Children and Birthday Parties

So, last year I waited until the end of September to start thinking about DD1’s birthday. I learned kid’s birthday parties are sorta like weddings. You have to plan them far in advance.

By the time we started, it was far too late for most things, so we ended up hosting it at home.

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This was extremely stressful, and frankly, the party was only so-so for my daughter and her friends.

October starts my busy season at work. It’s also Halloween, other family members’ birthdays, including immediate family. Yeah, it’s a pretty full month. Let’s just say her party last year was half-baked, but we got away with it because most of the guests were four.

We won’t get that luxury this year, especially as DD1 will be in kindergarten. So, I started planning early.

I’m not Pinterest mom, but we can do better than putting everything together the night before the party. Yeah. We were real organized last year.

amazonmom
So, so true.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with:

 

Dance Birthday

The dance place she dances at hosts children’s birthday parties. They provide an indoor venue (critical as we can have snow in October), and one of the instructors takes care of entertaining the monsters children. They also take care of the invitations, set-up and clean-up.

I’m leaning towards this because I’m really busy already. I bring the birthday child and cake. They do everything else

 

Water Park Birthday

There is a small indoor water park in our area. They offer birthday packages where the kids can play in the pool and on the water slides, then afterward they had a room for the monsters children to eat cake before I send them home.

However, this would mean getting into a swimsuit to help monitor them in the pool. I’d really rather not, but it’s an option.

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Not this kind, but I’d like it better!

Other

  • I’ve checked the YMCA, but all kids have to be 6 and older.
  • I asked her about bowling, and she said yuck. Didn’t like the bowling field trip at school and quit after less than one round.

 

As I’m offering the two choices above to my daughter, she proposes a third: an at-home Zelda party.

I squirm. I explain to her that our house is pretty small, she couldn’t have nearly as many friends over.

  • Read: I don’t want to clean and prep for the party. Or clean up afterwards. Or entertain monsters children for two hours.

She says she doesn’t care. She’ll just have fewer friends over. I try again, explaining that not many other children are going to know who Zelda is. She says she doesn’t care, they can come as other princesses.

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Not sure why it’s called Zelda when all you ever see is Link.

So, I back off. Maybe we can convince her later if we phrase it right.

We try again at dinner the next day, and I explain that the dance place has themes and she gets to pick the one she wants. She seems pretty happy about doing the party at the dance place and picked the princess theme.

Then, comes an awful, rushed, hectic morning. We’re finally in the car, with everything we need (I’d forgotten something and had to turn around twice), and now DD1 has me again trapped in the car.

You know where this is going. Yeah, like that.

She tells me she really doesn’t want to do a dance party. She really wants a Zelda party at home. I explain again that we can’t have as many friends come if we do the party at home. I explain again that I don’t think her friends will know who Zelda is.

She is undeterred.

She wants a Zelda party.

I told her to think about it. I have a little time yet to make a decision.

She gave me the patented DD1 look and said she’d think about it, but she already told me what she wanted.

*sigh*

How about you? Ever have to throw a child’s birthday party? Any pointers or tips?

The Games We Play

People love games. Video games. Board games. Professional sports. Games on our phones.

Games are also a great way of showing more about the personality of the characters we write or learning more about the people we meet. Are they a poker ace? Perhaps chess is more to their tastes. Do they run off and leave their party all the time, or do they hide behind the tank? Do they mark the cards in Candy Land (looking at DD1 here)?

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Or maybe you just drew Queen Frostine.

Perhaps they throw the chessboard to the ground if they’re losing. Maybe they never flinch even when they’re bluffing. The fact that they are bluffing also tells us something about them.

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There are a couple of tried and true games Regency fiction uses to get characters together, usually croquet or lawn bowling. Archery contests are occasionally used, usually to showcase a character’s skills.

 

Yes, bowling. The sport of kings. In 1511, King Henry VIII banned bowling for the lower classes and imposed a levy on bowling so only the wealthy could afford to it. Another law passed in 1541 (and not repealed until 1845) prohibited workers from bowling except on Christmas, and only in their master’s home and in his presence. So, yes, pretty exclusive stuff if you’re reading or writing historical fiction.

 

Croquet

In Regency romance novels, croquet is usually depicted as a light-hearted sport used as an excuse for the hero and heroine to be together. The characters are never shown as competitive, and frequently may not even finish the game.

So not my experience.

The only time I ever played croquet was with my in-laws, and to them, it’s a competitive sport (not quite as bad as Heathers). They even have an annual competition that is pretty serious business, although they also like to play “camp” croquet. Imagine setting up a croquet obstacle course over uneven terrain, rocks, sticks, twigs and sand. Fun to watch, but it has nothing in common with the Regency depiction of croquet.

 

Lawn Bowling

Again, another sport used to keep the hero and heroine together. You see this a lot less often than croquet in what I’ve been reading, and I’ve never read of actual bowling in a novel despite its popularity with royalty. Not sure why it’s so much less popular unless the authors are concerned most readers don’t know what an elite sport it was.

I’ve never lawn bowled. Seems like a lot of work to go out and set-up the pins after each roll of the ball. Granted, those that would be playing during the Regency period would have servants to do the unpleasant work. I am not sure if modern-day bowling would have much in common with lawn bowling in England, and the few experiences I have with modern bowling make for funny stories. Not sure those would translate well to historical fiction.

 

Archery

You see archery a lot in Regency fiction. Gives a reason for the gentlemen to take off their coats, and allows the hero to demonstrate his skill at the manly art. Sadly, I see few heroines bringing it in archery competitions.

As for archery, I’ve never even held a bow. The closest I’ve come to one is seeing them  at the sporting goods store. Of course, modern bows are nothing like what someone in the Regency period would be using.

Don’t believe me? Go take a look at a compound bow.  Not much like the ones we think of from the tales of Robin Hood.

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So, while I don’t have a lot of experience in Regency games, what I do have a lot of experience in is board games. And not the Milton Bradley ones of my childhood. DH loves games and has collected quite a lot of them. From easy games we can play with DD1 like Stone Soup to games like Twilight Imperium (classified as an epic board game) that comes with a rule book longer than the novel I’m working on.

Not sure if board games will ever come into play in Fantasy Romance, but you never know. I need to do more research and learn about the different games people played.

How about you? What games do you like? Do you like bowling, croquet or archery? How about board games? Do you use them to show more about your characters?

More importantly do your children cheat at Candyland?