Wow! What a challenge that was! It started off just fine, I left the den to set up the hall for my oldest fox's 6th birthday party. I was happy, excited, a little anxious but on the whole satisfied that everything was planned and we were ready to go. I had made special pteradactyl bunting which I strung up on sky blue crepe paper 'ribbon'. I had the wonderful backdrop which had been painted for the Cowboy and Indian party. I had the mammoth I had painted for 'pin the tail.' I had my triceratops pinata. I had the caveman for the children to be photographed as. I had the prizes all wrapped up, pass the parcel was ready, food was organised... I had dinosaur balloons blown up for the party games, I had even stuffed plain balloons (dinosaur eggs) with the party favours ready for the faceless caveman to protect... what could go wrong?
Ok - 3pm, the 'guests' arrive. They are mostly 6yrs old and there are 21 of them - 5 are girls. So yes, we are Mrs Fox's and our children are obviously wild animals but I am clearly a naive Fox and I had not expected the other parents' children to be wild animals too. They looked like normal children to me but I swiftly removed my rose tinted specs.
Upon arrival, for a prize, they were to match their invites to corresponding cards which had been stuck up around the hall. They took up the challenge and charged around like rabid dogs, laughing as they knocked each other over, snatching and popping any balloons which came into their view. I feared for the 'dinosaur egg' balloon favours and hid them away - the caveman was unemployed. Clearly, he needed some attention. He got it and within a few minutes, his spear had been snapped and he had been pushed over and rolled on - I feared for his survival but as if by magic, somehow in the forray, the rabid pups found their invite match cards and I managed to herd them all outside for some organised races. These were fun races, they seemed to enjoy being organised too, they won pterasaur gliders and dinosaur pens and I thought I had cracked it. They were under the party spell.
But the races finished and we had to go back inside. They stormed in and carried on, wild, where they had left off. My smile slipped again. I shouted loudly that we were about to bring on the pass the parcel and abracadabra! - magic. They sat in a circle and turned back into young children. Two parcels went around and we managed to string it out to keep them all in one place. They didn't mind, they enjoyed it - not too long a time and not too short. And then food. I put my rosie specs back on and felt confident that food would keep them still a while and while they waited on food, they had a little scratch dinosaur kit each to doodle on. Not bad, they seemed into this before taking a few bites of this and a few of that, then one by one, they joined the first child who had got up to run around - wildly. We rushed the fruit cups out and some showed mild interest. We rushed the desert round out, surely they would sit still for chocolate bites and flapjacks? I hadn't thought this through - bite sized deserts fit nicely into the hand of a child so they grabbed and ran. At least we got to clear the tables away sharply.
Pin the tail - yes, have them stand neatly in a line.... but of course, once the tail has been pinned, that child leaves the queue, then the 2nd, then the 3rd and chaos reigns again. As quickly as possible, we got things ready for musical chairs. Joy for a while, they were focused - but children have to drop out. We can't keep all the chairs there in the hope that they will run round and round indefinately but thankfully, parents started to arrive to pick up their wild pups and take them home, where they would no doubt morph back into the cherubs they appear to be at the school gates.
Before they went though, they had to break the pinata. My girl cub (#2) was attached to the pinata, she had seen it constructed and had love for it. She gave it a gentle kiss before out of no-where, a boys foot hoofed it several feet away from her. Another boy stamped on it and they descended like vultures. Cub #2 was devasted, she had wanted to give it it's first gentle smash, bless her.
Then off they all went with their 'eggs' to pop, their prizes and their cakes.
So, shall I write another essay on how to save yourself the stress of dealing with a pack of wild pups? I have learned a lot and surprisingly, the answer is not 'DON'T EVER DO THIS YOURSELF!'
Rather than an essay - some tips.
- Keep them organised, my agenda worked well for the most part but in retrospect, I would have split the children in half for pass the parcel and pin the tail, then there would have been less waiting for the next activity.
- Maybe think of a game that will channel the energy. If boys want to fight, they can stand at each end of the hall/room and throw rolled up socks or ping pong balls at each other from a set distance. They could well do this for 20 mins and have a great time without any physical contact.
- Have a low maintenance, low mess activity for the first arrivals to get on with while you wait for the final guests to arrive. Maybe the scratch dino's would have been good to give out at the start.
- Remember, these children usually see each other at school where they are 'trained' to restrain and channel their energy. When they get together in an informal environment, they will behave differently, they want to let loose and have fun. Expect this and let them get on with it to a degree. With effort and your own friends to help, you can do this with structure and control, they can jump up and down, cheer each other on and tussel, scream and yell.
Why young boys en masse need to play fight when not being organised, I do not know. It was a wonder to behold and slightly disconcerting... but according to #1 cub and his friends mums, the young beasts had an absolute blast. They went home exhausted with huge grins on their faces, they had done battle and come out friends. I'll admit to fretting about the energy levels at certain times but in retrospect, unneccessarily. Wise Nanna Fox pointed out that perhaps I should have thought to worry only if, in the moments between games, they had been standing around looking bored. I think she is right.
For these great dinosaur cup cake toppers I used to make the birthday cakes, CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE for Example Running Order for Prehistoric Party