Parties for big kids

Oh how I remember fondly the days of Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, when a ‘digger party’ with a pile of bark to dig in was all it took to create a magical and memorable party for our son and his wee friends. But as our son has grown and changed, so too must our celebrations. As your son grows, it’s just as important (perhaps more so) to take time to think and talk to them about what kind of celebration they would enjoy and what would best reflect the young man they are becoming. It’s a great opportunity to check in and see how well you know your son and what is important in his world plus it can be a fun project to work on together.

One thing that definitely changes, as boys grow older is the importance of the food at a party. When our son turned seven we noted a distinct change away from cute snacks and themed party food to substantial food like takeaway pizza, hot chips and ice cream (the more the better). Hotdogs, sushi, home made fish and chips or a favourite meal like nachos served in single serve containers might also fit the bill. We also found Ari didn’t want one of Josh’s famous handcrafted masterpiece cakes either. He just wanted the biggest ice cream cake we could find. So we embraced this and Josh enjoyed the early night instead of staying up putting finishing touches on one of his birthday cake extravaganzas.

Another change you might notice is the need for action, adventure, and more action and adventure. As boys grow older the need to let off steam, run around and be active increases. Assemble a group of seven, eight and nine year old boys (and girls) together and this need for action moves from ‘important’ to ‘critical’. Whether you have your party at home or somewhere else, it’s important that they have the opportunity to be physical and possibly even the opportunity to engage in some rough and tumble or an element of adventure.

At our son’s seventh birthday, this action took the form of a spy party where we had dinner at our place and then walked to the local rugby field in the dusk to play ‘storm the heights’ or ‘steal the flag’ (with Ari’s dad and uncles as the ‘bad’ spies). We played the last couple of rounds in the dark with torches, which was the favourite part of the night for many. We had a range of different boys and girls there but they all loved it and returned home feeling brave, triumphant and just a little tired. The night also featured some ‘thinking’ activities as part of the spy training, which gave different guests a chance to shine and also gave the guests a chance to settle (a little) after the initial excitement before we headed to the park.

As your boys grow older, it’s also a great idea to encourage them to think about significant people who they would like to share the celebration with as well as their friends. We encouraged our son to invite any adults who he looks up to and Ari choose my 30-year-old cousin, Shem, who he really admires. Ari was absolutely over the moon when he found out Shem was going to come and be part of the festivities. It really made his night having such a ‘cool’ adult at his party celebrating with him. So think outside the square when it comes to the guest list and see who your son truly would love to be there. Most of all enjoy engaging with your son and enjoy creating wonderful family memories that he can draw on as he approaches the pre-teen and teen years.