The politics of children’s parties

Birthday cake
Birthday cake
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This is a party political broadcast ...

It isn’t really, more a rant about the politics of children’s birthday parties.

Aasma Day

Aasma Day

Our twins turned 10 recently, prompting me to muse about birthday parties and how they have changed over the years.

Gone are the days of parties at home with jelly, cakes, ice cream and a gateaux from Iceland (or, if you grew up in my household, samosas, pakoras and Bombay mix, and then the Iceland cake).

Forget a sedate game of pass the parcel or pin the tail on the donkey. Children’s parties are now completely different with a level of upmanship guaranteed to send parents hurtling into bankruptcy.

To be fair, when ours were really young, there were a fair few parties at homes – and even the likes of pass the parcel and musical bumps.

But even then there was usually a highly paid children’s entertainer with a colourful jacket and booming voice who would happily mug parents for a couple of hundred quid

As for the food, things have moved on a bit since the bowls of Wotsits and a hedgehog of pineapple and cheese cubes.

Today’s darlings have far more sophisticated expectations and the canapes and nibbles often look like they’re straight off Masterchef.

As our son and daughter have got older, so birthday parties have evolved. We went through a spate of spending almost every weekend attending a birthday party at some soft play centre or other. One weekend, we had three – at the same soft play centre.

But then the children reach an age where soft play centres are deemed too babyish - and that’s when the whirlwind or fantastically varied parties begins.

We’ve had our children attend swimming parties, football parties, bowling parties, climbing parties and build your own teddy bear parties - all of which they’ve loved.

But with each passing year, parents experience the pressure to better what they did last year or keep up with other mums and dads and put on “the best party ever” with things such as skiing, paintballing and horse-riding parties setting the poor parents back as much as the cost of a wedding or holiday.

As for party politics, it’s a real minefield – I think next year it might be safer to hire a party planner.