I once got hate mail from a reader who was incensed that I recommended not giving out party bags, on the grounds they are full of plastic junk and the kids just want sweets.
She took the time to write and tell me she thought I was a slobby mother who obviously didn’t care for her kids. She said this was evident by the home-made cake and drinks cartons in a picture of one of my boys’ celebrations.
She was glad her daughter wasn’t acquainted with my offspring as she would be devastated not to get a party bag. I was sorely tempted to fill a party bag with something from the park bin and pop it through her door. I resisted. For once.
However, when it was party time for Billy this weekend, as he reached the grand-old age of seven, I did do party bags: they were Lidl freezer bags with two tiny bags of Haribo, a collectible Bean and some cake. Job done.
I’ve always been disorganised (and tight), so I never managed to stage the truly spectacular children’s party, with entertainers and bouncy castles, matching tablecloths, paper plates, treat bags and wrapping paper.
We agreed these were only ever staged once, usually early on with your first-born. We quickly realised the kids wouldn’t even notice the Bob The Builder theme and were most happy to be stuffing down cake and running around bonkers with their friends.
As I’d left it too late to book a party at an-oh-so-easy-no-clearing-up-venue like the Wacky Warehouse or Berzerk, Billy asked to have some friends over to the house. I groaned, silently. OK, but none of this North London nonsense about inviting the entire class.
To make one party: Ten friends, invites hastily printed out on the home computer. Two hours on a Saturday lunchtime, balloons, a load of cakes, sandwiches, pizza and crisps, two older brothers to marshal party games, some confectionery bribes and a DVD set up to calm them all down before handing them back. It’s never as bad as you first fear.
Everyone behaved well, even if the noise levels were ear-splitting. No one cried and all seemed to go home happy.
However, I’ve just noticed a new crack across the living room ceiling, which must have been made when Dougie had 11 under-sevens hopping and jumping up and down in the bedroom above.
Perhaps I’ll diary in an early booking for next year’s party to be held somewhere else. I’m not sure the house can take them getting any bigger.