petite anglaise

June 2, 2009

party planner

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:04 pm

Every time I think about Tadpole’s upcoming sixth birthday party I am filled with dread.

In previous years I’d always had a cast-iron excuse not to throw one. When she was three, for example, Tadpole hadn’t yet started pre-school and only knew the two other children our childminder cared for. Despite the fact that we’d been separated for over a year by this time, Mr Frog and I rallied around and took Tadpole on a day out to Disneyland Paris, with the help of a kind reader of this blog who worked at Disney head office and offered us free entry passes.

The following year, there was no question of throwing a children’s party in the minuscule flat Tadpole and I had, by then, moved into, and as mamie and papy happened to be in town staying with Mr Frog, all that was required of me was to head over to his place with cake to drink a glass of bubbly with them while Tadpole ripped open her presents.

Tadpole turned five two days after my wedding day and, as space was still a huge limiting factor, I simply invited over a couple of friends and their children for cake and wedding party leftovers, which we shared in my tiny living room cum bedroom. Dazed from the exertions of the weekend, I was inordinately proud of myself for having managed a return taxi trip to Pantin to retrieve Tadpole’s oversized birthday parcel (a wooden dolls’ house) from the postal sorting centre so that her gift would be awaiting her in her bedroom when she got home from school.

This year, however, I’ve finally run out of excuses. I now have the space necessary in order to invite seven of Tadpole’s favourite classmates over for the traditional 3pm to 6pm party slot. Tadpole is ecstatic at the prospect – and has been since approximately September last year. Meanwhile I’m at my wits’ end, wondering how on earth I’m supposed to entertain eight children for three whole hours, indoors. After all, blowing out the candles and eating a slice of cake (or two) will take all of ten minutes, won’t it? French children, you see, don’t eat dinner until at least 7pm. So the British birthday tea is replaced by a mere late afternoon snack.

“What did you play last weekend when you were at Milan’s party?” I enquire of Tadpole, trying to glean as much useful information as possible while concealing my rising tide of panic.

“We pinned the tail on a pig,” Tadpole replies, after a long pause, seemingly unable to recall any of the other activities which took place. “With a bandeau over our eyes… And then we went outside and played in the cour.” I sigh. Letting the children run around in our small communal courtyard was an option I’d been entertaining until construction workers begin to use it as a storage facility a week ago, due to structural work to be carried out on a neighbouring building.

When I discussed the impending party with Mr Frog – it’s actually taking place on one of his weekends – he graciously consented to bring Tadpole over in time for the party and said he would probably stay “for a little while”. Meanwhile, The Boy, who – quite understandably – has little desire to share his Saturday afternoon with a throng of shrieking, sugar-fuelled children and, what is more, doesn’t wish to trample on Mr Frog’s toes, is planning to make himself scarce.

Which just leaves me and my rapidly expanding waistline, armed with any suggestions my kind readers are able share in the comments box below…


It went really well! Thank you for all the suggestions. I cut the party down to two and a half hours, banished boys altogether (!) – aside from The Boy, who was brilliant. We alternated boisterous games with quieter activities (making bracelets, decorating iced shortbread biscuits). Successes included ‘pin the nose on the Hello Kitty’, a race involving smarties and drinking straws, a variation on musical bumps where the last one to sit each time had to put on an item from the dressing up bag of tricks until everyone had three hats and dissolved in a mass of giggles… And a kind fellow parent turned up a little before the end and made balloon animals. All in all, a resounding success!


  1. Sleeping Lions.

    That’ll keep them quiet for ages.

    Comment by Gemma — June 2, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  2. Pass the parcel is a good way of getting them all to sit down for a bit…

    Comment by Amy — June 2, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  3. The birthday party day is the worst day of the year which is why I never have my son’s party on his actual birthday ! Why not have a theme – fairies (too old at 6?) or ABBA and let the kids dress up, dance, sing and eat lots of fairy cakes? Or you could just do what we used to in the 70’s – musical statues, pass the parcel, drink luke warm squash and eat egg and cress sandwiches !! Your only problem is that you can’t have a glass of bubbly to make it seem OK !

    Comment by somersetgirl — June 2, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  4. Might this birthday party provide you with a perfect opportunity to introduce all the little froglets to some traditoinal English party games?
    – as well as Tadpole’s aforementioned ‘pin the tail on the pig’ (do the French have something against donkeys, I wonder?), there’s always pass the parcel, musical chairs, musical statues, blind man’s bluff, etc…

    Whatever you decide to do, ‘bon courage’ Petite!

    Comment by Nick C — June 2, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  5. Rainbow leader to the rescue…

    1) Three hours is quite long for children of this age, is there any way you can reduce the time?
    2) The park. They can all run around in the park after birthday cake, and throw up somewhere other than your flat.
    3) Outdoor games in the park – although my Rainbows have their favourites, children of this age find it very difficult to learn rules so perhaps work out what they are playing already (and make sure YOU know the rules as there’s no way 6-year-olds can explain them)
    4) If you are going to do pin-the-tail on the pig, make sure you have multiple prizes as you are going to want to play it until every child has won, or a) it will take 2 seconds and b) there will be tears
    4a) Ditto pass the parcel. Huge parcel, many layers, sweets in every layer.
    4b) Musical statues/dead lions. Helpful for adult sanity/quiet.
    5) Pinata – but use a poster tube, and a hefty paper bag (not a real pinata) as they won’t have the strength to break it otherwise.
    6) Making things – they take FOREVER to make things at this age – you can buy little kits to make masks or princess crowns or something like that, just provide glue and scissors – this is a VERY good time filler for children this age as they take about 1/2 an hour to cut, stick and colour something very simple.

    Comment by katie — June 2, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  6. Okay… here we go:
    – Make sure there’s something else than chocolate cake. At my son’s first BD party, he was turning 5, 3 out of the 5 guests didn’t like chocolate cake. I hadn’t even considered this possibility and had to give them bananas, because that’s all I had. So have a second cake, or crêpes, they love crêpes!
    – Make sure there’s another adult, and that you have the parents’ phone numbers. I remember a gruesome party my son was invited to, where one of the little guests fell into a glass cabinet and needed stitches and the host’s mother couldn’t get hold of the parents.
    – Mine like a “bar à bonbons”. You just line up bowls with all sorts of sweets, gummi bears, the very French “fraises tagada”, chamallows etc etc. They’ll help themselves at the “bar” and they can take the leftovers in the goodie bags you’ll have bought.
    – I once read a great rule for the number of guests: you invite as many kids as there are candles on the cake. I can handle seven 7-year-olds, but not 15…
    – My daughter always liked something “creative” at her BD party. One year we made pearl necklaces, one year we painted rocks, one year we made salt dough (I don’t recommend the salt dough, that was kind of scary, but it was such a success that we had to do it again, one year we painted Easter eggs – for 6-year-olds, the painted “galets” are nice, and they can take them home with them, as door-stoppers or so).
    – They also like to dress up. So if you have a big box with “déguisements” (old clothes, hats, big necklaces…), that could keep them occupied for a while. And then you spend another five minutes taking pictures.
    – One year I painted their faces – lion, princess, cat, bear…

    That’s it for now, can’t think of anything else.
    I’m so glad my kids are teenagers now. Pizza, ice-cream and a few DVDs and they’re fine… Good luck!!!

    Comment by theycallmepat — June 2, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  7. PS games really don’t take that long – for a similar recent experience see

    Comment by katie — June 2, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  8. Right, all you need is as follows…a load of already made cupcakes and some icing tubes…kids love that…a DVD of some disney nonsense and a tub of crayons and loads of paper. Add a pinch of pass the parcel and you are all done.
    Good Luck!

    Comment by anne — June 2, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  9. what about showing a movie? that eats up hours. there must be some favorite children’s film you could arrange. i also second the “making things” idea. making crowns or funny hats is an excellent idea!

    Comment by franko — June 2, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  10. “Pass the parcel” (wrap a ‘prize’ about 15 times). Play music, when it stops, the kid holding it gets to remove a layer of wrapping paper. Repeat, until the one to remove the final layer ‘wins’. (have consolation prizes on hand for the tears that inevitably follow the ‘losers’). You can really drag this one out, playing the music longer and longer each time before it stops.

    Musical chairs! Always a party favourite round these parts.

    A video also works well if the party is themed. (We just attended a 4yr olds ‘Ben 10’ party where the kids watched the video for a good hour, as well as playing games.

    Comment by Ness @ Drovers Run — June 2, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  11. i was going to suggest decorate- your-own-cupcake like above. is there anyway you can reduce the time to 2 hours without seeming too un-french?

    Comment by beyond — June 2, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

  12. For my daughter’s 5th birthday we organized a scavenger hunt. Granted, it was outside in the park but I think you should be able to do it indoors as well. I’ve created a piece of paper that showed various objects the kids had to find and bring back.

    Comment by Nadia — June 2, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  13. If you were in states, you could take the wee ones to Chuckie Cheese, eat cardboard pizza, get hammered with the other moms on watered down beer and let a mechanical rat entertain them.

    Just a thought. :)

    Comment by John in Florida — June 2, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  14. Ahh I run kid’s parties as part of my job. Get a parachute out and sing things like row the boat and peekaboo and play parachute games. They LOVE that. Do you have bubbles? Kids are utterly mesmerised by them. Then party games like the smarties game or the chocolate game where they dress up in hat, scarf and gloves. If you want any other ideas let me know :)

    Comment by L.C.T. — June 2, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  15. Hi,
    For a while my job was to organize and entertain birthday parties for kids.
    Here are a few very easy suggestions:
    1. You can find at Tati’s cotton T-shirts. Get 1 per kid + some permanent markers of all colors (silver and gold included of course) get them to decorate their own shirt, front+back+sleeve, and suggest themes (princess, knight, alien….)that should take 45 mn.
    2. In the kitchen (if big enough) get them to make truffles or edgehogs ( and to make sure they don’t stain themselves take garbage bag and cut out hole for head and arms. That’s another 45 mn.
    3. Entertain them for 2 hours and get them to watch an exciting video for the last hour.
    4. 45mn +45mn + gôuter + video = over 3h!
    In the worst scenario, if you have too much time, plan some real classic fairy tales (Rapunzel, Thumbelina), full version, and read the stories….
    This will reassure you there is no dead time, nore over-excitement.
    Good luck, you’re gonna like it I’m sure.

    Comment by Bennett — June 2, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  16. My daughter’s just turned 8 and we did the cake decorating thing… I cannot tell you the result, it was just unbelievable (and pretty inedible until you removed all the sugar pearls, roses, hundreds and millions and all that off the top) but it was certainly good fun. I do agree with the comments above, pass the parcel (with a sweetie in each layer of paper so nobody loses out) and musical chairs are favourites with all ages. Or you can go the “craft” way and cut out the contours for crowns out of hardish card paper and provide glue sticks and feathers, pieces of silk paper, etc and they will love making their own crowns (or masks, or cone hats). We live in the South of France and we found that birthday parties normally here consist of children playing and running around but without too much structure and I find that these games are a real hit. And when you give them the party bag… You shoot straight up to the top in the popularity list! Hope it works out!!!

    Comment by Carolina — June 2, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  17. I suggest you check this place out : Look for “kermesse” under K. They have dozens of age-appropriate game ideas.

    Comment by ontario frog — June 2, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

  18. Dress-up games are always fabulous, unless there are boys coming to which they will be extremely bored, perhaps. Make sure to play music, at a shower recently, the kids table was packed with all goodies to decorate little wooden jewelry boxes – paint, glue, diamonds, feathers, what have you. That took a good 45 mins alone.
    Good luck!

    Comment by Margarita — June 2, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  19. I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, but I think just putting on a video would pretty lame for a birthday party….they’re spending half the party zoned out like zombies. I would second the cake/cupcake decorating. Also, if you have cheap second hand stores (like goodwill here in the states), it’s always fun to buy some dress up clothes (Old lady gloves and purses for the girls, ties and hats for the boys) and let them go nuts.

    Comment by Jessica — June 2, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  20. I’m not sure why The Boy would want to disappear for this time period. 1) he’s her stepfather and therefore a part of her life and 2) he’s your husband and therefore Mr.Frog and he will just have to get on, at least be cordial during Tadpole’s birthday party. Plus, eventually he’ll do the same thing with your baby!

    Comment by Jessica — June 2, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  21. Definatly go for something ‘make and do’ As carolina said french children are not used to structured activities – so what ever you do it will be a hit.
    For my 6 year olds birthday we made picture frames – cardboard cut out decorated with stickers, glitter you name it, and stuck this to cheap ikea picture frames. Took a group photo (did the right thing and asked kids parents if ok) and each child had their own take home present – 45 mins!
    Dressing up is a real favorite for 6 year olds (thats all they seem to do at the parties my daughter goes to).

    Comment by Ciara — June 2, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  22. My daughter turned 6 a few months ago and she also had her first party.
    We hoped for a while that the weather would be nice enough to let the kids play in the yard, but it turned cold and wet, so we went down to plan B…

    First : Makeups, a real hit with little girls. My wife had a makeup book and let every kid chose its model, it took a good 45′ to make all 6 girls, meanwhile the rest of them were playing in the bedroom with the toys (hey, they’re having tons of toys on christmas, so why look elsewhere for fun on BD party ?).

    Then, presents unwrapping, hoping that no feelings are hurt at this bluntly honest age.

    After that came the cake, candle-blowing, etc… Based on our experience, do not make a too big cake, they will already be full of candies and won’t eat a lot.

    Once the cake finished, there was a pearl-necklace atelier, or for the more active ones : back to the toys.

    And to finish the party, a DVD will calm all of them down while waiting for the parents : it can take the last 45mn of your schedule.

    Good luck !

    Comment by Jem — June 2, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  23. I second the vote for Pass the Parcel (or “Pas de Cadeau” as my daughter’s friends call it, since that’s what they shout whenever a poor child excitedly tears off a sheet of paper only to discover yet another one underneath).

    In fact, any of the games you remember from your childhood seem to go down a treat with French kids. Musical Statues is good too, and you can make it go on forever if you handle it right.

    Good luck, anyway – and bon anniversaire to the young lady.

    Comment by Stuart Mudie — June 2, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  24. along with everyone’s activity suggestions, my first thought would be to make it two hours. that’s still PLENTY of time for tadpole to feel like the belle of the ball….

    Comment by BeanMa — June 2, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

  25. Down here in the south of France I have found that some mothers like to stay for a while either when dropping off or collecting their little darlings (I’ve got a 13 year old so I am some years ahead of you). I found it sociable to have some coffee or tea ready to give them. Getting to know mothers when your child is young helps when the requests to go round for an afternoon or a night start coming, when its not a birthday. At least you have got some idea of what the mother is like beforehand and perhaps more importantly they have had time to work out that although you are English you can at least speak French and are ok to leave their kid with. It doesn’t get easier when your children get older, it just gets different.

    Comment by Janice — June 2, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  26. Fishing parcels takes quite long, my mum used to do that. Parcels are wrapped and tied with a ribbon making a big loop, you put them on the floor and the children have to catch them with a rudimentary fishing pole (a broomstick, 1 meter thread and a S-hook). If you have the baby stuff at hand you can even put the parcels in the playpen (le parc ?).
    Have fun!

    Comment by Sourisdansroquefort — June 2, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

  27. I’m in the UK where we tend to have parties away from home (obvious reasons!). Play centres, bowling allies, cinema, swimming etc. Don’t know if France is as equipped for parties but it’s so easy…

    Comment by Michelle — June 2, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

  28. i’d say … Mario Kart :)

    Comment by The Boy — June 2, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  29. I agree about making paper crowns. Consider having some paper and crayons/markers/glitter/scissors on hand. The kids should write their names on it and decorate the edges. You can help make sure there’s enough paper to size it/tape it to their heads. And, lining them up to take photos will take some time and be fun. Kids adore looking goofy for photos.

    Instead of cake, what about having some basic cookies ready to be decorated by each kid? That would also help if any of them don’t want cake.

    Comment by Alissa — June 2, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  30. Hmm. I’m definitely warming to the idea of inviting only girls, which will allow me to shift the focus onto them dressing up as princesses, putting on a bit of kiddy make up, making their own bracelets or something similar, and decorating cupcakes… Then they can pin the crown on the princess, play pass the parcel and statues. And I’m going to blow up a load of balloons and have some balloon based games too. It’s taking shape..

    Plus, I’m going to be daring and shave half an hour off the ‘traditional’ length and go from 3.30 to 6pm. I will stick out my bump and I’m sure everyone will understand!

    Comment by petite — June 2, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  31. If they make their own bracelets and have their own decorated cupcake that also does away with the need foa goody bag!

    Musical chairs is another good one!

    Comment by Ellie — June 2, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  32. Hey petite, finished the book, really enjoyed it. Liked the fish finger sandwich, that took me back to college. Appreciate you didn’t write the front cover copy but… Paris, yes; Love, yes; Trouble – what trouble? Looking forward to Rendez-vous. Good to see you are still juggling Mr Frog, Tadpole and now The Boy.

    We did girls only for my daughters 4th, not 5th but suspect we will for her also forthcoming 6th as she doesn’t really have any boy friends at this stage (brothers excepted)…

    Comment by jermac — June 2, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  33. Have a mini fashion show. Gather together a lot of different dress-up items (scarves, costume jewellery, etc.), put them in a pile and let the children dress up as they please. Then have a fashion show and take photos, which can be handed out as souvenirs of the day.

    Comment by Forest Green — June 2, 2009 @ 7:12 pm

  34. Having a theme is always fun for little girls especially. I remember my mom did a unicorn theme once, complete with unicorn pinata and plates. For activities:

    Dress-up is great, as well as musical chairs (though that tends to take more space). And I’m not sure what “pass the parcel” entails exactly, but we always did a musical chairs-type passing of the birthday gifts in order to decide which present to open first. Each kid starts with the present they brought, the music goes on, and when it stops Tadpole can open the gift she has in her hands.

    Crafts are great, too, but they can be really messy at times, so the bracelets idea is best, I think. I’m sure it will be great fun for Tadpole no matter what happens, just be sure to take a lot of pictures! I remember most of the birthday parties I had thanks to my mom’s photo albums…

    Comment by alessandra — June 2, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  35. Balloons filled with helium always bring delight to children. The stings hanging low enough for them to jump and grab them. How about a simple game of treasure hunt? With the prizes being tiaras, if you indeed have a girl only party. There were a lot of boys at my son’s party, though much younger than Tadpole, and they were super rowdy. I imagine at any age and at a party they will be rowdy. The girl party sounds like it could be civilized. :)

    I found a lot of great party things at this shop:

    Comment by PutYourFlareOn — June 2, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  36. I agree with several previous commenters, but here’s my list of games I remember from my childhood parties:
    1. musical chairs
    2. duck, duck, goose (if there’s room)
    3. limbo
    4. mother may I (aka Giant Steps)

    I also remember learning how to do simple magic tricks during birthday parties. Magic tricks were performed, then we learned how to do them ourselves. (The small props were given as party favors.)

    Comment by delaïdo — June 2, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  37. Decorate face masks. The girls at a friend’s 5 year old’s birthday LOVED it. Just make sure to cover the floor with newspaper.
    Otherwise pass the parcel – a British speciality which French kids don’t know (how cool will Tadpole be for introducing a new game?!).
    And when they get to boistorous dead lions…I never liked that game as a kid, I love it as an adult!

    Comment by Loopy — June 2, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

  38. I haven’t read all the other comments so I apologise if I am repeating anything here. How about the mars bar game when you roll the dice and if you get a six have to put on a hat, scarf and oversize gloves and try to chop up the mars bar (or french equivalent) with a knife and fork – you get to keep eating till someone else rolls a 6 and then you have to pass everything on….or the dried pea game – 2 plates each, a straw and some dried peas – they have to try to transfer the dried peas from one plate to the other just using the straw i.e. sooking hard to hold the pea on the end of the straw….first to transfer all the peas wins. I agree that making something is always good – but there are loads of great party games out there….

    I hope you have a great time!

    Comment by Di — June 2, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  39. I haven’t read through all the comments, so this may have been suggested – but I think musical chairs still works with kids and can be done indoors and works off a bit of the sugar high!

    Comment by Pattoo — June 2, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  40. When we lived in a tiny Parisian deux pieces after my divorce I had a party for my daughter at a place where there was a massive play area (piscine a balles etc) and the staff took care of the kids while you had a coffee. They did face painting and games and had tea. Can’t remember where it was though! If I remember I’ll come back and post cos it was a fab way to have a party that didn’t leave you pooped and didn’t trash your house…

    Comment by Jen — June 2, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  41. I hired a chef for my daughter’s party and we will do a morning cooking class and the girls will get to have a brunch with the food they make She will focus on kid-friendly foods and that will take up most of the time.

    Comment by Christy — June 2, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  42. Clowns and ponies – that’ll do the trick!

    Comment by rhino75 — June 2, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  43. I dont think there’s much more I can add to all the fab ideas that have already been suggested but when we couldnt use a garden we had indoor picnics that went well. Put a big plastic backed tablecloth out on the floor in the lounge or kitchen for them to sit on (and protect your floor!) and let them have their cake and snacks as if they were outside. You could even ask each guest to bring a fabourite teddy to make it a teddy bears picnic.

    Good luck, hope it all goes well


    Comment by Heather — June 2, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  44. Moi je dis: atelier pate a sel, atelier dessin, atelier “on fait des bulles sur la table avec du liquide vaisselle” (les enfants adorent, mais attention a l’aspiration du dit liquide vaisselle au lieu de souffler dans la paille pour les plus jeunes), un peu de musique, ils danseront, une histoire! Allez bon courage et HAPPY BIRTHDAY a la petite! ^^

    Comment by Vanessa — June 2, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  45. Hi,
    definitely have another adult around. No video I’d say (too young!). If you can get to your local park, I’d do that: Parisian kids are too much cooped up anyway plus they’ll love the picnic b’day (with little boxes of juice, a Haribo tub or two & an easy to slice 4-4, you’re set!)
    As for games, being both French and a former UK resident, I’d say French kids are just happy to be together & play. Make sure you’ve got a couple of games up your sleeve should their imagination / energies flag. (possible outdoor suggestions: J’ai perdu mon mouchoir; some skipping ropes & a set of élastiques; a game of tag / chat perché & my 3 kids all-time favorite: 1 2 3 soleil.
    Enjoy it: it’s great fun provided it doesn’t become elaborate!

    Comment by silent follower — June 2, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  46. Geez these all sound so fun I want to come!

    Comment by Angela — June 2, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  47. Bon courage.

    Comment by marie-Hélène — June 2, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  48. You could do what my mom used to do. She’d do a ‘scavenger/treasure’ hunt, but she did it by writing clues, and you had to find the next clue to find the next, which then led to the grande finale.

    Do the hokey Pokey…put your left foot in, put your left foot out, do the hokey pokey and shake it all about….

    Good luck!

    Comment by Catherine N. — June 3, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  49. Frankly, you’re doomed. Had a horrific experience at my child’s sixth birthday party in April (memory still fresh) when she essentially locked herself in her room because she wasn’t allowed to go first at the pinata (a misguided attempt to impose manners). Extraordinarily successful and keeping them entertained for a full half hour before their parents mercifully turned up to take them was the device of throwing some crayons on the floor and giving each girl a paper plate and asking her to draw a mask.

    My personal experience in Belgium is that pass the parcel did not work particularly well with a bunch of kids who didn’t know the rules but perhaps you can be more firm than I was.

    Comment by Anne — June 3, 2009 @ 3:04 am

  50. I would suggest to flip through Cécile’s pages at
    she has held a birthday party recently for her daughter and despite the fact the latter is slightly older than Tadpole, you might grab some useful ideas… or hints towards ideas…
    have fun! :)

    Comment by Dodinette — June 3, 2009 @ 3:29 am

  51. try 2-4p… eat pizza and stick to the rest of #30 plan

    a movie even a short one is probably too long for a bunch of little wriggly girls to watch!!

    btw: are you going to be moving with your new addition on the way?

    Comment by kara — June 3, 2009 @ 5:15 am

  52. Maybe the princesses could put on a performance once costume pieces are made and makeup is done?

    Comment by Tess — June 3, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  53. musical chairs and pass the parcel!! they can play these for hours!! especially the second one as they gain little prizes. Have you decided on little favours / goody-bags in the end? or don’t they do that in France?

    Comment by Stavroulix — June 3, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  54. I think you got off lightly – in Italy you are expected to invite the whole class! We hired the local OAP’s day centre (!) and an entertainer. Bit pricey but worth every euro when I consider the alternative of entertaining 30 kids (who inevitably bring siblings) for the afternoon.

    Comment by Cath — June 3, 2009 @ 10:09 am

  55. Little girls love to play dress-up. Get a lot of cheap feather boas, plastic jewelry and tiaras, and some play makeup and let them make each other and themselves up as princesses. Stereotypes be damned, they’ll have a good time and it should take up at least a half hour.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — June 3, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  56. By the way you probably won’t be alone. Many of the mothers will probably stay for the party and if you know at least one of them well, you can ASK her to stay and help so you’re not all by yourself. Have some champagne on hand for the adults and then if their kids cry or act up, they can take calm down their own kids. You will definitely need a helper or two.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — June 3, 2009 @ 10:23 am

  57. You are definitely going to need all the help you can get. I suggest you enlist the assistance of various friends, but also of both Mr. Frog AND The Boy, who should be getting in as much childcare practice as possible before Baby arrives! :) He may as well get used to spending his Saturday afternoons with shrieking, sugar-fuelled children!
    Just give them different jobs to do, preferably in different parts of the apartment. One could run the crafts table and the other could meet the parents at the door and offer them refreshments or run the eatables section of the party.
    In fact, if I were you, I would leave both of them to it and retire for some well-earned rest mid-party, only to wake up several hours later, when all the kiddies have been picked up and the mess has been tidied up. It would be a very good bonding experience for them, no doubt! :)

    Comment by happyforyou — June 3, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  58. I didn’t take the time to read all these comments, probably many very helpful, just rushed to get my 2 cents in before heading into the shower.

    Get help, at least another set of arms. It is shocking how much mayhem 8 six year old children can generate. I hired two teenagers to help me when my twins turned six, and had their first b-day party. I limited them to 4 friends each, but it was still 10 brats, er, I mean sweet little grade oners, in my home, and was I ever glad. They had ideas, youthful energy, two legs each, equal number of arms and eyes, and they organized games galore. Plus, they stayed and cleaned up after. Best damn money I ever spent, and I could barely afford it at the time. The ex popped in, useless as tits on a bull…..maybe Frog is better in that area, but just in case…….

    Comment by gwappa — June 3, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  59. Please readers dont judge the boy too fast! Yes he will be away for Tadpole Bday party, this doesnt make him a bad stepdad.
    He needs to do what feels confortable for him. I am sure the boys cares a lot about Tadpole, and his has been considering her feelings also.
    Believe it or not, but even in a society where 1 marriage in 2 end up by a divorce, stepfamilies are still a bit tricky to handle when it come to special celebrations (Bdays, Xmas, ect…)
    Petite good luck with the party, big kiss to the Bday girl!

    Comment by Cecile from London — June 3, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

  60. Is Tadpole too sophisticated for pass the parcel, musical statues, musical chairs, crocodiles? If so then maybe they could make something arty (i.e. messy).

    I am very impressed you have managed to go six years without having to do a party!!

    Comment by Hollinda — June 3, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

  61. Hi Petite

    Firstly ask another mum to do not have to do this all by yourself.

    I started to write down all the games,crafts etc I have used but to be totally honest the best party my daughter had..infact it was her 6th,was when I hired a Puppeteer.The children had the best time and as all I had to do was food and party bags,so did I.

    Good luck

    Comment by lex — June 3, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  62. Also, musical statues and ‘Simon says’.

    And I agree that both men should be there to help pregnant you.

    Comment by Catherine N. — June 3, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  63. I am NOT going to be the pig (again).

    Comment by Meg — June 3, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  64. I second the Musical statues game – I did a 5-year old party not long ago and that was a big hit.

    You can get a pinata at Toys R Us (much cheaper than at Fnac Eveil & Jeux although they have them as well), that was a HUGE hit and actually lasted 25 minutes. Also at Toys R Us are face masks to color; I found they spent 30 minutes doing that.

    My son ended up crying in his bedroom during his 5th birthday party and said he wanted all his friends to go home because he was tired!

    Comment by abby — June 3, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  65. Hi. Do you want me to pop over and do some juggling for the little ones?

    Comment by Jester — June 3, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

  66. Can’t you just take them all to McDonald’s (or McFatties as it is affectionately known in our house these days)and let one of those totally bomb proof studenty types entertain them for a couple of hours?

    Comment by twinklefax — June 3, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  67. A couple of other suggestions:
    1. Fill a bag up with dress-ups. Put some music on. The children dance in a circle and an adult moves around the inside of the circle. When the music stops, the child the adult is infront of, dips their hand into the bag and puts on whatever they have pulled out. It’s good to have an electic mix. Children tend to find this game very funny.
    2.A very large drawing – Get a huge sheet of paper. You can buy rolls of paper at Ikea and ask the children to draw and/or write something on it for Tadpole. Keeps the children very busy and quiet and makes a nice present for Tadpole. OR do No 3.
    3. Cover the table they will be having the goûter at with sheets of paper sticky taped together and put containers of textas here and there. Keeps them at the table a little longer.
    4. A memory game – Put a selection of objects on a tray. Give the children some time to look at them and then cover them up and remove one. Uncover the objects and ask the children what is missing.
    5. As others have suggested something creative. At my youngest son’s 5th birthday we had an origami atelier using very simple kits made by djeco. They all loved that – both boys and girls.
    6. I agree about the treasure hunts. Children seem to love them particularly when there are clues involved. One year I put the clues in balloons. They had to find the balloon, pop it, and get the clue out. Also the clues can be drawings if the children can’t read.

    hope any of the above helps
    Good luck. And a very happy birthday to Tadpole
    Look forward to hearing what worked well as I will be hosting a sixth birthday party in Oct.

    Ps – small French children do not eat very much.

    Comment by Justine — June 3, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  68. Jaysus, to think I was 10 when Tadpole was born!

    Most ideas I’ve already thought of are already mentioned.
    But theres this game I’ve played where you get a cereal box and each kid has to pick it up without using their hands. Once each kid has done that, cut off about a cm, and proceed around the circle. As the box gets shorter, they can’t get on their knees, so flexible kids that can do the box splits would be quite good. It’s really funny to see how people attempt to pick up the box!

    Judging by the amount of suggestions, you’ll fill the time! Good luck and Happy Birthday to Tadpole! :)

    Comment by Poser — June 3, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

  69. If it wasn’t suggested I say hire a clown, or a fairy for a couple of hours, to do the work for you. I’ve seen it happen, kids outta control all of a sudden mesmerized by a clown reading them a story, doing magic tricks, etc. He even had the adults fascinated for a couple of hours, while they sip a glass of wine. Might be work the money.

    Good luck.

    Comment by ang04 — June 3, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  70. I wouldn’t worry. We’ve had three parties for my son now. At each, husband and I have come up with fun games for the young uns who have usually watched us jumping around like complete pratts and not joined in. The only things that kept the amused was last year when we hung donuts from strings and they had a race to eat them and playing balloon tennis. They were more than happy to come and just play with Rory’s toys. Its a great feeling when they all leave and you think, ‘cool we’re done for another year’. Only kidding we had fun and so will you and tadpole.

    Comment by Sher — June 3, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  71. I’ve been fascinated to see all the creativity which your readers pour into organising a party for six-year olds. If you’ll excuse a comment from a non-playing spectator, it really is rather marvellous.

    On the other hand, I admit I’m not exactly sorry I don’t have to do such things! I hope it all goes well.

    Comment by John Norris — June 3, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  72. Don’t forget musical bumps when you have to sit down when the music ends.

    Comment by Sher — June 3, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  73. Oooh really warming to the subject now. Don’t bother yourself with much effort on the food front – cake, crisps, and fizzy drinks. I usually chuck a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the table to make myself feel better. The first party we had, my sister in law and I spent HOURS cutting out dinasour pizzas, dunking marshmallows in chocolate and putting chipolatas on cocktails sticks – no one was interested.
    Also goodie bags are expected now. I hate that and wish I had the guts to not do one but I never have – what happened to going home with a slice of birthday cake wrapped in a napkin. Good Luck.

    Comment by Sher — June 3, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  74. Whatever you do, do not feed them the cake first! Seriously, feed them something decent first. And in my experience, children, ESPECIALLY girls, LOVE to dance to pop music. So be prepared to bogee!

    Comment by cj — June 3, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  75. If you go out, be really careful to have PLENTY of adult help and also watch out that the adults don’t chat together and (as is completely understandable)forget to watch the children the whole time, really important in this day and age. Maybe allocate certain children for each adult.

    Also re the sugar highs, don’t forget kids do also love healthy stuff too, sticks n dips, lovely fruit etc. You could shock the poor unsuspecting little French children with jelly and then you can eat it all afterwards!

    I agree, really important to have ALL contact details for each parent, address, home number, mobile number, etc. And that 3 hours is toooooooooooo long!

    Bon courage, et amusez-vous bien, bon anniversaire a la petite (de Petite!) ps how about employing a cleaner for afterwards, well worth it. Perhaps you could have some special little calm, quiet thing you can do with Tadpole afterwards for the wind-down anticlimax time afterwards, a special Lush bath or whatever …

    Comment by Tiffany — June 3, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

  76. Pass the Parcel, Statues, Musical Chairs, face painting.

    Hope you all have a great time and a very happy birthday to Tadpole.

    Comment by Googlebear — June 3, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

  77. The best birthday parties I can remember from my childhood always had killer party bags – a bottle of bubbles(the ultimate party-bag gift), slice of cake, lollipops, balloons, along with any kind of cheap tat that is colourful and plastic.

    I hope she has a lovely day!

    Comment by Ms Budd — June 4, 2009 @ 12:00 am

  78. Pinata !!!! Pin the tail on the , anything you can come up with . Paris = Mime …… Joke books have them in all kinds . AND the DVD Movie !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Love you all

    Feeling it for the Boy :-(


    Comment by ==Alaska — June 4, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  79. Definitely get a friend or two to help. Mums are best I find. My husband was pretty useless but the mums were brilliant.

    Do craft, as it uses up a lot of time and they have something to take away with them. But avoid glitter glue unless you have loads of adult helpers (it got everywhere at my daughter’s 6th birthday!)

    What’s the time Mr Wolf is a fantastic game too.

    Avoid party bags – they can get a bit competitive. I buy them a book each to take away. Here in the UK, is great as you can buy packs of books which work out at £1 or less. Have a couple of spare prizes too, as you can always do a game twice if you run out of ideas.

    Good luck!

    Comment by R2 — June 4, 2009 @ 2:23 am

  80. There are some super suggestions for a great party in these comments so I see no need to add my ideas. BUT it does concern me that Mr Frog and the Boy are not planning on being a significant part of Tadpole’s birthday party. They are now, and forever will be, involved in each others lives. It is time to behave like adults and do what is right for the entire family not what is right for themselves. Otherwise you will end up factions and favourites and that is far too much for one little girl to comprehend.
    Hope it is a great party!

    Comment by Melissa — June 4, 2009 @ 4:06 am

  81. You have enough ideas now Petite, and these comments will be useful to all of us, but in my experience children at parties usually do like, in addition to party games, a little free time to do their own thing. Sounds dangerous I know, but they don’t like every last minute to be organized for them either.

    Best AM

    Comment by Ann-Marie — June 4, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  82. P.S. I agree with Melissa (80).

    Comment by Ann-Marie — June 4, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  83. Lots of good ideas and support here, but I must add my small dissenting voice and agree with comments 20 and 80. Why does the Boy “have little desire to share his Saturday afternoon with six or seven children”? As those others have said, he is your husband and supporter and Tadpole’s step-father and is soon to be a father himself. On top of that, Tadpole loves both the Boy and Mr. Frog and they should both be looking at the bigger i.e. family picture and getting on with each other for the sake of the common good, if nothing else, surely? I would be very disappointed if my new husband made himself scarce at his step-daughter’s first proper party, when he can certainly play more than just the role of being there for you – I bet he would be a real asset in terms of entertaining the guests too! And Mr. Frog doesn’t intend to stay long either. Nobody is suggesting that it would be their favourite weekend past-time, but, to be fair, it isn’t yours either and Tadpole’s party would be much enhanced by having all three of you around… my opinion!!

    Comment by Lindy — June 4, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  84. I forgot something: you don’t need to move the time to 3.30. When you invite them for 3.00, they won’t be there before 3.30 anyway, you’re in France! And then you can chat with the parents, offer them coffee etc., so you’ll truly start the “organised party” around 3.45. In the meantime, the kids can play in Tadpole’s room. Also don’t expect the parents to be there at 6.00. One year, the last parent picked up her kid at 8.30, mine were already in bed!

    Comment by theycallmepat — June 4, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  85. Don’t you just love the comments! I do! & to think that the advice & opinions come from around the world! Love technology! I’m in beautiful South Africa & here the birthday parties are pretty much the same as they are around the world! Amazed that some think a movie/DVD would not work with 6 year olds! Bugaloo, who is “nearly” 5 (October) as she puts it, loves her DVD’S especially the Barbie ones. She has been planning her birthday party for awhile & has stated that she wants a Barbie dress-up/fashion show & no boys! Each of her friends will bring their own Barbie/doll which they will dress-up, including themselves! Little girls love make-up & dressing up! I have made drawstring bags with really cheap pink fabric & will put candy bracelet & necklace in along with a small kids make up kit which they can use in the dress up & take home! They will have a fashion show when finished! Last year Bugaloo’s friends made her birthday cake. Put cupcakes, cake decor goodies, icing, popcorn, jellybeans & juice which they ate while they decorate. The finished cupcakes where put together in the number 4 with candles on & viola instant birthday cake which kids & moms enjoyed eating as much as making & I will definitely do the same this year! My eldest daughter, who is 25, along with Bugaloo’s dad & my love, are planning a puppet show with Barbie & Ken – should be interesting! Think Tadpole would love her dad & the Boy to do a puppet show! Anyhoo! Have an absolute ball, you will be amazed at how quickly it is over! Time flies when we are having FUN! Have FUN!

    Comment by Li — June 4, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  86. What about a cookie decorating party? Lay out some sugar cookies, icing, various toppings and let them get to work. While the cookies dry, they can play a few games and then help to package the cookies up in nice bag tied with ribbon (which also acts as their take-home gift bag). Easy-peasy for you and fun for them.

    Comment by Mixing Bowl Mama — June 4, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  87. Apparently the 4-year-olds at my son’s birthday last year still rave about having one piece of coloured cardboard, coloured pens and making their own masks…. when finished, the eyeholes were chopped out, elastic stapled on, and off they went…. this year they got one box (like empty wine boxes) with paper taped on and drew on it (instant table), then made towers…. one hour of playing with Tadpole’s toys, tearing her room apart, one hour of such like crafts, one hour of cake and presents and then you get a foot massage. Good luck, Really its fun.

    Comment by BWonder2 — June 4, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  88. I think I’d better spring to The Boy’s defence here as, in fact, he has now clarified that he only thought of making himself scarce because he figured it would be nicest for Tadpole if her mum and dad were hosting the party and didn’t want to be in the way. He’ll basically step in as soon as Mr Frog disappears. Or may not disappear at all, depending on how comfortable it all feels…

    Comment by petite — June 4, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  89. I am very curious about who you knew at the Disney head office now. I used to work in the communications department. In fact, I learned of your blog through Colin who I used to lunch with every now and again before they got rid of all their correspondents.

    Good luck with the party. The only games I can think of are pin the tail on the donkey (or pig in France) and perhaps having a pinata, although that could get messy.

    Comment by Halcyon — June 4, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  90. Sorry – have you thought of a skating party at a nearby rink – or bowling etc., or a movie or is that not done in France? That’s what we do in the US – how else would we survive?

    Comment by Biddy — June 4, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

  91. I was in Africa a couple years ago, volunteering in an orphanage for children with disabilities. For our day of departure party, we had pipe cleaners and soap bubbles. The children ranged in age from 1 year to 10. They were incandscent as we made pipe cleaner tiaras, arm bands, bracelets, necklaces and anything else the imagination could invision. They broke out in ethnic song and dance, with everyone participating however they could (including the 1 year old, who swung her legs to the beat from her stroller). Simplicity is underated. Give children something colorful and easy to create with, and watch them revel in their newly found talents.

    Comment by sheba — June 5, 2009 @ 2:31 am

  92. pin the tail on the donkey
    pass the parcel
    musical chairs
    musical bumps
    musical statues
    wink murder
    murder in the dark
    sleeping lions

    Comment by Isabelle — June 5, 2009 @ 2:44 am

  93. In India, We play stick the bindi on the bollywood star. You just need a bunch of those red dots and a big poster of one of your favorite (or tadpole’s) movie star (any nationality will do). Imagine the children’s delight when they see the poster covered in red dots like measles or chickenpox. Initial each dot and whoever gets it closest to the centre of the forehead wins!

    Last year for my friend’s daughter’s b-day (same age as tadpole) I made cutout cookies and all kinds of different colored frostings and bought sprinkles of every color; the kids spent over an hour decorating cookies-then they got to take them home as a party favor. This can be done up to 3 days ahead of time and the frosting can be made the morning of-just powdered sugar, water and food coloring.. just ask the kids to bring a smock or shirt that can get dirty..

    Comment by Carrie — June 5, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  94. I think it’s great the Boy is sensitive to Mr Frog’s feelings-while it is of course Tadpole’s day, it’s also a celebration of when you both became parents and it’s lovely (esp. for Tadpole) that you can share it together. Good on the Boy!

    Comment by Tess — June 5, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  95. I agree with Tess @ 94. I think The Boy is being very fair, unless you are in this situation you have no idea how delicately it should all be handled. Congratulations on the pregnancy by the way … great news.

    Comment by Vic — June 5, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  96. Hey, petite – don’t sweat it. You’ve got a bucketful of good ideas now. There is always a kid who doesn’t want to play. No problem – if Tadpole knows ahead of time and is willing to share her toys. Bring in the snack/cake/present opening around half-way through, as an entertainment option in itself. Pick the easiest of the ideas that have been thrown your way. Enjoy the happy little people all around you, since they will be enjoying themselves. And think, you don’t really have to have any sort of authority, enforce manners or anything. Unlike the schoolteacher, who also has three or four times as many kids on hand. And don’t plan on cooking dinner afterwards, but order in pizza or whatever your equivalent is, and go to bed early. :-)

    Comment by Alethea — June 5, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  97. Yikes – I guess a bouncy castle is out of the question… Good luck and happy birthday to your sweet girl!

    Comment by teeweewonders — June 6, 2009 @ 12:11 am

  98. Hold a colouring in competition! Print off some outlines of Disney princesses/mermaids/fairies and hand out prizes for neatness, creativity etc. That’ll keep them busy AND quiet. DVDs are good, as are dress ups and standard party games. Good luck!

    Comment by Lauren — June 6, 2009 @ 11:31 am

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    Comment by boubou — June 7, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

  100. I think it’s weird that you and Mr. Frog would host a joint party to begin with. My ex and I do sep. parties; one for his side of the family, and one for my parents and friends. You and Mr. Frog seem quite a bit more friendly than me and my ex (understatement of the year), but I still don’t get it.

    Comment by Annonymous — June 8, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  101. Don’t count on any other parents staying (unless they happen to be your mates). Most parents are only too glad to palm their offspring off on someone else for the afternoon and can’t get out of the door quick enough.

    Get some paper and felt tips out – I am always amazed at how they never get bored of drawing pictures. A simple, non-messy activity.

    They also love to dance, so download some kids music. Mine love all that techno-type Bébé Lili stuff, plus the traditional Okey Kokey type things. In fact I think I have a photo of Tadpole and my Alys strutting their stuff at one of my girls’ parties.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — June 8, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  102. As a former French 6 year old, my most vivid Bday memories are of dress up parties, with any kind of fun old clothes, the main thing being accessories – hats, fake jewelry, and make up (hide your own, buy pink sparkly stuff).
    The games are usually much more fun when they have as few rules as possible and come with small prizes bought at the 1€ store.
    Cake decoration is fun too. Pate d’amande decorations are fun to make and not as messy as other options.
    Then you can invite all the tired princesses to participate in the big gateau ceremony involving as many cake – options as possible (sampling takes a looong time) with contributions from the other mums.
    Also crucial to your success : keep a wide variety of sweets available at ALL times.
    Good luck ;D

    Comment by Eloyne — June 8, 2009 @ 4:55 pm


    Here is a good website for children’s parties. But mostly just let them play. Buy play-doh or some sort of small game with prizes for all. Or dress up is fun at that age, lots of costumes for all to try on.

    Comment by Mary Jo — June 8, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  104. PS, don’t let “Annonymous | 1:51 pm” sway you and Mr Frog’s friendship. I get along very well with my ex and it is wonderful for the kids. We have family nights where we all cook together and have dinner. She should learn to get along with her ex as well; after all they have a child together.

    Comment by Mary Jo — June 8, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

  105. Dear petite. I think the best birthday parties start off with a bit of time where the kids can play by themselves (with supervision). Wastes their energy. Time in a toy room throwing stuff about and all that. Then some organised games. Then cake and sweets. Then send them home to their parents with a huge sugar hangover. And voila, your job is done.

    Comment by Little Miss moi — June 11, 2009 @ 3:09 am

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