Caitlin will be turning 4 this week.
From experience of Caitlin’s 3rd birthday party, it was quite a task trying to organise a toddler’s party. We had some “trouble” thinking of who to invite: Caitlin hadn’t started school yet, her nearest cousins are at least 10 years older than her, she only has ONE toddler friend. Then there was the venue; we booked the multi-purpose hall at our condo, but it was hot as hell. And the food; both grandma’s were quite frantic in organising and cooking the food- a lot of which were left over. And then the cleaning up.
This year though, was actually just a little easier- she has been attending school this year and have some same-sized acquaintance.
So this year, I for one took the easy way out- I didn’t bother with streamers, balloons, party packs.
I outsourced it.
Since her birthday is going to be on a weekday (as I write this), we thought it’d be better to organise the party on the weekend, and going be the (local?) tradition, we planned it on the Sunday before the actual birthday (yesterday).
Kids her age absolutely love the kids’ gyms and playgrounds. During my last visits, I had noticed that they organise birthday parties for kids.
That’s how it clicked.
I consulted Caitlin, saying that Daddee and Mummee would like to organise a birthday party for her, and asked who she’d like from school to come to her party. Index finger to her chin, she ran through the list of names in her head, with Daddee tailing her with a pen and a pad.
Speaking to her class teacher I managed to get the contact details of the parents. Due to some administrative error, I had a red face experience when I contacted one of the mothers with a wrong child name. Honestly! It wasn’t my fault!
Again from experience / witness, a gym like this would be better suited for kids who are already able to run. I have seen tinier people being knocked over by toddlers and bigger kids. If you recall your physics lessons on conservation of momentum, at head on collision the body with the lower mass bounces off the one with the higher mass. Quite a hazard really for the little people… (Sorry Ann, that’s why I left Christopher out!)
Naturally I also had to ensure that I get the venue secured too. It was quite a tricky situation balancing fulfilling the package of set headcounts against those who would be coming (ie keeping to their word). Experience from organising events at work recently has proven boss’ theory of expecting a 30% drop out come time of the actual event.
The theory proved correct.
I did try to make some last minutes fillers; called up a colleague with a 2 year old boy, but he too fell into that same statistics category- his boy came down with a fever. He did warn me about this a few days before though that his boy was starting to exhbit some symptoms, so it wasn’t as bad as one of Caitlin’s classmates who RSVPed (this colleague has already passed me Caitlin’s present today at work), but when I called all the parents again the day before for confirmation that “Oh, we are actually going to be traveling North..” Yeah thanks for not bothering to tell me; what if I didnt’ call? Another one also didn’t inform me; when we were already 30min into the party I called only to find that the boy was at the Dr’s, also down with something.
Lesson here for organising any-age events:
- Expect 30% to decline invitation, so invite 130%!
- Expect some to RSVP but not bother to advise on their change of plans;
- Call at least a day before again to remind them of the event.
We were very appreciative of the parents who did come on time, and even more appreciative of the presents for Caitlin. I was glad that some of the parents already knew each other; it made playing host a little easier. There were one or two who didn’t know anyone; a pregnant mother sat there the whole 2+ hours, while a dad went window shopping. Glad I decided on this venue- the gym is actually in a shopping center.
All in all, I think everyone had fun. Honestly I was a little skeptical on how well this would go; a feeling I suddenly had halfway through the 2 hour party slot. After the simple meal and games that the staff conducted, the kids were let loose again in the gym, playing and complaining about who wasn’t playing with who, who wasn’t sharing, who was rough on the slide, where are the lollies the staff gave out, and the parents chasing after them with bottled water.
She is four years old already…..