Pickle has just turned 4. We bucked the trend amongst his friends for hiring a village hall and instead invited 10 children to come for a bonfire birthday party. Whilst we're lucky enough to have space, we couldn't invite the entire nursery so Pickle had to choose his friends. All boys bar one, because he needed "someone to be Gwen"!
We only had one response in the first 2 weeks and I was worried about my son's popularity. We had to chase down a number of responders but ended up with a full house (my apologies to all those parents who I haven't replied to swiftly in the past).
I hadn't specified whether parents could drop their children off or stay with them and expected most to stay (as they don't know us and we don't know their children that well). But I was surprised that most children came with 2 parents and both stayed. Think they must be only children and some had to travel a distance to get here. Anyway, it didn't do much for my nerves! I'm shy and whilst perfectly capable of making a fool of myself in front of 12 kids, not quite so good with all their parents. My husband had been briefed to keep them all in the kitchen with wine and beer but he was still setting the fireworks when they arrived so they trooped through to a very crowded play room.
Pickle was also quite shy and extremely tired. He struggled with wanting to be centre of attention and wanting to sleep in equal measures. The pizza decorating was a little ambitious. Pass the parcel was safe (although nearly let Wotsit win which wasn't the done thing). Other traditional party games were fine but hadn't really thought through the winning strategy and didn't have any other prizes lined up. Sleeping lions was going the same way (i.e. nowhere) when I whispered in my sister-in-law's (ex-primary school teacher and music whizz) ear 'can you do sleeping bunnies'. Which was swiftly followed by very excited sleeping crocodiles, lions and monkeys (although Pickle at this point was mostly just sleeping).
Finally tea was ready. Only one child didn't like pizza. And most couldn't eat a whole one. Clearly my children are just gannets. I was only midly embarrassed during tea when one of the children knocked a painting off the wall (no-one was hurt) to expose a huge hole in the chimney breast my husband had drilled a few weeks earlier. I'm starting to see why people go to a Village Hall...
By far the biggest success, sitting outside with glow sticks waiting for the fireworks, the fireworks themselves (I was in the shed with the scaredy cats (including Pickle)), and then running around the garden afterwards in the dark. Pleased to report no injuries, just lots of mud. Oh and the party bags were pretty cool too.
I think they all had a great time. And I'm sure Pickle did. I spent a lot of time worrying that none of the parents like me (but it's hard to break a habit of a lifetime). And the tidying up wasn't too bad.
The day ended with me bathing 4 children and Pickle going into complete meltdown - too tired to hold it together any longer. He fell asleep as we read his bedtime story and I have to say, I wasn't far behind him.