Happy £500 birthday, sweetie…


Made by Emily, 13.


A subject that crops up from time to time in the news, because it makes us all go “WHAT?? No! Never!” (which newsy people like us to do) is children’s birthday parties .

Oh yes, THAT old chestnut. I told you it crops up a lot.

This week I took part in a fun discussion about this sweet, sticky, apparently bank-breaking subject on the lovely and ever-suportive BBC Radio London.

Here’s the clip: I come in at 48 minutes and it’s a very jolly one, so I think you’ll enjoy it.


In my personal opinion – and you may choose to ignore or disagree with it, of course – anyone who spends £500 on a child’s birthday party is completely barking bonkers. And for them, I have three words: ‘rod’ and ‘own back’.  (You need to insert the words ‘for your’ in here too, otherwise is it sounds like Rod is getting his own back. English is a bugger like that.)

But come on. Seriously. £500?? For a kid’s party?? With the bar raised that high, what are you going to do for their 15th? Take them all to Antigua? Hire the Albert Hall, and get them all there in a stretch limo, with Rhianna booked for the evening?  (Actually, a depressing number of parents do the stretch limo thing for their kids. I feel a bit ill just thinking about it.)

Lovely, clever, good parenty people, this has gone too far. There’s keeping up with the Jones’ and there being a monumental idiot, and setting your kids a truly hideous example to boot.

If they think that spending this amount of money on a party is OK they’ll have absolutely no idea how to budget, and will be coming home to beg for money the second they’re out of the door. They’ll also have no idea what silly, simple, cheap fun is. And I like silly, simple, cheap fun.

Give me a bottle of Blue Nun and I’ll show you…

Seriously though, there’s nowt wrong with getting a few friends round, eating jelly with chopsticks, consuming so much crap in one day that 50% of the guests vomit before the birthday cake arrives, and sending ’em all off home with a slice of cake wrapped in a soggy napkin, and a balloon.

All my birthday parties were like that when I was a kid, and I thought they kicked some serious birthday butt.

So I say it’s time to swim against the tide, wave goodbye to the £500 Jones’ and stop spending a month’s salary on goodie bags full of iPod Nanos. And if the kids kick up a stink it’s only because we’ve led them to expect so much.
Silly us.

Anyone for pass the parcel?

Oh well, Blue Nun it is then….cheers 🙂


8 thoughts on “Happy £500 birthday, sweetie…

  1. actingtheparty

    As a parent of three children, all with birthdays in March there is just no way I could afford those kind of extravagant parties. It can make invited children feel awful as well, kid’s know when their parents can’t afford to entertain like that, so should they accept or shouldn’t they? I also get sick of feeling that I ought to invite the entire class when my child doesn’t play with half of them.
    So if you can forgive the plug it is the reason I gave up my job three years ago to try to come up with a solution…. something cheaper, smaller numbers and a house that isn’t turned upside-down…. and yes, pass the parcel and possibly Blue Nun is involved!
    Thanks for the good post… off to read about lad’s mags now ; )

  2. Rachael (Tales from the Village)

    The most talked about party I’ve had was a proper birthday party for no1, when she was 9. Everyone else was doing quad biking parties, and mega expensive goodness knows what else parties, and I threw her a jelly and ice cream, pin the tail on the donkey and blind man’s buff party. They loved it – they’re only children, after all, something we’re all guilty of forgetting. There’s a lot of parental wish-fulfilment (and willy-waggling) going on at these ever-more-expensive parties.

  3. sarsm

    I am shocked. Our eldest daughter will be 16 in June and wanted to go bowling with her friends. We have just informed her that we find a little over 200 Eur is too much for a birthday celebration.
    She accepted the decision without a moments hesitation and we have decided to do something interesting at home.

    I’m thinking of pinching the “eating jelly with chopsticks” idea.

  4. Mom-on-a-Wire (Alethea)

    I would rather spend money on my child for his birthday than try to keep up with the Jones’. It’s not worth turning it into a popularity contest as I simply cannot keep up with the Kensington/Chelsea Mummies.

  5. Catherine

    Yep. With you on this! I force my children into middle class child labour for weeks and weeks beforehand, making recycled crayons and colouring sheets, or bath bombs for their friends’ party bags, and party bunting out of old plastic bags (you get a little intoxicated on chemical fumes in this project too, which is nice.). Plus treasure hunts, biscuit decorating, even ideally decorating their own pizzas for the tea, plus the usual musical bump/statues, whatever.

    And call me crazy, but I’m thinking of eschewing pass the parcel this year! *horrifiedgasps*

    x x x


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