Ever since my daughter started preschool, my social life revolves, thrillingly, around kids’ birthday parties. These parties are as formulaic as Groundhog Day–if the groundhog was turning three and had the Ebola virus. The kids play, cough on each other, get dirty, eat pizza, drink from each others’ juice boxes, wipe their noses on their hands, eat cake with their fingers, melt down, pass out in the car, and wake up with runny noses. One weekend, we attended four different parties and our whole family ended up sick and tired in the most literal way.
After months of pounding the party circuit, I’ve been forced to come up with a few birthday party survival strategies, and I share them with you:
1. Eat Before You Go: By all means, let the kids chow down on all that birthday party crap. But you—you should fill up on something fresh and healthy beforehand. Then you won’t feel desperate enough to eat greasy pizza and gobs of white icing that taste exactly like the greasy pizza and gobs of white icing from the last party.
2. Sanitize: There’s a popular birthday party location where I live called My Gym. Though it’s always a great time, we affectionately call it “My Germ” due to the likelihood of picking up a bug from 20 kids sharing the monkey bars. We all know washing hands is key to preventing colds, but I find it nearly impossible to lure a hyped up kid to the bathroom while a party’s in full swing. My solution? I pack Baby Magic No-Rinse Wash in my bag.
And I tell my kid, “no grub before you rub!” Or something like that. It cleans gently without water, and is hypoallergenic, paraben-free and cruetly-free. Sometimes it’s my only line of defense between that revolting birthday party germ/dirt/snot sludge and finger foods.
3. Label Drinks: Pack a Sharpie or a set of stickers to label and lay claim to juice boxes and water bottles after you open them. Otherwise, you’re bound to be swapping spit with the entire birthday party. Sharing drinks = sick for days.
4. Leave Before Cake: I know it seems criminal, and even a little bit rude, but scooting out right before the cake cutting can prevent that epic sugar high/crash that ruins the rest of your day. I use the promise of the goodie bag to lure my kid to the car (and that’s only after I’ve secretly removed any teeth-destroying ring pops or excessively pointy toys). “Only kids who are buckled into their car seats get goodie bags” is one of my favorite rules, and something I never imagined I would say so often.
5. Just Say No: Four parties in one weekend is more than any family can take. When you have multiple parties, try a divide and conquer approach (one parent handles Saturday, the other Sunday). Or just realize that you can’t do it all, and send your regrets. I think it’s nice to give a gift even if you couldn’t attend, especially since that family may have come to one of your parties.
So remember: Don’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t show up starving. And don’t forget your Baby Magic!
(Baby Magic products were furnished for my commentary. My opinions are my own.)