Coulrophobia – The fear of clowns

All you need to know about organising your child’s birthday party, but were too afraid to ask.

I love my children, but I react to the coming of their birthdays with a deep dread. The hours of labour to bring them into the world were nothing compared to the arrangement of the Birthday Party.

The Birthday Party is my personal parental hell.

First off, I always leave it too late.

Secondly, the cost of catering for 25 small children and their 50 associated parents costs more than my wedding 12 years ago.

Luckily, it turns out that Small Boy Aged 7 has made friends with the daughter of a kids’ Party Planner extraordinaire.

She thinks nothing of organising a cordon bleu cake, arranging entertainment and catering for thousands. She loves it.

She is my hero and I am in awe.

Not only does she organise her own parties, but she does other people’s!

The Party ProsAdi was in the film industry, so she understands how to get a vast array of largely emotionally immature people to do stuff.

After her daughter was born, she decided to give Professional Momhood a shot and decided, as many do, that her creative brain was slowly atrophying under a pile of disposable diapers.

Adi loves kids. Kids love Adi. So, it made sense to start a new business for them. And the Party Pros was born.

The Party ProsMums have enough to do whether they work or not. Adi can take all the pressure off you and handle your party from start to finish.

I kid you not.

She will sort out your cake, your venue, your entertainment, your party packs, your decorations and your set-up.

All you have to do is provide the birthday person.

She is the Fairy Godmother of Parties.

As someone who loathes parties – giving them and going to them, I was at a loss as to how she could find this avenue at all enjoyable.

I would have thought it a one-way trip into a mental institution.

She laughed at me and explained that she loves creating a magic wonderland and seeing a child’s face transform with joy.

Ideally, she says, you should start organising your party three to four weeks in advance, however, some venues book up months ahead, so if there is somewhere or something you really want to do, book it now.

Fret not, if the time has passed, Adi has sorted out moms in under three days.

Back in the far depths of time when I was kid, before jumping castles and baby discos, birthday parties consisted of a cake, a clown and some games.

In some circles children’s parties have now taken on a status worthy of the Beckhams.

That leaves most of us out the ballpark.

The Party ProsWe’re lucky if we can conjure up a Ninja Turtle. Not that the kids care. They just want to run riot and eat cake.

Adi can’t hook you up with Angelina Jolie or Bono (who is, right now, caring deeply about something), but she can help you create the perfect party for your child.

What should you be prepared to spend on a party for your beloved offspring?

You don’t actually have to kill yourself. Adi is pretty sanguine about creating a party to fit your budget.

The truth is kids will have fun with a jumping castle or a jungle gym as much as they will with a fire-eater, a trick pony or a rock and roll band.

The Party ProsDespite a trend towards bringing up gender neutral children, it seems the old favourite themes are still the best one.

Little girls love princesses, fairies and my favourite, Hello Kitty (we share a birthday!).

Little boys love pirates, I have hosted two pirate parties myself, Disney Cars and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Entertainment options at parties are dependent on age groups.

The Party ProsToddlers need a sandpit and a couple of spades.

Face painting and crafts are a hit with the over 3’s and balloon sculptors and jumping castles are a staple hit.

From 4 to 7 magic shows, puppets and the animal petting zoo (or the snakes and spiders one) are popular choices.

Of course, the water slide is a hit with all ages – even the parents! Old fashioned party games also work well, so don’t discount musical chairs, pass the parcel or a good old treasure hunt.

The Party ProsAs they get older the entertainment becomes a bit more of a challenges, so Adi can hook you up with Survivor, Amazing Race and Fear Factor parties.

One memorable party incident was sparked by my husband stealing a chip from the kids’ party table.

The Mom, who was edge as it was, because the kids didn’t want to play Pin the tail on the Donkey, collapsed in a fit of hysteria and had to be sedated.

Adi’s words of advice to us parents are to just relax, sit back and let the kids do what kids do. Take everything out beforehand and then just let it go.

Like many people, I live in a smallish house. Not one designed to host 25 kids and their caretakers. Hence, I tend to fall back on venues.

The city is full of excellent places to host a party. Adi recommends Marmalade in Fourways. It is parent friendly and has an indoor area if the weather turns nasty.

She also rates Kinglets and Queenies, Farmyard Friendz and the River Cafe in Sandton.

Presents. You have to take one to a party, but what, and how much should you spend?

Adi’s rule of thumb is to spend between R70 and R120 on a user-friendly gift.

Kids don’t know how much things cost, they only care how much fun they have with them. Recently a number of my son’s peers have chosen to collect for charities instead – collecting dog food or asking for donations to the SPCA or a children’s home.

The Party ProsAside from the all important cake, there’s always the question of what else to feed the horde of children descending upon you.

Adi recommends a mix of healthy and sweet. Stick with finger foods, she says, as the kids will be too busy racing around to sit down and eat.

Her most important tip: Avoid allergy foods like nuts and small sweets that could lead to you performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on a 5-year-old.

Key to every party I seem to go to these days is the Party Pack.

The Party ProsNo Party Pack equals very unhappy small children coming down from a sugar high.

Adi offers very good value for money in Party Pack stakes with 2 or 3 little toys and some sweets.

So, your little guests go home happy clutching their packs and you can breathe a deep sigh that they didn’t bankrupt you.

Adi doesn’t only do kids. She can help you out with your party or a company bash. Let’s face it, we’d all like to be a kid again, even if only for a day!

The Party ProsI have always wanted an ice-cream cake for my birthday. Sadly, it is in the middle of winter and almost 40 years down the line, not an ice-cream cake is in sight.

You can have stock standard sponge or you could, like a local radio station did, opt for piñata covered with icing and indulge in some confectionary violence before gorging yourself on sugar.

Whether you need to organise a party for your child or for your inner child, Adi can help you create one to remember for all the best reasons.

The Party ProsYou can contact Adi at the Party Pros:

Telephone: +27 (0) 83 486 6781

Email: info@thepartypros.co.za

URL: www.thepartypros.co.za

Or follow them in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Party-Pros/113449048741627

Columbine

Although I’ve taken serious measures in my kids’ music education
I am encountering a high degree of immense frustration
Not liking Led Zeppelin is simply not an option
They simply transcend personal opinion
Jim Morrison is another case in point
Where my six year old’s reaction was designed to disappoint
His music tastes seem more to lie
Somewhere around nineteen eighty nine

My team is going off for an extended creative lunch
I am struggling to repress the uneasy hunch
That it will once again be postponed
Or despite a collective saddened moan
We’ll have to come back before going home
I will not entertain such a gloomy outlook
I’m going to call the restaurant to book
A table for 5 and if we get out of here alive
Then we’ll order a round of Tequila or two
Bugger! I knew it was too good to be true!
I’ve just been told not to hold my hopes high
That my CD is in all likelihood going to spit in my eye
I’ve asked my team to remain at large
Until I’ve chatted to the man in charge
If lunch is out we’re going on strike
Like every other industry and demand some rights!
Barring that I’ll go postal and do a Columbine
And send the powers that be off to meet with the Divine

I’m off tomorrow morning to another birthday party
With another cake decorated with over a thousand Smarties
And small six year old children running riot everywhere
By ten o’clock I’ll be tearing out my hair
From the sheer effort to make polite conversation
While praying piously for some salvation
It brings to mind my mother who always had a friend
With a child just my age so mature must intend
For us to be best pals and play along just so
When in fact we loathed each other and couldn’t wait to go
You see I am so happy that my son has found a gang
But I cannot comprehend I that would make me want to hang
Out with their parents and try desperately to pretend
That because my son likes theirs we are now best friends
I will hopefully find Teresa who tends to boycott these occasions
And have a clandestine cigarette and plan evasive action

I spent year selling this beloved country
Before I almost committed hari kiri
But the brief hiatus I have been experiencing
Went up in smoke sometime last evening
I’ve received three briefs on the very same issue
All totally different and making reach for a tissue
To wipe away the tears caused by the bubbling swells of hysteria
That threaten to form a Tsunami like disaster area

The outcome of this afternoon’s excursion
Is that we shall undertake a little subversion
Come quarter to one we pack up our stuff
Say not a word and disappear in a puff
Of proverbial smoke to order that Tequila
Or perhaps a frozen strawberry Margarita!