Monday 24 August 2009

A fun party is over

S and I had to pop a Tylenol before bed last night. What a day it was! Very tiring, very hectic but, in the end, a LOT of fun. I've always had some reservations about my ability to throw and manage a successful party. But all it took is some (ok, a lot!) of hard work and some intense organization over the last couple of weeks. Takeaway: Fun dos are not the perogative of the highly imaginative or the extremely creative (neither of which I am!); plodders like me can do just as well by adopting some party best practices and weaving them all together in an elegant manner (with a little help from Google of course). For example, although we hosted the party in a park (which might seem to preclude the need for organizing any party games and the like), we also sensed the need to keep 15+ kids occupied for 3 hours. Enter juice and fruit to snack on to stave off hunger pangs before lunch and cake; colouring pages to keep the quieter ones happy; individual bubblemakers (always a big hit); a tent for them to wander in and out of (though I would have done better to stock it with some toys); and two organized games which occupied almost half an hour.
The killer app, so to speak, was the venue itself. Agnew is a little-known park tucked away in the heart of Santa Clara, large enough not to feel crowded, but small enough to give the effect of a private space. The 5 picnic tables which we commandeered were in a very shady spot - an oasis of coolness on a hot summer day. The lunch arrived piping hot and delicious. The cake was suitably sickeningly sweet and thickly frosted and therefore a hit with the kids.
We had a ton of help in the form of willing volunteers who shepherded the kids to the games (and kept them there!), cut the cake, picked up and served lunch, clicked the pictures and generally allowed S and me to circulate and speak atleast a few sentences with each guest (quite a challenge considering the large number of people we had invited).
S and I got up bright and early and were at the park at 7.45 am. Santa Clara park tables are not reservable. They are available only on a first-come first-served basis which means that you need to land up early and make sure no one else is there before you. It took us about an hour to do the initial set-up - cleaning the tables, spreading the tablecloths, unpacking the snacks, cutlery, plates etc, and getting started on the decorations. At 8.45, S left to pick up the balloons and also his dad who would stand guard while we rushed back home to get ready and pick up my m-i-l and the kids. The party start time was 10 am and we were about 10 mins late in reaching the park, more than confident that our first guests would not arrive until 10.30 am but we were wrong! Bhavana (a school friend) and her husband and daughter were already there and were instantly at work putting finishing touches to the decorations. By 10.30 as expected, the crowd started to wander in and Ads was running all over the place in a frenzy of excitement. As people greeted him, I found him going straight for the gifts without even saying hello-thank you and I was trying to keep up with him and ensure he displayed some basic manners.
At 11.15 or so we started on the games. I played a bit role mostly on the sidelines while some friends and cousins took the leading roles and managed the unenviable task of keeping a bunch of excited 3-5 year olds in line and organized. The first game was a variation of pinning the tail on the donkey. In keeping with the party's firefighter theme, we tried pinning the badge on the fireman's helmet. Some of the kids were enthused enough to want multiple shots at sticking the badge in the correct place.
The next game was a simple one - we arranged a lot of small goodies on the ground and each kid had to throw a hoop over the goody that they wanted. Each kid was allowed 3 tries. It was hard because the hoop kept bouncing off the ground and anyway most the kiddos obviously had lousy aims. So we ended up asking each kid which gift they wanted, moving that item close to them so that it would be easy for them to throw the hoop over that item. It was hilarious watching my son, Mr. Easy-Way-Out, stand right over the toy car that he wanted, bend down and carefully place the hoop over it!
S was insistent that we get all the kids together with Ads on one side of the table as we cut the cake. He said it "looks very cute". I agreed, but it's a nightmare squeezing 15 or so kids all together on one side of a picnic table. I was actually planning to stay out of the cake-cutting and let my in-laws do the honours. Somehow in the chaotic moments leading up to the grand finale, I found myself right next to Ads and poor S was left out of the picture. He has been a little miffed with me for losing it and leaving him looking like a bystander. I wonder why the cake-cutting ceremony always becomes a little crazy. It's like people get into a sugar-deficient frenzy and start singing "Happy Birthday to you" before the birthday boy or girl is even ready to do their bit.
Anyway, these kind of parties are always a blast. But infinitely exhausting for the parents. Yesterday I thought -" Never again, it's too much work". But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself thoroughly. During one of the games, my camera suddenly died on me. Try as I might, I kept getting all sorts of error messages. Rather than fiddle futilely with it, I decided that I would look at the short cute excited people in front of me and no matter if we don't have pictures - I will imprint the happy memories of that sunny afternoon in my mind. Hopefully Ads will look back fondly at the memories we created yesterday.

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