When you throw a party for your kids, it seems easy to get it right. Most of us probably grew up both hosting and attending parties, and by and large, they’re fond memories. A little food, some silly games, and everyone went home with a gift bag at the end of it. So as a parent you’re left thinking: what’s so hard?
To an extent – nothing. The same rules apply, but we have somehow managed to add a few more that make things more complicated. We live in the digital age, and that means people are more able to vent about bad parties or make complaints about their hosts. This is an aspect that our parents didn’t have to deal with – and it can make for some tricky situations. There’s a whole parenting etiquette that we now have to follow – and if we don’t, we’ll be on the receiving end of a social media shaming.
If you’re thinking of planning your next party and thinking it’s all just about party hats, ice cream and a bouncy castle from the likes of Jolly Jumps – then think again. Here are the things you need to get right to ensure the kids have a good time – and your part is as hassle-free as possible.
- Be Wary of Allergy Requirements
Allergies are being diagnosed at an all-time high rate. Some are minor, causing relatively mild reactions such as rashes and swollen lips. Other – such as peanut allergies – are potentially fatal.
It is now expected rather than hoped for that a party will cater to the allergy requirements of all guests. To get things off on the right foot, you need to know the allergy requirements. Make sure you put it a request for such information on the invitation; or a generalized request for information on Facebook will suffice.
Also, bear in mind different dietary requirements. They’re not necessarily allergic but, again, people now expect them to be catered to. Gluten-free (without the presence of Celiac Disease), dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan are all options you may need to consider.
- Talking of Gluten-Free…
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that means the body systems attack themselves in the presence of gluten. For sufferers, not only do they need to avoid all forms of gluten (and it can be found in the most unexpected of items) – preparation is an issue, too. Due to contamination, they can’t eat anything prepared in the same kitchen area, using the same tools, as gluten-contaminated equipment.
As a host, this presents a minefield. It’s important first to establish why someone is requesting gluten-free; is it Celiac (and thus essential) or more of a choice? If it’s a lifestyle choice, then don’t be concerned about contamination.
If it’s Celiac at the cause, then talk with the parent about measures you need to take. It might be best for all involved for the child to come with their own food, and you can buy in gluten-free cookies that won’t risk contamination.
- Gifts – What To Do and What Not To Do
Most parents will recognize the feeling of their child being showered with gifts – and then realizing they’re the same gift. You find yourself with duplicates of the latest must-have toy and no idea what to do with them. It seems eminently sensible to instead create a gift registry, so the chances of a duplicate are greatly limited.
And it is eminently sensible – a gift registry for a child’s birthday is a great idea. It gives you a chance to stock up on things you need or those gifts you know your child wants – but it’s also a potential source of tension.
Walking this fine line is all in how you announce the existence of the registry. Here’s what not to do:
Tacked onto an invitation –
Little Timmy’s gift registry is at www.littletimmysgiftregistry.com
If that’s all you say, then the expectation is too high. It basically states: “if you’re coming to the party, make sure you get a gift!” A better alternative would be:
For those of you who may wish to get Little Timmy a gift, we created a registry at www.littletimmysgiftregistry.com – feel free to use it if it helps you out!
It’s a little more friendly and places the onus on them for the decision. However, there is still a little expectation – and that might be okay. You know the people you’re sending invites to, so you know how they may respond to that.
In most cases, the safest bet is to create a registry and only give the details if someone explicitly requests it. You can tack this possibility onto the invite with a simple:
If you have any further questions or want information for a gift registry, do get in touch at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
So long as it doesn’t sound like an outright demand for gifts, then you should be okay.
A further note on the registry itself: try and incorporate all price points. Keep all prices reasonable and some outright cheap – better that than people feeling compelled to spend more. They will only resent you for asking. If your closest friends and family might want to spend a little more, than create a separate registry for them. People you only know as “Amelia’s Mum” shouldn’t be seeing three-figure items on any registry they encounter.
- Walking The Fine Line of Political Correctness
Whatever your stance on politically-correct culture with childrens’ toys, a kids party is not the time to be getting into the debate.
Making requests such as: “please don’t buy my daughter traditionally ‘girlie’ gifts” don’t really have a place for relative strangers. Sure, it’s something you can request of your nearest and dearest, but not of those you don’t know well. Just smile, write the thank you note and move on – you can always donate any unwanted gifts if they don’t pass your test.
Yes, to an extent, this is compromising your principles in the name of an easy time – but the party isn’t about principles. It’s about your child having fun, so stick to that, and you can’t go far wrong.