I’m just throwing it out there. Children’s birthday parties are stressful. Pre-child in my oblivious haze it was one of the aspects of parenthood that I’d imagined I would thoroughly enjoy. My fantasies stretched to colour co-ordinated table ware and decorations. There would be a theme and organised games. The children would play in perfect harmony while the mothers sipped on tea and nibbled on crust free sandwiches. My pre-child day dreams are a great source of amusement to me now. It’s nothing like I’ve described.
The table ware that I dreamed of is expensive and it’s all disposable. The table cloths don’t cover the tables at your chosen venue so you need 15 of them. I think they cover them in some sort of varnish to take the cheap look off them and this means they don’t stay on the table. 6 year old Billy will go through cups like he’s going to get a medal at the end. Calm down Billy I need some of them for the next party.
In my day you got a rice crispie bun and got thrown out the back to play. Now the kids want a four course meal. I don’t know when this craic of hot food becoming a staple started but it needs to stop. I do sweets and treats but your mother can feed you darling.
Then there’s the awkward hand over of the child. If you don’t drop or collect your kids you might not know any of the parents or children. You are literally responsible for a heap of children who you may never have even laid eyes on before. If little Josie hurts herself you don’t know the etiquette. Am I allowed pick her up should I call an ambulance? It’s a minefield. It’ll come to the stage where we will need Garda Vetting to host our own parties.
Presents are something I feel strongly about. Your child may get invited to 15 birthday parties a year. From listening to other parents this is very plausible. Mine aren’t that popular thank god! By the time you get a present and card and wrap it I’m putting a conservative cost of €15 per party. That comes in at €225 a year on birthday presents for children you hardly even know. I think that’s silly carry on. If all parents made a pact to put €5 in a card we would be doing each other a favour.
I am organising my middle son’s birthday party next week and I’ve put a note in suggesting the €5 would be more than sufficient. I know some people will think it’s cheeky but I’m hoping others will be relieved that they don’t have to second guess the interests of a child they don’t know and that they’ll have a few more pennies in their pockets at the end of the week.
I’ve always done my own thing and my parties are no different. I don’t invite the whole class, I don’t do hot food and I don’t do party bags. This is the only way I know how. I have no desire to keep up with what others do because I simply can’t afford it and I’m not going to put myself into debt for appearances. When you are in the middle of it all and your child is the colour of a tomato after his 16th run through the bouncy castle all the stress melts away. At the end of the day all a child needs is space and friends to have a good time. Oh and a piñata apparently. (*Sigh)