Small person’s birthday

Parents – I did this for you and I was not lynched. It is possible. You CAN have a birthday party for a four year old and NOT do party bags. Yes, really. In fact it’s quite easy. It was my 3yo’s birthday a couple of week’s ago (he’s now 4, *sob*) and usually we go as small as we can get away with, because he’s young, and the 6yo has his birthday 6 weeks before, so I’ve run out of energy. I know, rubbish parenting. Anyway. This year we thought we have to make a bit of an effort or he’ll notice that his brother had this huge camping trip with all his schoolmates, and while his birthday was just a bit of cake with the grandparents. So, I took a deep breath and invited everyone he knew. 

He’s only 4, so that’s not actually that many people. But we had 14 kids and 14 adults.

I planned the food. Actually he planned the food, he’s been planning it since his last birthday. He wanted it all to be monster-inspired, preferably Cyclops. So I made the cake I always make, and bunged a royal icing eye on it. It seemed to do the trick, he liked it. I liked the way the gingham ribbon holding the chocolate fingers on made it look a bit like Cyclops was wearing a bonnet!
Then we made monster cupcakes (an idea I nicked wholesale from another mother at school, thanks Shona!). Basically sponge fairy cakes, and then I bought a couple of packets of Dr Oetkers multi-coloured royal icing which the kids could make into any shape/face they desired. I also made eyeball slime – more of which later.
Anyway once the food was planned, I realised that this was the easy part. The bit I hadn’t really thought about was the party bags. It made me not want to have a party. And then I thought if something like that makes me not want to have a party, then maybe I just shouldn’t do them. So the night before I emailed all the parents and said I wasn’t doing party bags – I left it to their own discretion as to whether they informed their children. But not one child mentioned it.
I told my own children the day before. I explained that because it was an outdoor party – we held it in the local park, under some trees, near the paddling pool – there wouldn’t be any party bags. This is because we don’t have party bags at outdoor parties. Not a murmur. They totally accepted it.
I then chatted to parents at the party – and in between slaps on the back for breaking the party bag deadlock I discovered another great thing to tell children. “Yes darling, I know the fair looks open, but in actual fact it’s closed. It’s a private party and only people who’ve been invited can go. We haven’t been invited.” Yes! It works. Any more I can add to the list?


  1. Ice cream van, that’s always a winner ‘no poppet when the music plays it’s the ice cream man telling everyone he’s run out of ice creams’. Genius.

    • I didn’t know that one! I think my mum was just brutally honest. “No darling, you can’t have an ice cream”. No shilly-shallying! But my kids go on and on and on, so that could definitely do it – thanks!

  2. Obviously there’s the old ‘the bell on the ice cream van means that they’ve run out of ice cream’ schtick. But you must know that one already.

    The other cake-related one I can think of to diffuse arguments over who gets the biggest bit (which has never actually been an issue with our two, odly) is ‘one person cuts, the other person chooses which piece they want’ – you are guaranteed to get two completely identical pieces!

    Biggest b-boy’s birthday falls near Guy Fawkes night (or ‘Sly Fox Night’ as he calls it)so we usually have firework-related party and I gave the kids a small torch one year and a glow stick the next – no party bags, and they were all thrilled.

  3. Hahaha. See? *Everyone* knows that one!

    • Except me!
      My kids went to a birthday at the weekend and got a water bottle with a sucky straw thing. They both LOVED it, and the younger one seems to have developed a drinking (and weeing) problem ever since! He can’t stop drinking water, suddenly he loves it. Which has it’s issues. . .

  4. I was going to say the old ice cream van one, but it seems we all know that one …. my aren’t we cruel Mums …. hehehe :-)


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