4:30pm.  I ran upstairs to our bedroom and hid.

At 4:45pm as Hubby was desperately trying to separate two boys that were wrestling a bit too extremely, my friend organized a game where they all had to listen to her commands.  She had them hopping on one foot, running around in circles and down on the ground.  She is a smaller person like me, but she has the voice of authority.  The kind of person that would make an outstanding Kindergarten or any kind of teacher.  At 5pm Hubby brought out cooked sausages that the boys scarfed down in 5 minutes.  At 5:15pm we did the treasure hunt, and the boys were then entertained by their loot bags until 5:30pm.  Hubby had bought these tiny balls on a string that were in each loot bag.  Each of the boys managed to break theirs and all took turns coming to me demanding a new ball.  Later, we found all the gold foil from the chocolate coins scattered all over our lawn.  Lesson learned about the loot bags – just hand those evil things out a second before the kid leaves.

The last 30 minutes painfully ticked by as the boys got more and more aggressive with each other.   The sound of the doorbell was music to my ears.  I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as hard while I said my Tschüss! (Bye!) to each boy.  One minute after all the guests had departed, Little T was upstairs in his room quietly playing with his new toys, and Hubby poured us each a Grappa.  We sat on the couch and quietly looked at each other in horror.  My parents watched a good portion of the party over Skype and my mother wrote the next day to say she was still exhausted!

Next year, I’m offering Little T a fist full of cash and telling him he can buy whatever he wants for his birthday, or he can have a party but NOT at our house. 

Then again, he’ll be 7 years old.  Time to kick in the every- other- year party rule.

4 thoughts on “The Birthday Party

  1. Hilarious!!! I can tell you some horror stories… some other time over wine. But each year gets easier as you know what to expect and know what works and what does not work.

    My biggest mistake which I will live with for a few more years yet… at 8yrs old I let Sid have a sleepover with his friends for his bday party… so the fun lasted into the morning! OMG… he had a sleepover for his last one, but we limited it to 4 kids. And I got smarter… Carl took the kids to paintball, pizza hut and organized the gazibo into an outdoor movie theater. I did the morning shift. Next year I will limit the sleepover buddy to be one… if he even wants a party. But now I have Ced to organize (and guess what he has these darn sleepovers too) and Clay is anxious to have his party in August… cause guess what? He turns 8 and now gets to have a sleepover. YIKES!!!


  2. Oh my! I am exhausted as well just reading this. No one could ever believe what can happen at a children’s party unless you have personally experienced one. The issue of the birthday child wanting to go into a corner to play by themself is common. The other craziness is just as common. This is where a movie is very helpful. My big thing was making sure there was a balance between junk food treats and heathy snacks. A big tray of crudite along side the chips. My children were always mortified because I insisted on a balance of the two. Take heart Heather, there are almost twelve months before the next birthday extravaganza has to be decided and who knows a new kids’ play place might open up.


  3. You forgot to add that we don’t have a 1/2 acre of forest and a pool like we did in Canada. We have a big yard by German standards but that means 10 x 15 meters. 9 kids fill that up real fast! I was actually happy when 4 or 5 of them decided to dig a huge hole in the corner of the lawn- at least they were entertained for 20 minutes. I even tried letting them line up to punch me as hard as they could hoping this would reduce the potential for blood and tears amongst the guests but only the non-aggressive kids took me up on that so the WWF for the 6 and under crowd continued unabated.

    I want my 3 girls back!!!


  4. As you know we have four teenagers, so when they have a party, 300 beer drinkers show up. Good thing we have a few acres, ciao


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s