The stress-free birthday party

It's hard to believe that it's two years since I wrote this post. Xander has just turned seven, and continues to astonish, delight and frustrate me. He's a sweet boy who makes me all too aware of my own flaws.

You may remember that for his sixth birthday, I made the controversial decision to cancel his party on the day; no one had RSVPed so we put a sign on the door and went bowling with him instead. That post prompted a lot of discussion, and I really did learn a lot from the comments.

This year we went with an easier approach. No RSVP or presents required, just meet at the local playground at 2pm (weather permitting) for cupcakes and playtime. We again invited a few of his classmates. I have now made mum friends who have children he likes, so it was easy to ask them, and Xander delivered invites to a few of our neighbours' kids.

There were no decorations, no goodie bags, no fretting about having a spotless bathroom and weeded gardens. I baked a sailing ship birthday cake (though I had a moment of terror when Vieve came to me with icing-covered hands- the ratbag stole all the cannonball Jaffas, so at least it was easy to fix), picked up cupcakes, a few multipacks of chips and some juice and we were set.

Dead on 2pm, it rained.

We went to the playground anyway.  It quickly settled to light and intermittent drizzle, and the kids were dressed warmly. People either texted to check it was on, or decided that it was too wet for their comfort.  The kids had a terrific time, and we had the playground to ourselves (except for two unaccompanied kids who pretty much joined in with us).

His birthday cake never made it out of the car. When the rain returned after a couple of hours we congregated in the car park to sing and eat cake under the shelter of our boot. The twins watched anxiously from the back seat as I cut the cake, and Vieve did her best to steal one of the crocodiles.  Cheeky miss!

It was a great, low-pressure way for us to all come together for his party; I'd totally do it again (weather permitting!). It was easy and inexpensive for us, and Xander had a marvellous time.

What's your best tip for stress-free birthday parties?

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