Mr.3 is turning four this weekend. His party isn’t until the following weekend, as it clashed with another 4th birthday party. For us, once we hit mid-June, we enter serious party season around here: invites to birthday parties are flying all around the place. I hardly have enough room on the pinboard to tack them all up, along with the bills. Seems Mr.3’s advanced social skills have seen him added to quite a few invite lists this year. (Very happy the kid has chatty, social nature; not happy am spending money I don’t have on countless birthday presents. Should be paying aforementioned bills.)
Anyhow, I have always been one of those mums who does everything for the party themselves. I make the cake – am only entering my fourth year of parenting, but have already spent many more than four nights re-making birthday cakes after failed attempts. We have the party at our house. We put up the decorations. We provide the entertainment (late nights also involve painstakingly wrapped pass-the-parcels). I do all the food myself, and all the cleaning before and after the event.
In other words, as I’m sure you’re aware, this spells complete exhaustion. But I don’t mind…much…because this is what a real mummy does, right?
Ha. Not this year for me. Mr.1’s party was at home in April – I baked some cupcakes, dug out some party hats from the back of the cupboard (second child, 1st birthday party, doesn’t remember, IUKWIM). But Mr.3’s party this year is being completely outsourced! And I have never felt more stress-free in my life! Oh yeah! I am not even baking the cake!
I will say now I cannot really afford the luxury of outsourcing a party. But this is not some fancy party with caterers and decorators and clowns and face painting and a marquee – it’s just being held at an indoor play centre. For his cake, Mr.3 wants a Cadbury freddo icecream cake (’cause they always have them at childcare when there’s a birthday) and I can’t sway him on it. Thus, no baking either.
Despite the whole thing not costing the earth, I still weighed up the options…even conducted little analyses in my head, of party cost vs. cleaning and prep time required, vs. personal stress level and impact on household…and decided I can’t be stuffed hosting this one. And I am so happy with my decision! (No mummy guilt, in case you’re wondering.)
I suppose what also assisted with my decision, is seeing some of the other parties we’ve been to lately. Pass me my glass of Moët dahhling…for these are serious, high-end, kids parties.
The most recent one involved hiring of a local hall – no biggie there I thought, until we walked in. The first thing that I noticed, was that everything – right down to the little red cupcake wrappers and cute red tin buckets holding Perriers on ice – was colour co-ordinated. It was a boy’s “construction” theme, and as we arrived, Mr.3 was given a yellow construction hat and a toolbox full of pretend tools (we got to keep the lot). There were huge handpainted trucks for playing in, giant soccer balls, blow-up hammers (got one of those too!). A huge, gorgeous red retro children’s table and chairs was set up for the kids, with (red) buckets full of little drinks, red tubs for popcorn and so on. There was a pinata in the shape of a concrete truck, which I was told was flown in from the US for the occasion, “because we didn’t really have much choice available, you know, here.” We also got lolly bags (ho-hum) to take home.
The parents didn’t miss out either – along with the Perrier there was wine, champagne and hor d’oeuvres. Professionally catered, of course.
I’ve also seen clowns, face painters…entertainers dressed up as fairies, pirates, stupid white bears. Stunning helium balloon displays…gorgeous cakes, truly works of art, that probably cost more than my wedding cake. These parties didn’t need old-fashioned games like pass-the-parcel.
Or did they?
Last year, a friend of mine was organising her two year old’s party, and casually mentioned she had to go get the champagne that afternoon.
“What champagne’s that?” I asked.
“Oh, you know…for the party.” Obvious embarrassment.
“You’re serving champers at Lily’s party? Why?”
“Well they all are…all my mother’s group. They’ve all had French champagne at their kids’ parties. I can’t really not have it, can I, even though I don’t think we really need to have it. Yeah I know…but….”
I went to that party, and there were about eight women standing around swilling Piper Heidsieck champagne while the kids went mental.
And while I am all for a little drinky or two with my GFs (ALL FOR IT), I reckon those little kids could’ve benefited from a simple game or two.
Oh, say, like pass-the-parcel perhaps.