Watching the BBC's very funny series, Motherland, I was put in mind of my own experience of giving children's parties. And there were many. Among other things, I learnt never to:
1. Give a party that lasts more than an hour and a half (if the invitation says "2pm - 5.30pm, the mummy concerned is a beginner. She won't make that mistake again).
2. Invite the naughtiest boy in the class. I know, I know. It's cruel to leave one child out, but by the time he's opened all the presents and trashed the cake, you'll see what I mean. And that leads me to:
3. Invite the whole class. Unless you live in an unbreakable castle, with sturdy ramparts and electric fencing round the moat, the whole class will be TOO MANY.
4. Invite the parents in with the children. They won't help; they'll stand round gossiping and expect tea, and probably wine. Plus, they'll see what a hash you're making of things, and you won't be able to shout at their child.
5. Leave the doors unlocked. At one memorable party, about ten little girls danced out into the garden and disappeared.
6. Let small guests into bedrooms. My daughter was mortified when a bevy of small boys broke into her bedroom and trashed it.
7. Admittedly this is unlikely to happen, but don't let the birthday child make a speech. At one party, my youngest son decided to stand on a chair and give a vote of (undeserved) thanks to me. He was promptly heckled, and reduced to tears.
8. Encourage your child to request a cake in the shape of something (Batman, a fairy castle, Barbie's horse etc). Tell him or her the the best cakes come in the shape of a cake. I have in my time made cakes in the shapes of, among other things, various animals, a farm, a truck etc. This takes hours, and the results invariably taste horrible.
9. And finally, don't give another party if you can help it. Ask your child to invite one civilised and well-behaved friend and take them both to the zoo, the cinema, Macdonalds - anywhere but your home. Your child won't get as many presents, it's true, but he or she is unlikely to end up in tears. And he'll have a calm, happy parent. Which, as we all know, is the thing every child needs most 😀