Last year we did a skating party on the Public Session on the big ice. The kids had fun, but it was tough to round them up amid the crowd, we couldn't do anything special, and we noted that the kids separated themselves into skaters and nonskaters, which made things a little awkward.
This year, we have the small rink to ourselves. Dad and I discussed the lessons from last year, and so I have a plan to make this year more inclusive.
Hospitality: One Parent is in skates, on the ice with the guests. The Other Parent (or Friend to Whom You Owe Beer for the single parents out there) is in the lobby, greeting guests, tying skates, running down safety and ensuring everyone is comfortable. I was Lobby Parent last year, Dad was Skate Parent, so I'm assuming we'll switch roles this year. Bring extra gloves for kids who may need them.
Food: Kidfood. Pizza and Cake. Always a win. Don't cast pearls before swine, just give them what they want. Non-spillable drinks. Hand Snacks I'm avoiding, as I don't want food on the ice, and I don't want to be Food Police, watching for someone chewing while they skate.
Treats: No gum or hard candy until they're walking out the door. It's too easy for someone to be tempted to waltz onto the rink with a lollipop and suddenly we're doing the Heimlich instead of swizzles. Also, small candies get dropped on the floor, waiting to be picked up by a skate blade and then dragged on the ice. So, while I love candy, there won't be any for the duration of the party.
Favors: Again, nothing until they're walking out the door. At least nothing small and easily dropped or ferreted onto the ice. (Kid Party Favor Rules apply: NO WATER GUNS and NO WHISTLES.) For some On-Ice fun, I'm thinking of handing out ribbon batons to the girls, and I can make a second billowy cape for my other Boy. Who knows, I might get an impromptu Ice Capades. Small goodies can wait until it's time to go. Typically I buy the bag of Pinata Mix and distribute evenly into cheap bags tied with a pretty ribbon. No one's complained and it's half the price of prepackaged favors.
Contingency Plan: It's not a Kid's Party until someone cries, and since we're all courting disaster by skating in the first place, it's double the fun. The Rink has ice packs on hand, but I'll bring my first aid kit all the same. If any parent leaves, and they're welcome to do so, they need to leave me their phone number. I think everyone this year has skating experience to some degree, but last year we kept an eye on the first time skaters, helping them as they needed it.
Games: Since we have skaters and nonskaters in attendance, making sure everyone has fun is a challenge. This year we can actually have organized games. While I don't intend to take up the whole party with them, they are a good way to break the ice with kids who don't know each other very well.
Beanie Baby Relay: Just like a relay race, but instead of batons, the kids have to make it around the rink with a Beanie Baby on their heads. (Tip: for any racing game, outline the course with cones. Kids are smart, they will cut the middle unless it's marked.) Among the Skaters, I know who has terrible posture, so I can make this a fair fight.
Pairs Race: One goes forward, the other backward, and see which pair makes it around first! We can pair a skater and a nonskater for this game, evening out the odds.
Flag Tag: I don't like Tag Games on the ice since kids get carried away and end up checking each other. This isn't safe for the nonskaters, so let's change it up. Each kid gets a belt with a flag on each hip attached by velcro. When those two flags get taken, they're out. I can make Flag Belts pretty easily with scrap material I have now.
After some rounds of games, we will eat pizza, cut cake, and they can skate free until the end of the party.
The idea at any gathering is to keep everyone comfortable, safe, well-fed and feeling welcome. It can be a challenge when dealing with kids who have varying degrees of skill, but I think we can pull it off this year.
Stitch is still super bummed thinking there is no party, and it's so hard to not clue him in. I keep telling him to wait, sometimes Life surprises you. Sure as hell surprised me. His Zuca bag is on hold at the Skate Shop. I know it's dumb but he's going to be so happy.