Children’s birthday parties have all the makings of an Irwin Allen disaster film. Kids hopped up on cake trying to have as much fun as legally possible. What could go wrong?
My wife and I decided to outsource Eli’s fourth birthday party to Monkey Bizness, a chain of kid-friendly adventure spots. The decision didn’t come easily, although snagging a Monkey coupon on Craigslist made our choice easier. We invited Eli’s pre-pre-kindergarten classmates along with a few other friends, hoping we would stumble on a number of guests that was party appropriate without being overwhelming.
Mission accomplished, but I’m not in a bragging mood. Birthday parties require more luck than anything else. Yes, the folks at Monkey Bizness brought their “A” game, and the complex runs so well they make entertaining large groups of kids look easy. No small task.
One stubbed toe, inexplicable meltdown or diaper malfunction and it could have been a catastrophe.
Lessons learned? Planning makes potentially perfect with birthday parties. We brought not just the standard birthday cake but apple sauces, cheese sticks and other goodies which proved both nutritious and distracting to kids waiting to melt down from the stimulus overload. We invited every child from our son’s class to make sure no one felt left out. Consider waiting until later to open up the gifts. Children can get emotional over gift exchanges. Little ones don’t have the social skills to grin when they receive a lousy gift, and when you’re spending precious dollars to rent out a venue you don’t want to waste time untangling ribbons, tape and yarn.
As tempting as it was to partake in some of the activities – a mammoth slide drew more adults than children – the host needs to keep both eyes peeled for potential mischief.