At work I’m a planner. I’m a doer. I look ahead at deadlines and make sure everything is in place to get things out. So why, for the second year in a row, am I so crap at organising my daughter’s birthday party?
I think the problem stems from it being early Feb. That makes it an after Christmas job. You’d think, with all the self-claimed ‘slummy mummies’ around, that others would share my thought process- and I’d be able to sweep in early New Year and take my pick of all those places who are clambering for my business. Well you’d be wrong. I was wrong. Last year I was wrong and this year I was wrong.
Last year was our first stab at toddler party organising. First off, after realising we should get our act together, we sent messages to our family and friends with kids to save the date. Family were keen, friends with kids already mostly booked up. Second job, decide on what kind of party. Hire a church hall, hire soft play. Job done. Soft play booked online in two minutes, feeling very proud, I set delivery to our little church hall, just needed to ring during church office hours, I’d do that at work in the morning. Ha. That was a hard lesson to learn- four days later and after speaking to half of Leeds only then did we actually find a local hall that didn’t advertise on the internet (and we could only talk to between 5pm and 6pm in an evening so no wonder they were free). And so 7 children (including Jess) and 107 adults piled in to enjoy two hours of screaming. We weren’t rehearsed in children’s parties- didn’t understand the time splits needed for play/food/games, but overall Jess seemed to have fun and was totally knackered so success all round.
This year I was determined to do better. Failed at the first hurdle (leaving it until after Christmas) but eventually found a soft play who organises everything and we were booked in by early Jan. This year Jess has nursery friends. Well I guess playmates? Luckily the nursery were happy to provide a list of 15 names to us to invite. Got the invitations out the next day…. and that night waited anxiously for RSVPs to my phone. Nothing. Nor the next night. I was TOTALLY panicking because Jess was asking me every two seconds who was coming and now all I could tell her was Mummy and Daddy. She wasn’t impressed. Finally a response came.. then another and another. We’re now up to 10 nursery friends… it’s a bit awkward isn’t it? The random text you get- ‘Hi, Ben would love to come to the party, thanks for the invite’. First of all who are you? Mum? Dad? A name would be good for when I meet you! Secondly who’s Ben? Every reply I get I’m now scrolling through observations to see if any children are tagged so I can happily greet Ben when you arrive. Thirdly, lets be honest, I doubt you’ve consulted him unless you’ve already decided that you’re coming. Let’s not lie and say anything about Ben’s feelings. If you’re anything like me a soft play party is an option when there is literally nothing else to do. I’m not sure how many parents really look forward to these things. But anyway I’m delighted that we’ve got actual guests- our daughter is a social butterfly wooohooo!
The final error has been telling Jess about said party. A month’s notice is simply too long. She asks everyone we see if they’re coming to her party (including nursery children who didn’t make the 15 cut). She asks every morning if it’s her birthday party. Everything we plan is in terms of whether it’s before or after her party. Handy tip; don’t tell them until absolutely necessary.
Next year I’ll know this. I’ll know to start looking for venues in November and get invites out nice and early. I’ll know how to structure the timeline of party events. I’ll know to pay better attention of who other children are at drop off and pick up so I know who’ll be coming. I’ll know not to expect replies from parents immediately. And I’ll know that I shouldn’t tell my daughter until I know exactly who is coming, and not to tell her until the week before.