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Children's Birthday Parties. Are They Much Too Expensive Now?

Updated on March 30, 2018
GALAXY 59 profile image

Galaxy has worked in commercial catering for over 30 years and is a committed vegetarian. She is also a qualified nutritionist.

Expensive and Competitive Childrens Parties.

I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks this but it seems to me that these days children's birthday parties seem to have become some sort of a huge competition, more about who can afford the most money to provide an expensive party.

Children's goodie bags no longer contain simply a balloon and a piece of cut birthday cake wrapped in a soggy paper towel. Last weekend my niece came to our house straight from a friends party. Inside her designer goodie bag, she had an individual cupcake in a gold foil box, a really nice handmade glass ring, four mini bars of Green and Blacks finest chocolate, two wooden bracelets, a hair band, a silver coloured cover for her I pod and a pale pink lip gloss.

She was also in possession of a helium balloon in the shape of a pony that was almost as big as she was. She’s eight years old. I was amazed, but she didn’t seem to think it was a particularly impressive example of a goodie bag at all! She informed me that the week before she attended a party that was much better and had a much bigger goodie bag.

Parties Were Fun When I was a Child.

When I was a child birthday parties were fun. Invitations were homemade or just word of mouth. Party food included jelly, jam sandwiches, crisps, biscuits, fairy cakes and a bowl of sweets. If you were really lucky the mum of the birthday boy or girl had also gone to the trouble of making a cheese and pineapple hedgehog. (That’s a tin foil covered potato with cocktail sticks threaded with the food to you and me).

The birthday cake was, without fail, homemade and simple. Games included passing the parcel where the prize was a small bar of chocolate or a very cheap toy, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. Towards the end of the party, the mum and possible a grandma or an aunt went around the room with a bin bag and you helped pick up the rubbish, then you all sat down on the floor and played a quiet game to help wind down before you were picked up and went home.

You had a couple of party dresses a year and thought nothing of wearing the same one to several parties in a row. As long as it was clean and ironed it was fine. I miss those simple days and they were fun, not competitive, not expensive, not over the top in any way shape or form.

Jelly, Always one of my Favourite Party Foods.

Jelly on a plate
Jelly on a plate

Conspicuous Consumption.

These days some parents seem to look upon a child’s birthday party as an opportunity to show the other parents just how much money they have to throw away.

Planning the event becomes a military operation that can take weeks if not month to get just right. How silly.

Parents struggle to outdo each other as the parties become more and more elaborate, with professional entertainers and cakes that cost a small fortune.

Even very young children feel pressured to look amazing with expensive outfits and can never be seen in the same thing twice.

Throw a less than perfect party and it can spell social disaster not just for the parents but for the child too. Even arriving to pick your child up from the party seems to be an occasion that the parents have to dress up for.

I have turned up in the past wearing an old t-shirt and baggy joggers, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable doing that today. I wouldn't want to feel that I'm letting my child down in any way, it really does seem to be a catch 22 situation.

Unless you are brave enough to go against the herd.

Good old Fashioned Parties.

It’s ridiculous and in today’s world seems vaguely obscene to me. People are starving, not just in developing countries but in the western world as well. Homeless shelters are filled and beggars have become an all too common sight on our city streets.

Maybe we should think about holding a good old fashioned birthday party and call it a retro party. Have sixties style food, music and games and ask the guests to turn up in sixties type clothes, you can pick up hippie type things at charity shops or car boot sales or just use garish colours and a few strings of love beads. Who knows, it just might catch on. Of course, I’m not at all sure I’d want to be the first parent to give it a go if it was a disaster my child might never forgive me.

Thankfully, my own children are well past the birthday party stage so my bravery will never be put to the test. But let's hope that this trend for expensive, out of hand children's birthday parties ends soon.

© 2010 Galaxy Harvey


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