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Back in the Day…..“It’ll be a breeze,” I thought when I was planning my child’s birthday parties.

The first few years were easy. I’d stuck to the “cake with family” formula, reasoning that my child wouldn’t care as long as there was sugar and presents.

“I make a cake, I get some balloons, some little games, voila, done.”

Oh, how little I knew.

The whole process of kid birthday planning is, frankly, a nightmare. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Before you get the wrong idea, I’m not a mum who plans circus acrobats, animal farms, bouncy castles and limo rides for a six-year-old. No. I’m talking about your bog-standard games-in-the-park, cake and maybe someone’s grandad dressed up as Batman party. The women who go the whole shebang with all of the extra bells and whistles? Frankly, I take my hat off to them.

Firstly, the invitations. Who to invite? Do I invite the whole class or just half? Will the others get offended? What if I’m inadvertently splitting up a friendship group?

Do I need to invite the kid that my kid was “friends” with at my first baby group, in that me and the other kids mother plonked them next to each other? Do I invite my friends kids, even though mine and theirs don’t know each other? It’s as fraught as the seating arrangements for a wedding.

Then – who will turn up? Should I invite loads of kids and risk a tiny riot or just a few and risk only one kid turning up and possibly scarring my child for life? I’ve heard those stories, of a child left heartbroken when no-one comes and they are left by themselves. Those stories make me cry.

Do we have it at home where I have some element of control but there is the risk that people will linger, for hours? Or do I go to a park or playcentre where there is built in entertainment, but a kid could get lost on my watch?

Party bags – do I put lollies in there? Will parents be annoyed at the extra sugar? Will they think I’m uptight if I don’t?

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Party food’s ok: Fruit, sausage rolls, fairy bread, birthday cake, done. The planning of the games is ok too – the classics like Musical Chairs, Musical Statues, Pass The Parcel, Pin The Tail On The Donkey, are all classics for a reason. But can you serve the same food and have the same games every year, like a Groundhog Day party? Also – directing the games on the day is a nightmare. Should every kid get to win? What if they are really just not very good at getting chairs or being still? Will their parents hate me forever?

Maybe I’m overthinking it. But still, a few years into the whole birthday party thing, they fill me with dread.

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