No-stress kids’ party

Whitsunday Times - - LIFE FAMILY LIFE - ALYS GAGNON

I HAVE a par­ent­ing se­cret, it’s a good one. I have a sneaky way to put on a mar­vel­lous kid’s birth­day party that al­most no one fol­lows: it’s called the zero-ef­fort birth­day party. At first I didn’t want to share it with any­one be­cause the ge­nius of the zero-ef­fort birth­day party is that in a world full of play cen­tres and ex­pen­sive chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment, the zero-ef­fort birth­day party (which is a su­per cheap op­tion) stands out as unique and mem­o­rable. But, I’ve been con­vinced to show you how I do it by my ed­i­tor and since she’s my boss, well, let’s just say I like to keep her happy. Okay. The zero-ef­fort birth­day party. Here’s how it works. Step one Find a lo­cal play­ground that your kids en­joy vis­it­ing. It needs to have some nov­elty fac­tor though. So, you don’t want the nor­mal play­ground you pop into ev­ery week­end when the kids need some fresh air. You want the one in the next sub­urb that you stop into ev­ery now and again to mix things up. I sug­gest choos­ing a play­ground that has toi­lets. Be­cause noth­ing spells birth­day dis­as­ter like a poos­plo­sion, you know what I’m say­ing? In an ideal world, the play­ground is gated, mean­ing the level of re­quired su­per­vi­sion of the small peo­ple drops sig­nif­i­cantly. Step two Send out your in­vi­ta­tions. But, do it by email. I can see you frown­ing as you’re read­ing this. Email in­vi­ta­tions? Isn’t that rude? No. It’s not. I went to a wed­ding two years ago af­ter be­ing in­vited through a Face­book event. The world is chang­ing, friends. Em­brace it. If you’re feel­ing re­ally 21st Cen­tury, send the in­vite by text mes­sage. I have le­git done this, and I was pretty chuffed with my ef­forts to say the least. I strongly rec­om­mend a morn­ing party. I have two very good rea­sons for this. One: your child won’t be hyped up all day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the party. Two: you don’t have to or­gan­ise heaps of food, which leads meto… Step three Or­gan­ise the cater­ing. If you have wisely cho­sen to hold your party in the morn­ing (10am-noon is more than enough time to be par­tially re­spon­si­ble for 20 scream­ing chil­dren, in my view) all you need to sup­ply is a plat­ter of fruit and some car­rot sticks, rice crack­ers and hum­mus. If you’re re­ally into zero-ef­fort, and friends I am, then I rec­om­mend you get fruit that doesn’t re­quire chop­ping. Straw­ber­ries, man­darins, ba­nanas, grapes (for the older kids). Step four The cake. Oh­h­h­h­hhh, the cake. Here’s the thing; kids don’t care what it looks like, they just want to get that sug­ary good­ness into their gobs. You know it’s true, don’t deny it. I rec­om­mend get­ting a Sara Lee slab cake from the freezer sec­tion, a tub of choco­late frost­ing and a box of smar­ties. Dec­o­rate as you see fit. This year, I got re­ally fancy and tried to make my son a Lego brick. (I had some spare time on my hands.) It wasn’t ex­actly the most at­trac­tive cake in the world, but it tasted good and the kids were pretty ex­cited. Step five Step five isn’t re­ally a step so much as a list of all the things you do not have to do. Or­gan­ise games. You’re at a play­ground. The en­ter­tain­ment has al­ready been pro­vided by your lo­cal gov­ern­ment. You get to sit back and sip a latte while the kids amuse them­selves. Thank you democ­racy. Or­gan­ise bal­loons and dec­o­ra­tions. You’re in na­ture. Out in the world. What do you need a bal­loon for? Or­gan­ise party bags. They’re ei­ther full of sugar or full of cheap toys that will in­evitably go in the bin at some point. Do the en­vi­ron­ment and your health a favour and don’t even bother. Or­gan­ise a meal. Hello. You’re at a play­ground for morn­ing tea. A bit of cake and cup of ap­ple juice is all you need. Take out a sec­ond mort­gage. The zero-ef­fort birth­day party is cheap as chips. Hooray! For more, visit www.kidspot.com.au.

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

NO FRILLS BUT PLENTY OF THRILLS: You don’t need to take out a sec­ond mort­gage if you host a zero-ef­fort birth­day party.

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