This weekend we celebrated my children’s birthdays.

In fact, Sebastian turned four in February, and Rafa turned two about a fortnight ago. You see, we’d had a really stressful move to Chile, I’d had a couple of pregnancy scares and there were a few hiccups moving into our new apartment.

We just didn’t have the time or energy to plan a party.

So we lied to our kids that they were just three and one. The nursery spilled the beans, damn it.

‘Mummy, teacher says I’m four, not three’.

‘Mummy, teacher wants too see photos from my birthday’. 

Obviously teacher doesn’t have kids of her own.

Walking out of the hospital relieved that my baby was alive, I was already stressing about their party.

Should we hold something at home and invite all the neighbours with kids? What about the nursery – did we need to invite the full class? Would adults come too? Or…eek.. would they drop off their kids and we’d be left with dozens of unruly preschoolers? What was the protocol for parties here in Chile?

But hold up, hold up.

The party wasn’t for me. Or for the parents. It was for my kids.

To hell with everyone else. To hell with local etiquette. What would make my kids happy?

Balloons…

A few friends including his four legged buddy Momo

Cake…

More cake…

A pinata…

And a few goodies…

We kept it small and left the super hero organisation to an equally super little play cafe.

Lots of families were taken sick. The party went from small to tiny. I was worried my kids would be disappointed, but of course they didn’t notice. They were too busy having fun.

Sure, we ordered some tea, coffee and snacks to keep the parents alive, but the real effort went into the kids.

For Sebastian’s first birthday I went a bit overboard, ordering a cake that cost more than a really, really nice pair of shoes. I spent hundreds on decorations. Mr Ralph Lauren must have celebrated as much as we did with the amount of clothing I bought. I imported case after case of Cava (In fact I wanted Champagne, but couldn’t get that past the Spanish husband police).

I really enjoyed the party, but I was too busy pouring (and drinking) Cava to notice where my kid was most of the time.

For next year, I’m thinking about making their parties even simpler. A cake, a few balloons, some friends – job done.

I’ve heard stories about extravaganza parties for kids of all ages. Horse drawn carriages, edible walls, Michelin star chefs…

If the kids truly enjoy them and the parents have the budget, the time and the patience, then all credit to them.

But for any expat parents stressing about their own children’s party, please stop. Take a deep breath. This is not about you. What would make your child happy?

Happy parents for a start…

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