Tuesday, June 22

Whatever happened to....

The good old birthday tea party at your house on the day of your birthday with kids around, playing pass the parcel and musical statues?

Isabelle is going to be 5 on the 16th of July so in the back of my mind, I'm thinking I really need to get myself in gear and get somewhere booked for her party. Her birthday is on a Friday, but it looks like the party will have to be the followind day, the Saturday, which will be my birthday. I'd really rather not spend my birthday supervising 20 loud and boisterous 5 year olds, but it doesn't look like I have any other option. My birthday vanishes into insignificance since Isabelle was born, especially as we had to have an overnight stay in hospital due to my waters leaking for 4 days before she was born and the hospital wanting to keep an eye out for infection. I've not really had a birthday since :(

Even so... it seems now that there is such a huge 'our party was better than your party' thing going on. And it's not even the kids that's doing it. It's the parents. Each one has to be bigger, better, more fun, best party bag in the world ever.. etc.. and it really infuriates me. Surely it's all about the kids having fun celebrating a birthday. Or maybe I'm just old fashioned about it. My elder two kids had parties at home until they were old enough to have someone stay for a sleep over and then we'd go bowling or to the pictures with one or two friends, but nowhere near the scale they do parties these days.

The in thing this year is Whizz Kids, which is a huge indoor softplay centre. Great for the kids to run around and let off some steam. A meal and party bags are provided, but.. it costs £9.75 per child!! There are 30 kids in Isabelle's class, and because she's a popular kid, I'd guess at her wanting to invite 25 of them at least. (I'll save you the maths...) that comes to £243.75!! You have got to be kidding me? There's no way we can afford that. That's without buying her a birthday present.  Yet she really really REALLY wants to go to Whizz Kids. Even if I say 10 friends only that's still almost £100!!

My other option is to hire a room in the local leisure centre. But we did that last year. It's only £30 to hire the room with the bouncy castle, climbing frames, bikes etc all with crash mats. I'll have to provide the food, but she can have as many friends as she likes there. All 30 kids in her class if she wants. But she'd be disappointed that it's not Whizz Kids.

You can hear the mums talking in the playground.. oh I've hired a hall and a magician for my little one's  birthday next week. The magician only costs £95. Oh yes there's the room hire on top of that, then the food.. and I've got x, y and z for party bags. She was spending more on party bags for each child than I spent on the childs present. 

Why is it like this? Why do the parents compete so much to have the best party for their kids and then stand there bragging about how much they've spent. The kids don't care how much they've spent, and I'm sure we had just as much fun at house birthday parties, in the day where you didn't even get party bags to take home. Oh, and the latest one is, she wants a pinata full of sweets to hit. When did we become part of America?

All I want is for my soon to be 5 year old to have a lovely birthday with her friends and for her to feel special, but I don't want to have to spend a fortune that we can't afford to do that. We don't have a credit card purposely so that we're not tempted to put things like that onto it and end up paying for it for the rest of the year. If we've not got the cash, we dont get it. But how am I supposed to keep up with the Jones's so that Isabelle doesn't feel left out?


  1. Personally I think booking a hall and inviting her friends will make her happy. Sure initially maybe she'll be disappointed but come the day when she's chasing around with all her friends, bouncing about and generally being 5 she'll be over the moon. Not only that, when she's older she'll remember how fantastic it is to have a "traditional" birthday party. My friends went to various Wacky Warehouses and things for their parties when I was a kid, I always had bouncy castles and things at home, my parties were the best!

  2. I always make mine have 8 friends at the most round to tea and play Twister, Pass the Parcel and then get the teenagers male friend to read them all a story, they love it. Don't take any notice of what other children do or what other mothers say, big parties are not easy to enjoy for little people, too much noise.
    And of course, I'd give you a great quote on some fab party bags!

  3. themadhouse8:13 PM

    We did the at home thing for Maxi this year (he turned 5) and it was fine. Mini's birthday on Thursday and we are all going out for the day, no party, just family round for lunch on Sunday

  4. Julie9:41 AM

    Oh, I remember all this!! It's horrible, isn't it? The party bags were the thing I hated most. Paying out for a load of crap that no doubt got chucked away as soon as the kid went home! In the end I used to stick to putting mini bags of sweeties in the bags as at least I knew they wouldn't get wasted.
    I have two suggestions. One is give her a choice - 5 friends (say) at Whizz Kids or 30 friends in the hall or 10 kids round at the house for a traditional party. The other is to just go for the hall - I agree with PrincessL, she won't mind on the day.
    Once when one of mine was begging for the entire class to go to the Wacky Warehouse I said ok..but this year, the party will be your present. You will get some little things to open on the day but we cannot afford to buy you a big gift on top of a big party. It was amazing how quickly her mind was changed - the party suddenly wasn't THAT important to her!
    I refused to be guilted into the competing party syndrome - there are always some super-extravagant parents around but i guarantee there are others who feel just like you do!
    As for extras like the pinata, don't be afraid of saying no.