On Saturday we had Jasmine's 10th birthday party and I have to say it was possibly the least fraught to date.
I've been having to do kids parties for the last 13 years.
It started off easily, aged one it's really tea and cake for the parents and each parent tends to take responsibility for their own offspring.
Aged two and matters get a bit 'bigger' and therefore more chaotic - I seem to remember my mom breaking her wrist at Jasmine's 2nd birthday party when she slipped on some spilt bubble mixture.
When Ben was turning 4 (I think) I had Jasmine* and for the following eight years we had to juggle two birthdays in the space of one week. Which is fine if you can do one party before the birthdays and one after, but here in Germany if you try to do that will be much sucking of teeth and tutting because it's considered bad luck. I think (but I could be wrong so don't quote me on this) that the reasoning goes that you can't have your presents before your actual birthday because 'what if you die?' Then my logic shouts out 'at least you'd have had your presents'....Maybe there's some other reason...shall have to ask a tame German and get back to you.
Over the years we've done the 'play warehouse' parties (about as often as we could get away with), cinema trips, petting zoo, farm, clown/magician, party entertainer, swimming pool, hair braiding & nail painting and a treasure hunt with cryptic clues (thanks to Grandpa Pete & Nanny Linda for that one) but this year was the easiest I think.
We had a 'build a bear' party. There's a chain of shops that has made it over to Germany, where you make your own teddy bear, you choose the 'skin', then you put the filling in, add a heart & sound box if you want, make out a birth certificate and then it goes into its own little pet carrier box for you to take home.
We took 10 girls (average age not quite 9) and although the car journeys there and back were a little on the noisy side (I drew the short straw as my Corolla Verso seats 6 + driver) the actual shop part was completely stress free (apart from the constant worrying about whether we'd still got 10 children with us).
I had wondered how on earth this activity could last the one hour I'd been told but when it's a party the staff make a real effort to make it special for all the children, we had a great time and all the girls (and later the parents) were impressed with their bears - one girl even went back to the shop that afternoon to buy clothes for her bear!
Now I just have to work out what to do next year, at least Ben has decided that he's too old for parties, I wonder when I can talk Jas out of them?
* literally, their birthday's are 3 days apart. That was the year Ben celebrated his birthday about a month early without ever realising it - we didn't live in Germany then!