My favourite of my dad's jokes - and there's a lot of them - goes like this.
"Children? Love them. But I couldn't eat a whole one".
It manages to reduce everything I feel about my nieces and small cousins down to just ten words: effortlessly adorable, but in no way exempt from being mocked (if only to temporarily negate the effect of long-term sleep deprivation they bring).
Last Christmas, my parents took my eldest niece to an under-fives festive party at the local working men's club. Armed with their largest dog - 'hilariously' be-antlered to look like Rudolph - they claimed it was the best event in their recent social calendar. Considering that collectively they attend the following classes: bell-ringing, choir practice and flower arranging; that's saying something. Quite what it says, however, I'll leave to you to opine.
It's been claimed that small children behave like tiny drunk adults. So, at their parties, it's important to dress accordingly. Here is a list of things you might need.
1 A waterproof jacket
For an indoor party, I hear you question? Have you ever seen the after-effects of what happens when a little tummy full of pink wafers and Irn Bru dances with vigour to Gangnam Style? No. No, you haven't and I pray you never do. For such eventualities, ensure your clothes are wipeable. With its gloriously utilitarian shape and fabric, Stutterheim's fisherman's style jacket is perfect for the occasion and is unisex to boot, meaning sharable spew-proof outerwear for all the family.
2 A hair tie
Toddlers: they're a strange bunch. Things come out of them with almost no warning. These are things you definitely do not want near you. Whether you have a little one who needs consoling when the pressure of holding court in a Wendy house gets too much, or simply enjoys clenching buffet food into your locks at any given moment, avoid matting by keeping hair tied out of harm's way. This metal pony tail holder holder ought to do the trick.
3 A large, roomy bag
For when the following conversation occurs:
Parent: Right, do you want to take Woody or Jessie to the party today?
Child: Woody! And Jessie!
Parent: No, you can only take one.
Child: No! We do not do that!
Parent: There's only space for one. So which is it to be?
*Meltdown occurs rendering leaving the house punctually a virtual impossibility*
Parent: Right-o. Woody and Jessie it is then.
4 A pair of good quality trainers
Think of an embarrassing occasion between one and five. Times it by a nursery pal's fancy dress birthday party. Multiply what you get with the birthday cake being brought out, and your little one running through the crowd like a tiny Usain Bolt dressed in a Batman onesie on a one-man mission to blow out their friend's candles. Add one for how many minor celebrities you've always admired randomly being in said crowd while you sprint through in your New Balances trying to catch your child. Enjoy your shame equation.
5 Stretchy jeans
Kids' parties involve a lot of movement. Having to jump up from the rowing position during a rendition of Oops Upside Your Head to dash to the other side of the room and split up a fight over who gets to pour the imaginary milk into teacups demands near-Olympiad flexibility. Go with a pair of Cheap Monday's Second Skin cropped jeans, which are high-rise to keep everything under wraps, and inexpensive enough that a burst pen (or nose) won't mean that when they go to denim heaven you'll need to have a teary funeral for them. There's only one kind of celebration happening here, and it certainly ain't for dead jeans.