Smart Serving Suggestion: If you're running behind schedule, you may say yourself some time on the ice-cream course by bypassing the children and rubbing the fudge sauce directly into the draperies.
THE OPENING OF THE GIFTS: The birthday child should open the gifts in the presence of the guests, and should graciously acknowledge each one by asking in a petulant voice if there are any more. You should of course keep careful track of who gave your child what ("Jason -- He-Man Road Ripper; Jennifer -- He- Man Road Ripper; Chris -- He-Man Road Ripper" etc.)
ENTERTAINMENT: In addition to having traditional party games such as "Let's See What Happens When You Put a He-Man Road Ripper in the Commode, " you may want to consider hiring professional entertainment. This will usually consist of a community college drama student who Really Loves Kids and who has started a business where he dresses up as a clown and shows up at your child's party with helium balloons and magic tricks and puppets. This will of course terrify most of the children to the point where they are scarred emotionally for life. Some of them will have to climb into your lap before they can even work up the courage to wet their pants.
SAYING GOODBYE: As the parents return, hand each one a child who is clutching a licensed-character bag containing an assortment of broken party favors, including at least one "paddle ball" game manufactured by a Third World nation company that, to spare children the trouble, has a policy of breaking the rubber band right at the factory. Do not concern yourself overmuch with whether the children and the parents match up in exactly the same way as when they arrived; if there are any errors, you can sort everything out at whatever random birthday party you all attend the following week.
(c) 1985, Dave Barry
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