Aren’t they the best? *said through a slightly hysterical forced smile*

Whether it is your child’s party or you are attending someone else’s party, both are KNACKERING! I have been lucky enough to plan and arrange 2 parties for my son. A ‘Welcome to the family’ party when he came home to us at 14 months old (the party was a few months later!) and his 2nd birthday party in February this year. Both were lovely. Below i break down the pros and cons of hosting/arranging/attending children’s parties.

Your own child’s party.

There are so many options. At home? Local village hall? Soft play? Farm? Swimming party? (I don’t need to see all my friends nearly-naked bodies and they don’t need to see mine  so that one’s out the question!). For his 2nd birthday we went to a soft play that is located in a local garden centre. It’s smaller than those big ones (and cleaner. He will ALWAYS get ill a couple of days later from going to the big ones!)

It was just perfect, all we had to do was turn up. The soft play area is at the back of the cafe, so you have a whole section of that reserved for the party and exclusive use of the play area. I did feel terrible for families arriving to have a coffee and a play to find it was shut though…

Food, drink and a cake decorating task were all included. We didn’t have to worry about a thing. We brought some balloons ourselves and some bunting, but it was really ideal as the kids ran around and had a blast. We only had to create the party bags which i kind of love to do anyway. The other bonus was for us adults, we could order a nice brunch or have coffee and a cake too. Perfect.

For our first party hosting experience however we opted for a village hall and arranged all the food and decor ourselves. And where this is quite hard work in sourcing everything, it’s also all your own to do what you like with. You have the added job of making/buying all the food and transporting all the equipment to decorate, glassware, plastic cups, trays of nibbles… but it’s all do-able. Rope in the family and you’ll get it all done. It feels quite pressured as it’s all your responsibility, but shove a million activity toys out in the hall and the kids will have a whale of a time.

Other children’s parties.

These are so awesome because all you need to do is buy a gift (and on the odd occasion a fancy dress outfit) and rock up. But if you have a child like mine, who can’t be assed with all the lovely toys and games set up by the parents, he just wants to explore this new house he’s never been in. Going into every room he shouldn’t. Finding utility rooms and turning on washing machines, opening the wine cooler and taking bottles out… Sod the game of pass the parcel, he wants the booze! I feel like i spend the entire time looking out to see where he is and taking him out of rooms he shouldn’t be in.

Trying to have an adult conversation with other parents lasts about 3 seconds before i have to politely say “Oh sorry, my child is about to smash the lovely glass coffee table in the living room…!”.

If you do manage to have a moment where all the kids are safely locked in one room with no risk of escape and they’re dancing along to music then take that as your opportunity to break free for 2 minutes, sit down, get a drink and a bit of party food and cherish it because in no time at all they’ll be back to running around the house and going upstairs sneaking into bedrooms.

There is that sweet realisation though that at the end of the party, when it’s time to pack up and go that they will burn out and fall asleep on the journey home. All the sugar will have hopefully gone through their system by this point, they’ll be exhausted and an early night will be on the cards. And that’s when daddies get to pick through the party bag without him knowing…

As crazy as planning/attending parties can be, they can also be quite emotional for the parents. It’s marking an anniversary to the day that you either a) welcomed that baby into the world on a day you’ll never forget and b) marking an amazing milestone like welcoming them to the family. I love them, despite all the craziness and running around trying to make sure my son doesn’t fall down the stairs at a friends house…!

This post originally featured on Father Inc