An English Birthday Party

So today I attended my first children’s birthday party over here. O has been to one before, but I was afraid no one would talk to me, and I sent Hunky with him instead. Well, Hunky is out of town (STILL),  so it was me or nothing. And the party was for William (of the ‘I’m not your friend’ infamy), who is O’s closest school friend, and O was really excited about going, so we went.

The party was at a kid’s activity center – with ball pits, a trampoline, slides, etc. Perfect for a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds – they could run around to their heart’s content. But there were A TON of kids there, plus 1 to 2 grown-ups for every child. It was a pretty small area and it was crammed. So the kids played for about 50 minutes, then we gathered them to a cafeteria-style table, where they were served sandwiches, sausages, sausage rolls, chips, and carrot sticks. Then we sang Happy Birthday to William, and then they put the cake away.

That’s right, y’all – birthday cake doesn’t get eaten at the party in England. It gets cut up into pieces, placed into a napkin, and sent home in the goody bag. So strange! No opening of birthday presents either, which I am actually a fan of at this age, although I understand why people like to do it at the party too.

And I have to say that I feel pretty justified about being afraid that no one would speak to me. No one did. That’s just the English way, I think. And there’s nothing wrong with it, I guess, its just so alien to how I grew up. In Mississippi, where it isn’t considered weird to strike up conversations with random strangers, it’s considered having good manners.

Anyway, I am having a hard time deciding what to do for O’s birthday, which is rapidly approaching. It would be so easy just to have some of our friends with kids over, just like we did with Y’s party, only maybe organizing some activities for the kids. Or we could do something on base, like the bowling alley or the play place, with the same people. But O goes back and forth about wanting to invite school friends, and I just don’t feel comfortable inviting all those perfect strangers to our house. And the base is out if he wants school friends to come – they can’t get on base. So one of these activity centers is the best option if he wants school friends there too, but this play place charges 8 pounds per child. That’s $16 – doesn’t that seem like a lot, for an hour and a half party? Although that does include the food (only for the children though – grown-ups aren’t given the option to eat). And while the food seems rather yucky to me (think cold sausage links), its the sort of food O LOVES, and you can’t bring your own food. 

What do y’all think? I’m just not sure I’m ready for a birthday party where there will be grown-ups that I don’t even know. Its a weird age – the kids are old enough to have school friends, but not old enough to do a drop-off birthday party. I’m kind-of hoping I can convince O to just invite our military friends to have a party here or at the play place on base – cheap, easy, and if we do it at home, we can have DRINKS!

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4 Comments

Filed under life in england

4 responses to “An English Birthday Party

  1. Beth

    Drinks are always a good thing…my hubby was so disappointed last year when we had the party at the gymnastics place in Fort Walton. We couldn’t bring beer there, obviously.
    This year we’re planning on having it in the backyard. Our new BIG backyard. 🙂
    I understand your nervousness though. It would be weird to have people there you don’t know. Good luck! And thanks for reminding me how soon Logan’s birthday is coming up!

  2. Jennifer

    I’d stick with people I know and that would talk to me. That’s just weird, and I would have no interest in paying $16 per kid for the adults to be rude to me.

    However, I will say that $16/kid with food included is not a bad price. We have plenty of places that are $250 minimum and that only gets you 12 kids total. Considering we have four of our own, we could only invite another 8. And I like to include siblings…and well, that’s why we just don’t do the party places anymore. It’s ridiculous when it’s all said and done.

  3. we do everything at home. i just invite my favorite people so that i am comfortable and don’t feel like i have to entertain.

    i know that day will come when the girls will have a very strong opinion on the matter. but even then, i think i will let them pick one or two of her closest friends and take them to do something special. then still do the family and close friends at our home.

    it is nice because my friends kids are her friends right now, but i know that will change as she gets older…but it makes it a whole lot easier for the time being!!

    i am with you on this one lauren 🙂

  4. I totally know what you mean about the kid’s party scene over here. We’ve been to a few parties and each one is different and so now that I am planning my son’s (4th birthday) party I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. I hired a bouncy castle to put in our backyard and am serving cupcakes and juice … but now that you mention it it would be great to have adult drinks as well!! It seems some of the parents will be dropping their kids off, which is ok with me because I don’t know them and am not a big fan of small talk chit-chat – which doesn’t seem to be very common here anyways. I only hope it doesn’t rain!!

    Good luck – whatever you do will be great!

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