Well, birthday parties certainly aren’t what they used to be, are they? I don’t want to come over all “in my day”, but man, in my day, we were happy with some fairy bread and a round of pass the parcel. Throw in a glass of red cordial and I was asking to be adopted by the birthday child’s parents.
Today’s birthday parties are something else altogether. I have it on good authority that a party’s considered neither a celebration nor a must-attend event if it costs less than a grand. I’m serious! I’ve heard tales of $5,000 parties – complete with bars, and caterers, and dancing girls – for a fifth birthday. That’s more than my car’s worth!
There was a story in the news recently about a parent who INVOICED another parent after their kid failed to turn up to her kid’s birthday party without an explanation. This mum asked the other parent to pay for the cost of this child’s attendance at the party, or something, I can’t quite remember the details because my brain was about to explode with the insanity of the situation.
And then, just yesterday, I saw this crazy-ass gift “wish list” that some crazy-ass parents sent on behalf of their one-year-old daughter. And not a wish list of “whatever you can find on special in Big W on the way to the party”, either.
So anyway, my point is this: PARENTS! Stop with the whole crazy-ass birthday party thing. Use my essential guide to birthday parties if you need help:
1. Set the benchmark low. If you spend five grand on a first-birthday party, you’re going to have to spend 10 on the second birthday, and so on and so forth. Start at the bottom, and take heart in the knowledge that your kid won’t remember anything until they hit five, anyway. This is particularly pertinent with regards to the cake. Start with a Coles ice-cream cake and then just work up through the Women’s Weekly birthday cake book.
2. Forget lolly bags. Just forget them. Why are you thanking these children for coming to your home, eating your food, being sick on the carpet and leaving without a thank you? Why do they need more E numbers to take home with them? It’s insanity, and needs to be stopped.
3. Don’t get carried away. Children are simple creatures. They’re happy with a game of musical statues and a bowl of marshmallows. On this you have my word.
4. Don’t try and impress other parents. They’re happy to have someone else entertaining their child for two hours. That should be enough (it won’t be, but it should be).
5. Don’t accept siblings unless you receive prior notification, in writing. It drives me insane when uninvited brothers and sisters queue up for a slice of birthday cake. Go home! You’re not welcome here!
6. Never forget the RECIPROCAL BIRTHDAY INVITATION AGREEMENT. If your child is invited to another child’s birthday party, you must invite them back, even if they’re the class snail-stabber. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it works. (Mothers! I keep a list of those who don’t invite my kids back. Just so you know.) I mean yes, okay, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, just invite my kid, okay?
7. Re-gifting. It’s fine. We have a re-gifting shelf in our house. I would say one thing: make a note of who gave you the gifts on the re-gifting shelf. I mean, you wouldn’t want to give that Minecraft book back to the person who gave it to you in the first place, would you? (I’m talking from bitter, bitter experience here.)
8. RSVP. You think that’s obvious, don’t you. Well let me tell you: MOST PARENTS DON’T RSVP. It pisses me right off.
9. This one’s from my husband: If you’re encouraging parents to stay, provide booze. Not expensive booze, just something to soften the edges of awkward conversation. Goon is fine.
10. Forget fruit. Forget vegetables. Even fruit and vegetables chopped into cute and colourful shapes will not be eaten. On this day, and this day alone, embrace the E numbers. Give the children what they want, and they will thank you.