It’s all fun and games … until you hurt the piñata
By Scott Mayes
Kids seem to go through fascination phases – at least in my house. In the past 17 years, we’ve been through Bear in the Big Blue House, The Wiggles, Bob the Builder, Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
That’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.
Anyhow, when your kids are in these stages, birthday parties are easy, right? You head off to the store and everything is a piece of cake – right down from the cake itself, to the gifts to the decorations.
I remember when my now 11-year-old was turning three. It was all Spider-Man all the time. If you’ve had a phase like that in your house, you even know the “spin a web” pose. In case you don’t, it’s palm up, index finger and pinky finger stretched out and the middle two fingers curled up in your palm. That’s what Spidey does when it’s time to spin that web.
The year was 2003 and we were ready. We had our gifts, our cake, our everything decked out in the Spidey theme. We even went to the next step with the Spider-Man piñata. Out went the invitations, the pizzas were ordered and we were ready to go.
Eight years into parenthood and two kids later, we had it licked. We were proud. We nailed the birthday party.
Not so fast.
As parents, sometimes you get humbled. (Maybe you’ve had this experience.) In our case, we failed to think about one little detail. And, it was in the piñata.
After pizza was eaten and three year olds (and some older kids) were running around hyped up on punch, it was time for the piñata. We got the youngest kid outside first with a baseball bat. A few swings of that bat and Micah’s face turned very quickly from a Spidey smile to a frown followed by real tears.
“Stop hitting Spider-Man,” he yelled as he cried and ran full speed to save his favorite Superhero. It didn’t crush the party, but it did give it a few moments of sadness – nothing that a few hugs and some cake couldn’t solve.
But I did learn a valuable lesson: Don’t have any activity at your party that involves physically destroying your kid’s favorite character. You can probably get away with it on the cake since there’s sugar involved. But, having figurines atop the cake that won’t be eaten is probably a good compromise.
Here are a few other tips than should get you on the right track for a great party:
• Save cake and presents for the end. Those two events can involve chaos. Saving them for the end will help keep order.
• Keep your party size manageable. Too many kids = crazy.
• Get an accurate head count. Use the tried and true RSVP method (and Evite works too), so you know how many to expect – and more importantly, how much food you’ll need.
• Plan ahead. Make sure you have enough adults on hand to manage the party. It’s also a good idea to charge the camera batteries and make sure the birthday boy or girl gets a good nap before the guests arrive.
• Set a budget. If you can’t afford the world’s greatest birthday party, don’t put that pressure on yourself. Live within your means. It will still be fantastic.
Filed under Blogroll, From the Mag, Parties