With N’s birthday being in January and having amongst about 10 other friends’ birthdays, it’s nigh on impossible to a) find a date that works and b) to not have to spend a fortune on a venue versus being able to do something at home. There’s no way I want 10 kids+ running round the house.
Last year we won a party at N’s day nursery’s tree house and did a party in May, this year the plan was a party in the summer so I could just let the kids run amock outside. So last weekend was N’s non-birthday party.
I decided to make life easy and put together lunchboxes for them. Of course N wanted to help so he put the fillings in the sandwiches while I buttered, cut and wrapped. Thankfully I did enough cheese and ham sandwiches so each child could have the same if necessary, but it turned out that ham is the way to go for children’s parties. Only 2 out of the 15 wanted cheese! The rest had to go in the freezer so we’ve been eating those leftovers the rest of the week.
Once the sandwiches were done N wanted to help fill the lunchboxes so crisps, jelly pots and spoons were added, with mini cocktail sausages in cupcake cases put in later, and blueberries, strawberries and crudites out on the table so the children could add fruit and veg as they wanted. They also had the choice of drinks bottles to add. I’d definitely do lunchboxes again because they’re much less mess and washing up, plus everything’s contained.
Most people would know where the house was having been before, but a couple from nursery might not know so we had to put out balloons at the farm entrance. You can never rely on sat nav and I didn’t want people to have to be ringing me to find out where we were. N wanted to be the one to carry the balloons, and the bins soon had pretty balloons on guiding people to the party.
I was so relieved with the weather. Our house is a reasonable size, but I didn’t want 15 kids crammed into the house. The layout’s not brilliant for doing games in although I did have some back up team games just in case the promised rain arrived. I borrowed a couple of gazebos as well (optimistically in case we needed shade if we had miracle hot weather), but we didn’t use them in the end. Just as well, because we’re exposed and it was quite windy on the day. I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing if I’d had to tie them down.
Luckily the weather held out. The clouds were there, but the children had the space to play in. I’d worried that our garden wasn’t fenced in and that some might have tried to head down to the farm, but they were all really good and stayed around by the house. I only caught one exploring and I only had to ask her to stay our side of the muddy line between ours and Granny’s lawn.
N loved having friends round. I wondered what he’d be like because at other parties he often doesn’t want to join in – definitely not with organised activities. But he loved it. So many people to play with, to show his toys to, and to just play.
The John Deere gator was a great success…with the children, if not the adults. I’d not had the battery on long enough to charge, so by the time 4 children had piled on in one go, there was no chance of it moving. That didn’t worry the children, they just found a couple of willing parents to push it round. I apologise now for the back ache they might have suffered in the next couple of days.
After saying beforehand that he would be the only one allowed to drive the gator, in the end N was happy to be sitting in the back with someone else at the wheel. Next time, I must remember to charge the battery overnight!
I’d pretty much cleared out everything in the house downstairs. Outdoor toys were available in a big bucket, there were a few musical instruments hanging around which a couple played with for a bit. No-one fiddled with the piano which was good. In fact the only thing they got out that I’d tried to hide was the old Britains farm toys, that I’d pushed the big chair in the living room on front to hide it.
Someone did manage to find the second roller skate that we’d lost. So many of the children tried them on, and when I turned round I even spotted N in a Cinderella role reversal having his friend and neighbour I putting the skates on him!
The children were brilliant. They all mucked in together, and got on well even though they ranged from not quite 4 to an old 6. Yes most had a parent there, but we were mostly able to catch up and have a chat. One dad was roped in to a game of football with N’s cousin who was that bit older than the other children.
Putting out the picnic blankets got them all excited and off to get their lunchboxes before they enjoyed sitting out to eat their food.
Afterwards I brought out the banana chocolate ‘ice cream’ lollipops. I had warned the adults beforehand that they were a little (ahem) crude looking, but 4 year olds had no idea about that. They went down brilliantly with only one child saying they didn’t like it. Can’t please everyone. I can confirm they were delicious, although you have to make sure they stay frozen otherwise they go mushy and liquid as they ‘melt’.
Needless to say, about 15 minutes before the end of the party, a couple of the girls found the face paints I’d got out just in case of rain. So I then had a queue. I have to admit that apart from N’s tiger face which I was proud of, I’ve never done face painting. I kept it to images on cheeks rather than whole faces so I could get round more. It turns out that I’m rubbish at butterflies, but flowers could be my face painting thing. One boy wanted a pirate patch, so I’m not sure what his mum said about him having a black eye!
After a couple of hours, and some lovely helpful clearing up by various mums as I sorted out the party bags, everything was tidy and quiet again. Although because the children had been all spread outside, I didn’t really noticed the noise.
N was excited to see people had kindly brought him presents. I guess it’s ingrained in people to bring gifts to parties, and we’d probably confused some parents about having a non-birthday party 6 months after his birthday!
Really the party was just a mass play date, but for 4 year olds it worked really well. Apart from the outdoor space I didn’t do anything organised. Instead, the children just enjoyed playing with:
2 bikes, 1 balance bike
2 ride on tractors
ride on motorbike
play diggers (for digging up and moving the gravel),
various other small outdoor bits and pieces
and close at hand, some pens and paper for those who wanted to sit inside for a bit and write letters.
If I could guarantee the weather would be dry, I’d definitely do parties
at home in the garden again. But waiting on the weather is the most stressful part. Only 30 minutes after everyone left, the heavens opened and the place was soaked, so we were really lucky.
It seem that everyone enjoyed themselves, and we’ve already got a request for more playdates!