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?