The Party in the Park
Well, I survived the party in the park for Matilda’s 6th birthday!
In my last post, Things I Know About Birthday Parties, I discussed our fairly laid back plans for our party in the park and shared 4 ways to have a party when you are particularly time and cash poor:
1. Have the party at a park.
2. It is okay to buy supplies at discount shops.
3. You don’t have to put on a fancy lunch.
4. It’s all about having fun.
After the event, I have another sure-fire way to have a fun party without costing you the earth:
5. Ensure your party coincides with the grand opening of the park.
I nearly died when I realised the opening of the park was going to be the same day as Matilda’s party. I have mentioned before my dislike of crowds and queuing for stuff. Normally I would steer well clear of events like this but I inconveniently found out after the invitations had been issued, so there was no turning back.
All we could do was hope for the best and get there as early as possible to secure our spot for the day. Our preferred spot was a covered set of tables near the bike track where I had envisaged the adults could sit and converse and eat while safely watching the kids riding around the adjacent track.
We got to the park right on 9.30am. I estimate we got there about a minute too late. There was already a family laying claim to the tables we wanted to use. I did ask the woman whether she needed absolutely every table there but apparently they were having a big party and needed every single one. (I will note here that OUR party was bigger and lasted longer – so there, greedy table-hog lady!)
I just shrugged (okay, I may have complained in a passive-aggressive way about the greed of others…) and walked on hoping that we could find somewhere else to set up the party. We finally found a shaded table a bit further along and borrowed a tarp and a picnic blanket to set up “camp”, so to speak.
As we set up, we noticed someone else setting up near us – it turns out the local council had arranged for a magician to entertain the kids at the grand opening and he just happened to be setting up right next to us. Bonus! I started to be thankful for greedy table lady – without her greed we would not have known there would be a magician for the kids and certainly would not have set up right next to him!
So, kids started turning up, Matilda became loaded up with presents, food and drink were supplied and the party got cranking. At 10.30am the magician began his show and the kids were literally mesmerised for over half an hour. All the kids, except Gilbert, who has a history of not liking magicians and who, instead, spent some quality time with his grandparents (both sets were on hand for the day – lifesavers, each and every one of them!)
While the magician was working his magic (sorry for the pun!) my FIL discovered that there would be a free sausage sizzle for the kids. Double bonus! Once the magician had finished his show, we took the opportunity to sing happy birthday to Matilda and cut the cake before letting the kids loose on the free sausage sizzle.
I could not have planned this better if I had tried – actually, it’s a pity I can’t take any credit for it…
One of the highlights of the rest of the day was Gilbert taking on the might of the 3 storey high super slide – 3 times!
Another highlight (which also nearly brought me to tears) was watching Matilda play with her friends. At one point she had difficulty negotiating a climbing frame. Her friends encouraged her to move forward, and when she got into more difficulty, they helped her move back down.
It was wonderful to see them show so much care for her and even more wonderful to see Matilda not get too upset about not being able to make the climb. In that moment my hope for the party was realised – she had connected with her friends, if only for a short while. She had a fantastic time and seems to already have more confidence about returning to school tomorrow. Triple Bonus!
We ended up staying at the park for 4 hours – enough time to enjoy the sun (a little too much for me, judging from my sunburn!), for the kids to run themselves ragged and for us to declare the party a complete success. We’ll definitely consider holding more parties in the park (even if it doesn’t happen to coincide with free snags or a magician…)
Do you have a favourite birthday party venue? What’s the best party experience you’ve ever had?