Miss Debrett on... Children's Parties
The children's party is all too often the
arena in which parental competition
reaches its apotheosis, a red-blooded
battle to outdo and trump each other,
which can often turn very nasty. As,
at successive birthdays, parents up
the ante - spending more, finding
every more exotic locations,
stuffing party bags with
expensive goodies - a
spiral of competitive
party-giving begins, which
may have very little to do
with the children's own wishes.
The obvious fact is that the parties are intended for the children and should, first and foremost, give them pleasure. Children are often blissfully unaware of exclusivity, or what things cost (it's one of their more attractive traits) and it is therefore perfectly possible to organise a very modest, but hugely successful event.
It is vital that you disentangle your own ambitions, personal
likes and dislikes and competitiveness from the your understanding
of what is best for your child. Talk to your child and find out
what they want. They may, of course, make an eye-wateringly
expensive suggestion, such as taking the entire class to Legoland.
On the other hand, you may be very pleasantly surprised when they
suggest a trip to the adventure playground and a picnic.
Cultivate an independent-minded spirit of insouciance. Look at the antics of other parents with incomprehension and distaste - after all, competitive party-giving is irredeemably vulgar, an over-the-top attempt to purchase something (excitement, pleasure, conviviality) which most children freely generate whenever they are gathered together.
Make your parties a talking point. You can be a total cheapskate, but your creativity will entrance your guests. Find a wonderful location (a creepy ruin, an enchanted wood). Lay on a range of activities (face-painting, dressing up, bonfire-building, organised games, a treasure hunt). Feed the children well (sausages and potatoes toasted over a fire, home-made cake) and send them home happy.
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Disentangle your own ambitions, personal likes and dislikes and competitiveness from the your understanding of what is best for your child.
- Look at the antics of other parents with incomprehension and distaste - after all, competitive party-giving is irredeemably vulgar.
- Use your creativity, not your bank account, to make your party a talking point.