Where I work, we host birthday parties for kids. And for those of you who do not know where I work, it is a cooking school. I work in the office. I'm a decent cook myself, but I'm not a culinary expert so teaching classes isn't something I do. I run stuff in the office. I book parties, events, format documents, correct misspellings in recipes ("Flay the chicken..." oh... Perhaps... filet?) when they come to me cut and pasted or typed out fast by one of our chefs.
As for the birthday parties, they start at age 5, and most kids usually don't want to have a cooking birthday party past about age 12 or 13. We have several different menus, some are simple (pizza) some are a touch more challenging for the older kids to take on (Asian, Hawaiian...).
I'm working this beautiful Saturday and managing for the day, which is something I don't get to do often but I actually enjoy. I don't think I'd be a good birthday party chef instructor. Managing is fun. For the most part. At least, it has been for me. I'm lucky that I haven't had a horror show of parents, petulant bitchy children, or an absolute chaotic nightmare of a day.
There are four parties today. Two in the morning, two in the afternoon. I'm making some observations here.
1. If you tell kids to do something in small instructions, they tend to do it. Give them 20 instructions in a row and you lose them. I learned this from parenting Geoff.
2. Make them repeat the four things you just said to them back to you and hold your fingers up and count them off.
3. Invariably, one kid will always still screw up. And that's okay. No blood, no foul.
4. Keep it slightly light, be a little silly.
5. I have a tendency to bring out all the silly in the kids... which is very very dangerous. Then, I lose them. So far, I've managed to not bring out all the silly. Just the right amount.
6. Sometimes, the birthday girl is a crying, whining baby, even if she's 10. Trying to help her cheer up sometimes is a lost cause. Hopefully she'll cheer up when she gets some sugar.
7. There is nothing sadder than waiting for the birthday girl to come out of the bathroom while all 9 of her friends are in the party, ready to go.
8. I'm so glad my kids didn't do stuff like that.
9. Sometimes, 12 year old girls are angels and I could spend all day talking to them. Today is one of those days.
10. A happy parent is worth a million bucks.
11. Ask at the beginning of the party if they wanted gift bags or not when the sheet doesn't indicate yes or no. Waiting until they are ready to go out the door means you're building 10 gift bags very, very fast.
12. Cupcakes are addictive.
13. When you tell a parent "No, you do not have to bring food and drinks and appetizers for the parents of the other kids" they won't listen to you... and then they sit there with two giant trays of sandwiches and fruit and drinks for all the other parents, who dropped their kids off and left... well, it's kind of amusing.