It makes sense to dread your child’s birthday celebration. The typical bash is fraught with peril. Crying children. Huge bills. Something very valuable left so shattered even a full vial of super glue can’t help.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
As with everything tied to parenthood, no solutions are foolproof. Still, by following these five tips you stand a better-that-average chance of emerging from your kid’s next party without any emotional scars.
1. Pick the Right Venue
Plenty of kid-friendly chains want to throw a birthday party for you. Chuck E. Cheese’s. Monkey Bizness. BounceU. Choose wisely based on your budget, your child’s personality and the age of the party goers. Ask fellow parents about their experiences at the venue in question. Peruse your local Craigslist site to see if anyone is selling coupons or gift certificates to defray the costs. And, if none of them seem a good fit, consider hosting a modest party yourself. Your kid will have a blast no matter where the party is as long is his friends are there and the birthday cake icing doesn’t skimp on the sugar.
2. Trust That Chuck E. Cheese Rep
It might seem counter-intuitive to lean on a gal who looks no older than 19, but the folks who work at corporate birthday party stations have served time in the kiddie trenches. They’ve seen kids melt down, cheer and do everything else young’uns do at a birthday party. Give their tips a chance. They might just steer you toward a less explosive solution.
3. Hire an Extra Hand
The beauty of throwing a party for a younger child is that plenty of other parents will be on hand. They can help if things get out of control. That’s great, but it isn’t always the case, particularly if you let parents drop and dash for the party in question. Why not lasso your regular babysitter to help out for that two-hour party span? The sitter already knows your child, and he or she might be the extra set of eyes needed to avert a mini-disaster or simply wipe up a few spills. It might be the best money you spend on the entire day.
4. Don’t Unwrap the Gifts
This one is mandatory. Don’t let the birthday boy or girl open the presents until after the last child has gone home. Kids aren’t exactly polished in their social graces (“a Barbie doll? I grew out of them last birthday!”). This just invites trouble. Plus, it’s better to open them later and write down the name attached to each gift for the eventual thank you notes.
5. Plan for the Worst (Knowing Something Will Go Wrong Anyway)
Expect bad things to happen. The cake could topple over. The kiddie giveaways could start a fight. Anticipate what might go wrong and plan accordingly. Children will always surprise us, so no strategies will be enough. Still, thinking about worst-case-scenarios can actually help you avoid them.
Christian Toto is a freelance writer and editor of HollywoodInToto.com.