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Earlier this summer I visited Cedar Point, an amusement park in Sandusky Ohio, referred to as “Roller Coaster Nirvana.” I went with my cousins, who are single moms, and their incredibly fun kids. That was the day of the THE FUNNEL CAKE SHOCKER! Believe it or not, my cousin Julie (at 46) had never had a funnel cake. A tremendous debate ensued whether she was really related to us carb-lovin, dough eating, fair food junkies…and as to her now-questionable American heritage, since many of us believed it was downright UN-American to have never tried a funnel cake!

She was convinced to order one, so as not to be left out of our artery-shutting euphoria. (She’s a cardiac nurse by the way…we were all safe in her hands). The young man who waited on her, was smitten with her “funnel cake innocence” and decide to forego the “traditional:” a plain cake with only powdered sugar, and he proceeded to make it a deluxe with piles of soft ice cream (vanilla, chocolate and twist) then hot fudge, then strawberries, followed by a small mountain of whipped cream.

All for no EXTRA charge! He clearly felt bad that she had such a deprived upbringing. The other 12 of us looked on eagerly as she tasted her first bite. She had a big smile, and we were affirmed.

However, by the end of this “heart attack on a plate” which Julie shared with anyone who wanted a bite or two or ten, she stated woefully from the depths of her food coma: “maybe I should have just gotten the traditional.”

So how does this relates to party planning? Sometimes it is best to just keep it simple, and not pull out all the stops at your event. I am all for hiring multiple entertainers and keeping the fun going, but I have learned that if you are planning entertainment for children, less is usually more. Consider the ages, the attention spans, and how quickly they might move from one activity to the next. You may find that one game, one craft, one entertainer for the party will be enjoyed more than non-stop activity, food, music and stimulation. Keep your sugary sweets to a minimum, and offer cakes and candy only at the end of the party to avoid the sugary-high meltdowns.

Some ages, like 8-12 years old, just want to socialize with each other, so good music and fun finger foods will enable this interaction. These tweens will only talk over an entertainer anyway, and might even heckle your favorite magician or clown. Being a minimalist doesn’t make a party boring, but allows guests and hosts to come away with memories of each conversation, each special moment, each party service, rather than a bad case of indigestion accompanied by “why on earth did I do that ?????”

Double booked guests? What? What to do when your guests need to leave and ask you to cut the cake early (or hang the piñata….or pass out the goodie bags…etc. etc)

Ah, speaking of over stimulation. How many parties do you take your kids too each weekend day? Remember this one is YOUR party and you can control so little of what goes once the guests arrive. But, how you plan the events of the afternoon are in your control, so stick to your time frame and DON’T let them EAT cake before its time.

If a guest has to leave early, let them know you will drop off the goodie bag later in the week, along with a piece of cake (if there’s any left). The penalty for double booking is not that YOU move YOUR mountains, but that THEY understand that you have many guests and many tasks to attend to. Your guest of honor won’t notice if a guest or too has to leave early…but they will notice that the singing and the cake cutting are not supposed to be before lunch!

Are you thinking about Halloween? Martha Stewart has some great annual books on the subject, and this host of ours really took her decorating to the max last year.

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