Reflections of a Halloween Party – From Hell!
Don’t ever throw a Halloween party and invite forty 3rd and 4th grade boys! Two weeks before Halloween I decided it would be a “great” idea to combine both of my boy’s birthday parties. I thought this would be an easy breezy way to “get er done.” I bought adorable Halloween themed invitations and meticulously wrote one out for each boy. Of course, the school philosophy says to include all the kids in the class so that is what I foolishly did. That was mistake number one and this would be the first and last time that “all the kids” would ever be invited.
The cards were delivered with the usual request of R.S.V.P. A week and a half rolled by and I had only heard from two people. What invitations really should say is: Are you coming or not?! Two days before the party, I was panic stricken not knowing if I would have two or forty kids. The original plan was to keep the party outside – a perfect plan really. The boys could play out most of the time, get all of their energy out and come in the last half hour for cake and ice cream.
The day before the weather remained warm and beautiful – keeping in perfect line with my outdoor theme. At that point, I hadn’t heard from everyone, but I had a good idea that I was facing large numbers. Truthfully speaking, I often invite people at the last minute in secret hopes that no more than two will show up.
By noon on the big day, the temperatures started to dropped rapidly – A half hour before arrival time – it was snowing! It was as if someone above was playing a cruel trick on me. The temperature had gone from 60 to 35 in a matter of hours and I had 40 active boys arriving and no good place for any of them. As the parents dropped off I did my best to put on my gracious hostess face. I smiled and told them there was no problem with them dropping off and coming back in three hours and that it was fine if they needed to drop off a sibling. What the hell was I thinking and what were they thinking asking me to keep a sibling? What I should have said was that I was crazy for every putting a three-hour time frame. In fact, I was crazy for every having this party in the first place. I wanted to say they had to stay and help out because there was no way in God’s name I was ever going to manage 40 plus kids in a 1500 square foot space. Couldn’t they connect simple dots? I suddenly felt more like an understaffed drop off day care than the hostess of a birthday party.
Suddenly, I had to scramble and figure out inside activities. I called my mom in a state of panic and thankfully she was to come by with a large bag of tricks. She was able to take 20 of the boys and set up structured games and activities for them. Of course my mom is always more prepared. That’s what moms are – prepared – just not this one.
Meanwhile, I took the other 20 kids outside in the freezing cold. It was now sleeting and windy. I had 20 kids that were now in high gear – 4th grade boys gone wild! Not one of them was listening to me and it was going to be a miracle if they left unharmed. I swear these boys were feeding off my vulnerability. They were like a pack of hungry wolves, just waiting to attack. How would I ever escape this alive? I had an hour and half left of this miserable party and all I wanted to do was crack open a bottle of wine. I just stood watching. I watched as things spun further and further out of control. I knew it wouldn’t be long before neighbors complained or the police were called. I had lost control and there was nothing I could do to reel these kids back in. I never in my wildest imagination thought that fourth grade boys could act like this!
Most of these parents are people I had never met before, but I was well past the point of being a gracious hostess. By the way I greeted them, they knew they had to leave right away and staying a moment longer to look for a goody bag was out of the question. I knew at this point that any chance of people liking me or making friends was out the window. I didn’t like their kids and they didn’t like me. It was a perfect fit. My hostess face was now a thing of the past and I no longer had any filter. I didn’t hesitate to say that the party was a complete nightmare and I’m pretty sure when these families left, they knew there would never be a party at 16 Pleasant Hill ever again!
Want some good mommy advice? Don’t be a hero and try to invite everyone your child has ever known. This party was definitely not an instance where bigger is better and inviting a handful of kids instead of 40 might have at least helped me from getting hypothermia and having my house destroyed. Plan small, manageable parties with plenty of structured activities and if you have to plan a larger group than do not do it at your house! There is a reason why off-site places like bounce zones and indestructible warehouses were invented. Lastly, if you are thinking of combining your children’s birthday parties – don’t!