Kids' birthday parties have got out of control! Every weekend seems to be spent ferrying one of our kids to a party in some kind of exotic location with an outlandish theme!! They are becoming more and more competitive and the whole thing is madness!
I would estimate that every party we have been to in the last six weeks (a ridiculous five!!!!) has cost close to £500. Seriously. It now seems to be a competition amongst the parents to throw the most expensive party they can and the children are no more than 7 years old! Gone are the days of a few friends in the back room of a pub or a little village hall playing musical bumps, eating crisps and then taking home some cake wrapped up in a napkin!
It is no wonder that some parents are instead opting to just invite a few of their child's closest friends to a birthday bash rather than the whole class. It is just unaffordable! However, that throws up its own problems. A school in Bath last month banned parents from bringing in birthday invitations unless the whole class was invited. I completely get this and applaud the stance as there is nothing worse than having to explain to your child that they haven't been invited to 'Edward's' party! Heartbreaking (although a very important life lesson too). However, having to have the whole class along can make the cost spiral out of control! Or does it?
We threw a party for Monti's 5th birthday for 20 of his friends and it cost no more than £50!! See, it is possible! We did the invites ourselves on the computer (with his chosen spy theme!) and then did a full on Mission Impossible treasure hunt in the garden (yes, in the rain - the kids loved it, the parents less so!). We put a load of burgers and sausages on the barbecue and it worked out loads cheaper (and easier) than making sandwiches and snacks. I did all of my supermarket shopping online so I got the best bargains - you can read my 1 minute guide to supermarket shopping to find out more........
We then just did bubble guns and sweets from the pound shop, instead of party bags full of plastic and overpriced nonsense, which was easy to organise too. What other savvy mums are doing is a joint party with several other kids so the cost is split three ways - even better!
We held races, ran around the garden, hid under waterproof sheets tied between trees and generally had a ball. Surely that's what these parties should all be about - fun! Although it can be exciting going on a boat (yep, that's really happened to our 7 year old) or getting to drive a go-kart for a day, a bit of imagination and you can still host an amazing party to be proud of.
What all of this ridiculous competition is making me ask is, who are these parties really for, especially when the kids are so young? Are they for the kids or the parents themselves? And if you set the bar so high early on, where the hell is there left to go when they get older. Will you be expected to spend tens of thousands of pounds for their 18th, just so that you can better anything you've done before? Seriously, it is time the parents grow up, take things back to basics and remember who these parties are really for!