I did the unthinkable this year and told Dan he could have a party at home.
I said he could invite five friends from school. He said he couldn’t possible pick just five and that he would feel really bad for the friends he had to leave out. Could it be 10?
I caved in.
I mean five boys, ten boys they can’t be much different can they?
But I have to say, although they were loud and a little bit cheeky and tried to kill each other with lightsabres while waiting for parents to pick them up, they were on the whole golden.
I am also now in the parenting hall of fame for making hubby dress up as Lurch (complete with black suit and facepaint) to answer the door.
My success? All in the planning. Military-style planning. And a 10-point action plan. I stopped short of drawing it up on Excel (Single Parent Dad and How I Like My Coffee, I’m looking at your two saddos).
1. Choose a theme.
Dan desperately wanted a Haunted House party. We toyed with Star Wars, Superhero and Doctor Who but he decided playing in the dark was so much more fun than wearing his threadbare Batman cape. Again.
2. Create a cool invitation that gets everyone talking
3. Decorate the house
Paper ghosts, cotton wool spider webs, spiders made from black cupcake cases and pipe cleaners, bats cut from black card, strips of black crepe paper hanging from the doors and light fittings. Turn the lights out.
4. Enlist a helper.
Dress him up as a member of the Addams Family. Make him walk around the house like he’s got two broom handles down his trouser legs. Ask him to ‘moan’.
If you have a husband, he’ll be perfect for the job.
5. Create a spooky spread.
Eyeballs on sticks (grapes), maggot and skin sandwiches (grated cheese and ham), witches fingers (cocktail sausages), teeth (apple quarters cut into jagged pattern), rotten brain (popcorn with jelly snakes crawling out of it), witches brew (red squash).
6. Keep them busy when they arrive.
Cover the kitchen table with a white paper table cloth. Invite newcomers to ‘design’ the table cloth. They can draw any picture on it and at the end of the party Lurch will judge and pick a winner.
7. Party games.
- Bucket head – Lurch has lost his brains (scrunched up white paper) and you need to get them back into his head (a bucket on his head) while he ambles around the room. Groaning.
- First one to – Like Simon Says, but you say ‘first one to . . . sit on the floor’ etc. Last one to do it is out. Just to spice up proceedings I said ‘first one to kiss somebody else’. They all kissed each other without thinking (soooo funny) except one boy who kissed me. Instant win.
- Ghost hunt – put clues on pieces of paper in 9 balloons. First one to answer a question correctly gets to burst a balloon, read the clue, find the ‘treasure’ (tubes of chocolates) around the house.
Watching them trying to burst balloons: Hilarious.
- Pass the Parcel. With a twist – when the music stops you put your hand in the giant black bag in the middle of the circle and take out an item of clothing and put it on. Whoever is wearing the most at the end is the winner.
The boy wearing a hoola skirt and Peter Pan hat and one of my skiing gloves was so not happy!
- Chinese Pictionary Whispers – too complicated to explain but it was a joy to see a bunch of lads get all excited about drawing!
8. Let them let off steam.
They’re boys. All they really want to do is fight and kill each other.
Gather all the foam swords, lightsabres, axes, blow up clubs you possess let them have a good 15 minutes of beating each other about the head. The parents arrive and their child is exhausted. Win win.
9. Party bags
I have learned through bitter experience that you have to give out party bags. You can be as puritanical as you like about it all, but kids expect a party bag of some description. But what to put in them?
Cool pen which flips out, packet of Crazy Bones, chocolate money and fake dog poo.
10. Tell them ‘whoever clears up 3 items can have their party bag’.
I can’t believe this actually worked. One boy did ‘cheat’ by throwing his stash in the open washing machine right next to him, but all the same, chuffed.
I held a house party for 9 seven year olds and survived!