Friday, January 27, 2012

What not to do at a restaurant birthday party

Yesterday we celebrated G's 5th birthday. Since he had been asking for a while to go to Pizza Hut, we decided to have a Pizza Hut birthday party. Then, I told him he could invite three friends, in addition to family. He chose to invite a girl from church (I also extended the invitation to her mom and little sister), a boy from his preschool class (again, his mom was invited to stay, too), and the boy who lives next door. Also my niece and nephew came with their dad, plus Z, Nick and myself, and my mother-and-father-in-law, and my mother-in-law's sister who is here to visit for a couple weeks.

In total, we had eight children ranging in age from two to seven, and eight adults.

I called approximately two weeks in advance to book the party. However, at first I scheduled the party for Saturday, and then later called Pizza Hut to reschedule for yesterday (Thursday). When we arrived at the appointed time, however, my reservation did not appear in the books. Mistake #1; however, it was not my mistake, but Pizza Hut's. Fortunately, they had plenty of space for us, but it ended up being right in the middle of the restuarant. This was nice in a way, as I had access to the bar to put G's cake and gifts. Downside-- we were right in the middle.

We all got more or less settled, and I took down the kids' orders for their personal pan pizzas, and got a consensus on the large pizzas for the adults. Placed the order, and then we had to wait for the pizzas. All right, perfect time for a little game...Except, the game I had prepared involved the kids all sitting in a cirle and passing around a beanbag-- like "hot potato"-- until the music stopped. I'd brought a little toy music player along with me, but unfortunately it was too noisy to hear the soft music. Mistake #2: I had just assumed that there would be some sort of private party room that we would be in, not having really been in Pizza Hut before, and it turned out they did not have a private room at all.

Back to the game: it took forever to get the kids organized in a sort-of circle, and settled down enough to actually play the game. I ended up just singing the Happy Birthday song each time they passed around the beanbag (I was out of creativity at this point), and whoever ended up with the beanbag then got to go to a small pile of wrapped gifts (from the Dollar Tree) and select one to open. Okay, lots of mistakes here. Mistake #3: I got all different gifts, and some turned out to be more popular than others and a couple of the kids were disappoointed; I did have enough leftover gifts (I had purposely bought extras) that the kids could trade at the end, but the seven-year-old boy at the end was still unsatisfied-- and I can't really blame him, since his choices were either a coloring book or a puzzle more appropriate for a preschooler than for a second-grader. Not that I hadn't selected any gifts that would have been appropriate for him, but those ended up with the younger kids and of course they didn't want to trade.

Mistake #4: I should have told the kids in advance and made sure they understood to not play with their new toys inside the restaurant; by the time I realized this, however, they were all running around having a grand time and thank goodness their pizzas came soon, but for a good five minutes which felt more like twenty, chaos pretty much reigned. Along with this, Mistake #5 was not waiting until nearer the end of the party to even give the kids their party favors in the first place.

Mistake #6: G had so many gifts to open. I ended up having him open the gifts occasionally throughout the party as there was time, because it was just impossible to keep the kids all settled down long enough to do it all at once. And then, they took up so much space. If I'd been thinking, I could have saved our gifts to him to open at home, and requested that my in-laws do the same. Then he would have had only the gifts from his friends to open at the party.

As for the rest of it, the pizza was good, as was the company (when I could find calmer moments to enjoy it). The kids had fun-- I just hope it wasn't at the expense of the other patrons or the waiters. Needless to say, we left a generous tip when we were done.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I have a five-year-old!!!

Incredible. How did this happen?!

G is five years old today, and I am so pleased with the little man he's turning out to be. Looking forward to many more years with him under our roof. And he is and will be a great big brother to our other boys.

Of course he's not perfect, but I really have no major complaints. He is a good kid.

Happy Birthday, Gabriel