By MELISSA HUGZILLA
We need to talk about parties. Kid’s parties have jumped the shark.
I went to a birthday party for a five year old last weekend.
There were plastic bowls filled with corn chips and Allen’s Party Mix. The kids jumped on the trampoline and ate Cheezels off their fingers. There was a ramshackle game of musical chairs that had too many chairs and people waving their iPhones around because the host forgot the music. It took several rounds before any children were even eliminated, and they couldn’t hear the music over all the adult laughter anyway. It was a complete mess. At the end of the party there was a lop-sided homemade chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles on top.
There was no theme. Nothing matched. No-one cared.
Everyone was too busy having fun.
In this age of super-slick birthday parties it felt so exotic, yet so familiar at the same time. It felt like the long-lost parties I attended as a child, the ones where a bowl of chocolate freckles, a bottle of creaming soda, a plate of fairy bread and a sponge cake with sprinkles would elicit squeals of delight. The ones where we’d spend most of the time free-ranging in the backyard, high on sugar and running endless circles around the clothesline like hyperactive kelpies.
It was a refreshing reminder that children don’t need lavish parties to have a good time, and it made me wonder why this trend of stage-managing our kids’ birthdays has become so widespread?
I call them “Pinterest Parties”, those tastefully styled shindigs with mason drinking jars and lolly buffets and massive fondant-covered cakes that look more like rubber props than food. They have themed party games and children’s entertainers and everything is obsessively micro-managed down to the tiniest detail; from the custom bunting down to the washi-taped paddlepop sticks and the type of twine used to tie the party bags.
Kids’ parties seem to be turning into a unique form of self-inflicted torture, with anxious mums fussing over custom cake-toppers, turning mini crossaints into crabs and making rice bubble treats in multiple shades of pink ombre. After hours spent synthesising Elsa’s “Blue-Ice Candy” with a fastidious perfectionism not seen since Walter White cooked up his last batch of blue meth, you might find them manically tying twine around everything, high on food colouring and delirious with party-preparation fatigue.