It’s not quite N’s 8th birthday yet, but tennis matches, swimming and other events, meant we brought his birthday forward a bit. I’d left planning it a bit late – he mentioned going to the Riverside Hub for a party back in December, but by the time I looked for dates, it seemed I was not just a few weeks short, but months short. I couldn’t find any weekend or holiday dates until May (when I gave up looking). Unless we wanted to go in the evening which isn’t great for children who live nearly an hour away.
So we changed it to taking 3 friends in the one car with us, and N was happy enough with that. A smaller number also means he sees more of his friends.
Benefits of a smaller party
- You can take them in one car instead of every parent having to travel
- You’re more in control
- Better for the birthday child actually being able to speak to their friends properly
- Not masses of gifts to deal with
- (N’s favourite) only a handful of thank you cards to write
- More choice of places to visit
- You don’t have the struggle and politics of having to invite a whole class or year group, or face the wrath of parents whose children weren’t in the selected half that size invite list.
- If you’re just going somewhere outside of a party package, you may have more flexibility over the time you have at the venue or what you can do while there.
The hub does get really busy with parties, so I contacted them to check if I could reserve a table, and whether we could bring a birthday cake in. They were fine with the cake and said if there weren’t tables available when we arrived, to ask and they’d help find us one suitable.
Fortunately when we arrived, although I had a panic that the car park was nearly full, there were plenty of tables. So we commandeered one, I got the boys to choose their lunch order ready for me just to order nearer lunch, and off they went to play. With friends in tow, N was able to try out the laser tag area and they spent most of their time in there.
I had a nice relaxing time, having the occasional hello and commentary on what they were doing before they bounded off again, able to write blog posts in peace and read my book.
Going to the hub outside of an official party meant we had longer there as well. Peak times you get 2.5 hours, but with a party you only get 2 hours. The boys really appreciated that as they could have 15 minutes after lunch to have a final play.
There were only 2 bumps. 1 a slight head bump where 2 came rushing down off the frame saying, 1 of the others had bumped his head and couldn’t come down. I suggested they see if they could help him down before I headed up to find him, but I turned round and there he was. No bump, no dizziness and saying he was fine. Phew. Then one arrived for lunch holding his eye, having had a softplay ball hit him. Accident form filled in (thankfully he knew all of his address – impressive given N only knows our house name and the farm!) and he was fine after eating. He’s forgotten which eye by the time his mum asked him about it later on.
They decided that they’d rather have cake in party bags to take home and not for pudding. Laser tag was calling them again. So I sliced up the cake and popped it in napkins and bags.
N had asked for a cake with the Riverside Hub sign on., Then he wanted a New Holland tractor on it. So I’d ordered a cake topper online rather than going to Asda for a photo cake. Theirs are for too many people, although the size and cost of the topper meant I’d have been better off going to the supermarket and hoping they had the sponge cakes left to put photos on. Always a bit of a risk.
The cake baked fine, but the icing wasn’t good. I’d bought fondant having never used it before, and it turned out to be round so I had to roll it out further to make it fit over most of the sides of the cake (there were a few bare bits). The topper needed to be cut to fit the nearly square cake. But really it needed to be smaller than the cake because it puckered round the edges.
The great thing about kids is they don’t care about a cake being perfect. They see the picture.They see cake. When the lid gets taken off, or they peek in the cake box for the first time, the reaction is always wow.
The journey home was noisy. N was fairly quiet in the front, but the 3 in the backseat were lively as anything. You wouldn’t believe they’d all spend 2.5 hours running around. They’d all been given one of the Hub wristbands on leaving so next time they go they can get a voucher for the little shop. There was lots of excitement over those. And when we did the first house drop off, N and the other boy wanted to stay to play. They must have had 6 hours together by the end of it, but there all got on so well. And no arguments or fights which is always good.
It was a successful and fun outing, and N loved having some of his friends out with him.
What I learnt about taking 4 boys out
- It will be noisy
- If travelling together, put the quiet child in the middle
- And remove anything that could cause them to argue and throw things around
- They just want to run around and explore
- They’re happy to hang around together.
- They will get on, There was only one minor moan from the backseat..
- There’s a lot of talk about cars, even if they’re not usually interested in them.
- There’s a lot of competitiveness. In this case about whether everyone’s dads had a John Deere, what sort of lawn mower they had, and who was or wasn’t going to each other’s for a sleepover.
- They like their food. Not all of them ate everything, but there was no moaning, they just got on and ate it or not.
Now I know why my mum used to say that my brother’s birthday parties were so much less hassle than mine, where the girls used to play up a lot more.
Next thing is N’s actual birthday which will be a much calmer day
What sort of birthday celebrations do your children have?
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