Middle-class problems: Children's birthday parties


Click to follow

Bit vague that term "children", so let's focus: we're talking about that age when kids first become aware of the power of a fully operational BURFDAAY PAARRRRTTYYYY – about four or five years old, at a guess. Giant venue. Infinite cake. Present avalanche. Endless guests. Complete bankruptcy.

First job: lower expectations. No, you can't invite "school" to Euro Disney, and no, you cannot have a "big robot" as a gift.

Next, establish a venue nearby that's cheap, the birthday child approves of and has just got back its health-and-safety certificate after the inquiry. (Unless you want a party at home and the prospect of shouting "Wakey-wake, Amelia's mum!" over and over to the drunk asleep on your bed.)

Then, guest list: tricky. Do you invite the whole class? Or not? The former will be pricey and may go down as too show-offy by half. The latter – well, how important to you is your child's social life for the next 15 years? That important? Wow. Whatever you do, know this: something dies inside a parent every time they open a party invite on behalf of their offspring (even if it never turns out quite as gruesome as they fear). Once the guests have turned up and started knocking lumps out of each other at the softplay/ swimming pool/cinema, you're too busy dishing up crisps and sympathy to worry.

Finally, of course, the party bag. Don't Ever Engage in the moulded-plastic arms race that is the modern leaving gift – you will be crushed. A balloon, slice of cake and a hearty shove towards the exit will suffice. Party's over.