Wednesday, May 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


When adults take over kids’ partyWhen adults take over kids’ party
Rajdeep Bains
OW often have you attended a children’s birthday party and wondered why the adults outnumber the kids? And how many times have you dealt with a bored child who wants to go home, even though it’s his\ her classmate’s birthday? Birthday parties, earlier considered the domain of children alone, have a very different look these days. 

B’day games for children




When adults take over kids’ party
Rajdeep Bains

HOW often have you attended a children’s birthday party and wondered why the adults outnumber the kids? And how many times have you dealt with a bored child who wants to go home, even though it’s his\ her classmate’s birthday?

Birthday parties, earlier considered the domain of children alone, have a very different look these days. It’s the "done thing" to invite your boss and colleagues for your child’s birthday, even though that leaves no room for the kid’s friends. Instead of a simple party where kids can enjoy themselves with their own age group, we have an elaborate setting where adults try to outdo each other in clothes, gifts, as well as in the number of VIPs they know. The child, who’s birthday it is, generally has to be content with the presents and stay in the background.

Most parties nowadays have a DJ, who more or less takes over the party, whether the occasion warrants one or not. The noise, apart from being harmful for young ears, also does not allow for any other entertainment. Whatever happened to the traditional party games that were so looked forward to? The only excitement that the guest child can expect is the party bag or the return gift he\ she is going to receive at the end of the affair.

Focus on children

Shouldn’t a children’s party be just that—a gathering of children? Is it required that every party should look as if it’s been taken out of the pages of a society magazine? The party can, however, be easily made more child-oriented. Just focus on the child, whether it is the décor, entertainment or the food.

Let us begin with the décor. Looking at things from a child’s point of view necessitates their simplification. This means, of course, that you cannot have any breakables within reach. Put away your crystals and bring out the soft cushions and rugs. Children of all age groups will necessarily be pleased with plenty of colour. Lots of balloons and streamers, a couple of birthday banners and cardboard cutouts of cartoons can easily transform the party room into a child’s wonderland. Coloured sheets of paper can easily be turned into party hats and masks. The fluorescent variety can even be used in the decoration.

Theme parties are fun as long as the theme is something children can understand, and if you’re willing to put in a lot of extra work. Themes have to be incorporated into the invitations, decoration, food, return gifts and, if possible, in the clothes as well. A theme that would go down well with both boys and girls, and is quite easy to manage, is "safari."

"Safari" as a theme

For the invitations you can have paper with zebra stripes to write on. If you can manage a variety of rubber animal noses, they can be sent with the invitations with instructions to wear them to the party. The decoration can begin with a life-size cutout of a lion to greet everyone at the door where "safari" hats can also be given out. Balloons, streamers and crepe paper in shades of orange, black, yellow and green can be used along with zebra stripes cut out of black and white paper. Plastic snakes, lizards and bugs can be casually scattered about. Put in as many plants as possible to give a jungle feel.

The food table can have a centrepiece of stuffed animals and animal crackers can be scattered about as confetti all over the table. The food can include sandwiches cut into animal shapes with cookie cutters. The cake too could be in the shape of an animal. The party bag to be given as return gift can include small packets of animal crackers, animal stickers and erasers, all of which are readily available in the market.

Easy-to-eat food

Food for children is always a problem if you want a particular kind of spread. Unfortunately, young palates are difficult to please with any one kind of food. Therefore, food, of necessity, has to be a mix of various cultures and styles. It is possible for a group of more than 10 children to have choices ranging from Chinese to south Indian to American, or even Italian. A safe party menu could be cake, jam-and-butter sandwiches cut into various fun shapes, potato wafers, a variety of sweets which should not be difficult for children to eat on their own, noodles with as little chilli as possible, tiny pizzas that can be made at home using pizza base that is easily available at most confectioneries, and, of course, lots of ice cream.

As an alternative to the standard colas that are served at most parties, you can have lemonade, sherbets or even milk-shakes in various colours.

Whatever you decide, make sure that your child is involved in the preparation as that adds to the pleasure. Remember all the hard work is worth it just to see the gleam of joy in your child’s eyes. Happy partying.



B’day games for children

THE main thing in a party is keeping so many young and active minds entertained. Games are the most effective solution. Here are a few age-old ideas:

Musical chairs: Put chairs in a circle facing outwards, the number being one less than the children. Children run around the circle to the sound of clapping by one of the adults who faces the other way. The moment the clapping stops the children try and grab a chair each. The one left without a chair is out of the game. Take away a chair every time. The last child left is the winner.

Marking the donkey’s tail: Draw a large picture of a donkey on a sheet of paper, but without a tail, marking the spot where it should be. Blindfold the children one by one and make them try and mark the donkey’s tail with a felt pen. It’s more fun if you turn the child around a few times before letting him try as the disorientation caused by that makes things more difficult.

Passing the parcel: Get the children to sit in a circle and pass a stuffed toy around to the sound of clapping by an adult who looks the other way. No child should be allowed to hold on to the parcel for more than a few seconds. The child who has the parcel when the clapping stops has to withdraw from the game. The last person left is the winner.

Tied hands: This game is played in pairs. Two children have their adjoining hands tied together. They are then given a parcel to wrap. It is lots of fun watching them trying to tie a knot with their hands tied. The pair that finishes first is the winner.

Fill the glass: Each child is given a spoon and a bowl filled with water. An empty glass is placed at some distance. The child has to fill his spoon with water from the bowl and carry it to the glass. The child who fills his glass first is the winner.

Burst the balloons: Blow up lots of balloons and give each child a needle to burst them with. The child who bursts the maximum number of balloons in a given time is the winner. This might also give you lung exercise!

The jumping glass: Draw some chalk circles on the ground in a row. Give each child a plastic glass filled with water and make him stand in the first circle. On a signal each child has to jump from one circle to another all the way across without spilling any water. In case all children spill water, a measuring glass can be used to decide the winner.  

Improvisation in the rules can always add to the fun. — RB

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