kids

'I've noticed a new trend in kids' birthday parties. And it bothers me.'

Five-year-olds’ birthday parties aren’t what they used to be.

I have noticed recently, from hanging out on Facebook, that when a mum says she’s having her son or daughter’s party at home, she’ll get lots of suggestions. These aren’t “pass the parcel” suggestions, or “pin the tail on the donkey” suggestions. These are names of professionals who will come in and run her child’s party for her.

There are entertainers who’ll dress as a favourite movie character. There are the ones who will twist balloons or do a magic show. Others will put on a disco or bring Lego or turn up with live animals. There are also party planners to run the entire event, from “concept” through to party bags.

I’m sure they do a great job, at a price.

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But I’ll tell you this. Five-year-olds don’t need professionally run parties. The three bare essentials of a kids’ party – other kids, games, loads of sugar – are enough to get them jumping up and down and squealing with joy. When you’re five, the lamest games are exciting. Musical statues! The drama, the tension, the incredible prizes!

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Cheap party decorations are exciting. Look, balloons! They float! They pop!

Just being at another kid’s house is exciting. You see their toys. You stare in wonder at their goldfish. Goldfish!

Oh, and a cake is exciting. Any cake. At the age of five, you couldn’t care less if it’s been bought for $10 from the local supermarket or a professional has spent three hours carefully crafting it. Get in my mouth!

Maybe my kids and their friends are terribly unsophisticated, but they love the kind of parties I had when I was a kid – the same games and everything.

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I remember the first time my son’s friends turned up to the house for his birthday. I had a moment of terror when I saw all their eyes on me. But they just wanted to know what the first game was so they could GET THIS PARTY STARTED.

This trend of hiring professionals for five-year-olds’ parties bothers me. If it becomes standard – within certain social groups, or in certain suburbs – then parents will feel they have to do it, to keep up. And I think parents are the ones who end up missing out.

Birthday parties should be one of the great things about being a parent. Okay, maybe not the bit where you’re trying to scrub the cake out of the carpet afterwards, but the party itself. This is you getting the chance to be the fun mum. Your party games? Good enough. Your decorations? Good enough. Your cake? Good enough. Five-year-olds are easily impressed.

Ten-year-olds? Well, maybe that’s a different story.

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