Parent Party Strategies

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The fall brings a slew of holidays, from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanza. During the holiday season, you may be invited to many parties. The first decision is whether to find a sitter or take the little one with you.

Most parties welcome the kids, and many hosts encourage the little ones to come. Of course, you need to check with the host of the party first. If kids are OK, go, enjoy and welcome the wealth of smiles the baby (or toddler) will bring.

But baby scrooges have parties, too; get a babysitter for those parties where children aren’t allowed. You might want to leave them home at age 7 or 8, but wee ones are great party fun.

Holiday Party Games
At parties, a favorite game to play is Pass the Baby, but be aware she will be passed back when she stinks. Stand back and watch the fun as all your friends smile in delight as they coo at your star. Toddlers also bring out the best in most people, as they try to make them smile. Let’s face it, kids make most of us smile and can definitely liven up the party.Before you get to a party, decide with your partner which defense positions you are playing: one-on-one or zone defense?

In a one-on-one defense, each of you will be responsible for the kid at for a specific time. This duty can rotate as the evening progresses, but one of you will stay near the kid at all times. Agree on a set rotation schedule ahead of time. While you have kid duty, you are responsible for taking care of kid needs, like food and Mr. Stinky. A one-on-one defense allows one of you to mingle freely and get into deeper conversations.

You also can use a zone defense at parties. In a zone, you usually are both in the room, but the little one will be passed from guest to guest all over the room. You will be able to see the baby across the room and hear her cries. And if Mr. Stinky pays a visit, you can spring into action. Upon arriving, make a quick inspection for any potential child hazards. In the zone defense, it is important to strategically locate yourself. You need to be able to cover all of the easy escape routes. You also might need to be able to defend low bookcases that contain breakable objects.

For babies 6 months and younger, this usually is minimized, because the baby is handed off only between people. After your child gets mobile, inspections must get better and quicker. Your star already has broken every glass item she could reach at your house, but you will be invited to at least one holiday party thrown by a person who is a collector. Good luck! If they collect Hummel figurines, don’t go. Replacing what your star breaks could cost you a life savings.

One way to avoid child dangers is to host parties. If your house is built for socializing, this may be the way to go. Having parties at home gives you a home-field advantage. Just make sure the people you invite are bringing most of the food. You don’t need any extra duties with a little one in the house. Home-field advantage also allows you to put the baby to sleep in her bed and party longer.

Plan and Pack
You always can scout the locale of the party by asking friends first. If the hosts have little kids you probably are safe. That is almost like a first date in a coffee shop: It is a relatively safe bet.

Regardless of where the party is held, you need to pack a few essentials. A few small toys from home, a sippy cup and kid-friendly snacks are a must. A spare outfit also may be a wise move. If you know the hosts extremely well, you might want to pack some pajamas.

At almost all parties, you find a loving person willing to spoil your child; they absolutely love little ones. They hold, hug, feed babies and may even want to change a diaper. These usually are women, but don’t have to be. They generally are people who have never had a baby around or people whose kids are older and long for the smell of baby powder. This trusted person also may be stingy with the baby and not want to share. They can make the party easier for you.

In your circle of friends, you quickly discover the scrooges and the surrogate moms. Treat the surrogate moms like gold. You are doing them a favor by loaning them a child, and they are usually trustworthy. Watch them the first few times from a good zone position. Once they have earned your trust, you can let them go. My partner and I belong to a monthly supper club. We get together for potluck dinners and conversation. We have already scouted the people at these parties several times. They are trustworthy, and we can relax, as there are three loving surrogate moms.

Understand who the baby scrooges are, and don’t judge them harshly. They either have never had kids or let their own partner do all the work. This doesn’t make them a bad person. You even find scrooges who are married to a surrogate mom. If they have children, they were probably never let near the baby, so little ones make them uncomfortable. Scrooges usually are male, but don’t have to be. If your boss is a scrooge, you may want a baby sitter for the office party. But many scrooges don’t mind kids at all, as long as they are 10 feet away at all times.
If kids are welcome at a party, you might want to take them and share the joy they will bring. If you are going to party really hard, you definitely want to hire a sitter. Taking a little one also gives you the perfect reason to leave a party at the time of your choosing.
Have fun, be safe and enjoy the holidays.

Bobby Mercer is a teacher, writer, husband and dad to a wonderful 3-year-old girl. He is the author of “Quarterback Dad: A Play-by-Play Guide to Tackling Your New Baby” and lives with his family in Rutherfordton, NC. You can contact him at www.bobbym