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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

#23 On Children's Birthday Parties

So wouldn’t you know it, November the fifth is rolling around soon which can only mean one thing. Correct: it’ll be the day before my son’s third birthday party.

Significant why? Well because we’ll be frantically preparing for it unlike most of his peers’ birthdays - many of which are happening most weekends at the moment - which will have been prepared, in advance, for more like 24 weeks than 24 hours. Yes, this is Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs (think London’s Chelsea or NY’s Greenwich Village) and so like it or not, just like at Christmas that weight of expectation falls on your reluctant shoulders to produce the perfect party in keeping with all the others you’ve been to/ heard whispered legends of.

Let me give you a brief outline of how our efforts will compare to those of the local norm. Incidentally Daughter is still not one year old and so has not yet warranted a party; this post might double up as a ‘what to expect’ document that I can show her before she starts getting any ideas:

Local Birthday Parties
Our Children’s Parties
Adult-centred. Many of our friends over here indeed have kids, but many don’t and once you’re a parent you need as many excuses to see people as you can get
A start time of 10am; finishing at 12.
What?? OK, I get it- it fits with kids’ sleep times, you do two hours then you get to kick everyone out and go and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

i) Our childless friends are very unlikely to be anywhere for 10am on a weekend, unless they are still out

ii) We are tramps and cannot break the ‘party= boozing’ truism, yet even we have (mostly) gone beyond the days of morning boozing, so an afternoon party it is

iii) Children - especially those fizzing on E-numbers - are much less annoying when you are tipsy

Elaborate spread, often outsourced from pricey caterers
Much as I like attending these parties as I love a posh nibble, old trampy habits die hard and once again our money tends to be prioritised for booze.

Other than that, something easily barbecueable is provided.

Veggie? Kosher? Help yourself to either the burger buns or some Aldi crisps. I don’t think even the ‘meat’ flavours have ever even flirted with genuine meat, so that’s all good.

...Which may include high-end sweet things

Aldi’s finest jelly sweets and packets of teddy biscuits, I’m afraid. I’m sorry if your children end up twitching a little.

Adhering to a theme with matching activities, bunting, tablecloths and more besides
Adhering to theme of ‘weekend’. If there is a children’s theme it’s something like ‘Wacky Races’, i.e. ‘get your kid to bring their bike and someone less-unsober may vaguely supervise them.’ No really: this is what last year entailed.

-Bunting, etc, originally sourced from Hot Dollar, cobbled together from previous parties. If it remotely matches I feel most proud.

...And also matching invites, which may have been hand-crafted, hand-written and posted weeks before

A sketchy Facebook invite with what I consider to be a zany picture of my son as the masthead.
Showcase a beautiful themed cake, often professionally outsourced
This is the one concerted bit of effort I do make, as I enjoy doing this. But don’t confuse this with being that good at it. For me, fondant icing is just grownups’ play-doh. And even if the cake looks passable from 2 metres away, step closer to feast your eyes upon:
  • The cheapo battenberg I have used for the inside
  • The piped icing used to conceal a multitude of amateur errors
Hired entertainer

Tired entertainer, often in the form of my dear brother, half-cut, dragging around chuckling toddlers that have their hands clasped about his ankles.
Otherwise see ‘bring your own bike’ point above
Face painting
Does food colouring from eating the cake count?
Or..battle scars from a felt-tip fight
And finally...goody bags containing themed goodies.
Are you serious?? There is some definite input-output inbalance going on with preparing these things. Consider your memories, your ensuing hangover and a day where your kids have hopefully entertained themselves a bit, your goody bag.

If, after reading this, you are still keen to join us on 6th November, then you are a true friend indeed and welcome to enjoy with us some craft beer (sourced by Husband) or cheap prosecco (sourced, yes, by me).

Oh yeah, and hopefully your kid, if you have one, will enjoy it.

See you there.


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Twitter:  @ericajbarlow
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