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The Birthday Party Beast: From Toddler-hood Into Childhood

DIY Magic School Bus InvitationsFor those of you (like me), who are new to the whole birthday party beast, in that once your child starts going to school everything changes, then c’mover here and lets cuddle a bit.

Last month it suddenly occurred to me (while at a friend’s b-day party for her twins and 20 of their school chums), that gone were the days of having one party with friends and family, some of whom may have children to accompany the birthday kid in their raucous.

My mind raced with possibilities…how did other parents do it? Did they just have a simple cake or cupcake after dinner for their kid on the actual day and then a party with their kids’ school friends? What about grandparents, aunties and uncles who were accustomed to celebrating each year? In our case – we have sponsors to think of too.

In being honest with ourselves, we the parents still wanted that party too. The one with family and friends outside of the school-yard. I suppose as the years pass these lines will blur, but for now we’re fine with having two parties. (Sure we say that know! I perfectly aware of how naive I may be.) This year will be a very special one for Wyndham as we’re making the friends and family celebration his Walking Out Ceremony wherein we lift him up in a traditional Native ceremony to honour him and support him in this huge milestone; officially walking from toddler-hood into child-hood.

Birthday Party Etiquette & 5 Tips

  1. Is there such a thing? Yes, I think there is. If you want any kids to actually show up to your nugget’s party that is. Once your child hits the school years, you best be planning that party a month well in advance. Families are busy on the weekend and most of them have their weekends called for weeks in advance. So – get those invites distributed (you know, actually in the hands of the parent(s), at least 4 weeks ahead of time. I mean, you can do whatever you want to do, but I did this going on the advice of my neighbour with slightly older kids than Wyndham as well as his teacher, who is basically an angel sent from the place makes superior humans who are way cooler and better with children than you or I could ever hope to be. Seriously that woman is better than Mrs Frizzle reincarnated.
  2. Talk to your child’s teacher about how to hand out the invitations. Some schools have rules about giving you a list of names and numbers (you know, privacy and what-not), so you have to be creative about it since preschoolers/kindergarteners are so young. Asking them to accurately spout off to you all of the names of the kids in their class that they’d like to invite to their party will likely result in forgotten friends. We worked with Wyndham’s teacher and she discreetly made a list with him and put the invites in the kids’ special ziploc bags (in their knapsacks), that they each have for notes and letters and such. Do you invite the whole class? Sure if you’re loco. I know it will feel weird not including everyone (it did for me), but you get over that as soon as you imagine 20 or so toddlers running around under your care. Because parents usually just drop their kids off to the party. They don’t stay and help unless you’re already friends and you asked them to. Which brings me to my next tip…
  3. Ask for help. Delegate. Ask someone else to make/get the cake/cupcakes perhaps and have some back-up at the party in adult form.
  4. Plan a fun theme and activities. You don’t have to get all Pinterest-y about it, but yes…if you plan on entertaining a group of kindergarteners, you best have something good going on. Opting to slap some crayons and colouring books on the table? You’ll have problems. Trust me. Also? If you’re going to be the awesome parent to rent a bouncy castle, make sure you have someone to man that shit. A bunch of toddlers in a bouncy castle can be bad news betty if not supervised. Only 10 in the castle allowed at a time! You can do this! (Also related, have a good reserve of beer and or wine for after the party.
  5.  Avoid all the sugar-y treats! Yes this is a special time. Making a celebration special doesn’t mean loading a bunch of kids up on white sugar. If you do, the result will be special alright. Have fun with that. Toddlers, especially when joined in group force for something as exciting as a birthday party are going to be wild enough. Besides, you can totally make delicious, low-sugar or refined sugar free cakes and cupcakes. Or purchase them as such. You’re welcome.

That’s it! For the seasoned…have I forgotten anything? How do you do it?

If you like the look of those Magic School Bus invitations and your kid is hooked on that show, you can find a free printable (invites) on my blog for your own kid’s birthday party!

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More Babbles From Selena…

Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all the time geek. 

Elsewhere on the internets…

Via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve

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