This past summer, we planned a party for our daughter’s sixth birthday. We booked a venue that allowed the kids to create, name and take a bear home. Unfortunately, about a week prior to the date, I was told that they were closing their doors. What to do with 16 six year olds looking forward to stuffing bears? We ultimately chose to rent a room in the Thornhill Community Centre and to hire an entertainer with percussion instruments for the kids to try out. However, we also decided to offer some old fashioned party games to keep the children entertained. Thank goodness for my 14 year old wanna be kindergarten teacher who assisted in organizing the kids. We had wrapped a small toy in at least 30 layers of wrapping paper and the kids delighted in sitting in a circle, passing the parcel from one to the other, cautiously anticipating the music’s abrupt end – a signal to the person holding the parcel to unwrap one layer. Eventually the winner yelped in delight to reveal Sponge Bob bubble bath. Next, we organized two rows of chairs, 8 in each and back to back in preparation for musical chairs. It’s a game that I always enjoyed in the back garden of our home at birthday parties when I was growing up. Again, the children were thrilled by it. They howled with laughter when someone landed on another’s lap, were disappointed when left standing. They were thoroughly engaged in an oldie but goodie game. Parents told me that their kids talked more about the fun they had playing these old fashioned games than they did about the hired entertainment. As parents, we often overlook the simple pleasure children have in playing these kinds of interactive games rather than being entertained. It does take a little more work in planning and implementing, but it sure keeps expenses down and the kids seem to prefer it. Although we sometimes try to outdo ourselves or our neighbours, thinking that our children want bigger and better, we may be wrong. A back to basics party in your backyard or a rented room may be all you need to realize the pleasure in watching your children in childish play.