We had Andy's birthday party yesterday and it wasn't quite a Bataan death march with eight screaming six year olds, but perhaps not that far off. I had this great idea that we'd have a half-sleepover, which we'd be to at another kids' house before where the kids come over for a few hours in their pajamas for pizza, cake, games and a movie. I scheduled three hours thinking all but the movie would take 1 1/2 hours, then they'd graciously and happily watch the movie for the remaining time. Their parents would show up and the children would graciously leave having had a wonderful time.
It mostly went according to plan, however, they had no interest in the movie. That meant I had another 1 1/2 hours to entertain kids while were getting increasingly tired and rowdy. Uh-oh.
So here's what worked:
1) Having a party at home was nice. I had all my stuff and didn't have to schlep it somewhere else.
2) There was a little more room for error. When a kid claimed he was allergic to tomatoes, I could substitute yogurt. Course, I had to do that for eight kids, but that was fine. I was home; I had it.
3) I invited the parents to stay for a glass of wine. That was nice to get to know them a little better.
4) Lots of outside help. With Bjorn, Mark, Margareta, Dad and Elizabeth, we almost had enough adults to go man to man on the children.
Here's what didn't work:
1) It was at least an hour too long. If it had been over at two hours, everyone would have been happy (mostly me). But that last hour was where the problems started.
2) I bought Costco pizza because it's good, but the kids had no interest in good pizza. They wanted plain cheese Domino's/Red Baron pizza that looks and tastes like cardboard.
3) Eight kids was probably too many (10 really if you factor in Meg and my niece Emma who are three). I had 100 percent acceptance which I wasn't counting on. Six (four?) probably would have been better and more manageable.
4) Make it a single sex party. I invited my nieces and our good friend whose daughter is also in kindergarten. They played nicely with each other mostly, but there were two little girls from Andy's class and one in particular seems to play Andy and his BFF Bart off each other. Andy was in tears at one point because they said he wasn't their best friend anymore. Course, Andy did refuse to play the game they wanted to on the Wii.
5) No Wii should have been allowed. Only two kids can play at once and there was competition for it (see no. 4).
6) It actually rained yesterday so we couldn't send the kids out with a flashlight to look at the creek or anything and blow off some energy.
Meg's birthday is in 10 days. I am totally doing something more low key than this for her. And next year? I think I'm going to Chuck E Cheese.