Birthday Party Hoopla!

Have you watched Extreme Kids Parties on Discovery TLC channel? I have. I’ve watched it in utter disgust at the over the top ways parents over indulge their child’s every whim and fantasy, taking it to extreme and vulgar levels.

This past weekend, Ava was invited to the birthday party of one of the little boys from her school. I was apprehensive about attending as I was attending without Walter and I’m rather uncomfortable in unfamiliar social settings but for Ava’s sake I knew I had to just suck it up and go. The party was held at the club house of one of Jo’burgs more exclusive private estates and I was already feeling anxious by my preconceived notion of the onslaught of competitive mommies that I was sure was bound to follow.

We arrived on time and what transpired over the next two hours has totally changed my notions of what is a great child’s party. For two hours, my child ran, screaming like a banshee, in her bathing costume, sliding along a slippy slide! In between having her feet knocked out from under her and getting kicked in the face and head a few times, she stopped only long enough to shovel a few handful’s of crisps into her mouth or to take a couple of bites on a cup cake. The child’s birthday party was exactly that, a party for children. And I can quite confidently say that every child at that party was having the very best time. I’m quite sure that every child at that party will remember the fun they had sliding down the slippy slide and sploshing into the pool of bubbles at the other end. They’ll laugh about how the balls got thrown at their heads, how they fell head first down the slide, they’ll squeal with excitement over who sprayed who with water in the face from the hose.

This party will go down in Ava’s books as the best party she has ever been invited to so far! Neither she, nor her friends will care that there wasn’t designer cup cakes or a birthday cake fit for a wedding or party packs with personalized labels or party favours, that cost a fortune and break about 5 minutes after being removed from their party pack! What they will remember and what she is still talking about, 2 days on, is how much fun the party was.

And that’s when it dawned on me……. that’s what a kids party SHOULD be all about!

Kids don’t care whether the cake was home made, bought at the local Pick ‘n Pay or made by one of Jo’burgs most prestigious bakers. They don’t care how pretty the party table looks, they care that there are fizzes, lollipops and chips to eat on that table. They don’t care how much the party cost, they don’t care if the party pack has a special personalized label, hell, apparently they don’t even care if the balloons are helium filled or regular, run of the mill, huffed and puffed and blown with mom and dad’s smelly morning breath!

This really got me thinking about Ava’s previous two birthday parties. Her first party cost me a small fortune, people fund wedding receptions on less. Granted it was a beautiful party, with lots of attention and care given to the small details BUT that party was about me, not about Ava. Her second party was more low key but was still a lot more to do with me.

I know this may sound ridiculous, but I have already started thinking about her 3rd birthday party, granted, it is still 10 months away, but you can never be too prepared right?

Well, after this past weekend, I’ve had a good long rethink about my plans. This years party will be different to the previous years. This years party is going to be all about Ava and her friends and fun fun fun!

I’m thinking a pool party, with boerie rolls on the braai, beach balls, slip & slide and an ice cream cake! And I bet it will be a party she remembers!

P.S. Don’t forget to comment and stand a chance of winning one of the cool Moshi Monster give aways!


  • Melinda

    March 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I 100% agree with you Sharon….my only “self” indulgence at Jadas party will be that I insist on baking the cake and I will every year until she tells me to stop. Slip & slide rules..

  • TJ

    March 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Sharon, I think we all grow and learn each year with each passing party! Xavier’s parties are likely to have slippy slides for a long time to come because the kids DO love it so much! Your pool party sounds great! I’m sure she will love it!

    There is no greater appreciation than seeing the smile on your child’s face and hearing the laughs!

    Enjoy the planning! I’m also in the full swing of planning parties!

  • Gwen

    March 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I think the first birthday, at least is for the parents more than the child. Most children don’t really “get” birthdays at that age. For older children, I’ve attended some really competitive parties. People have marquees and caterers and entire petting zoos on their back lawns, full bars for the dozens of adults in attendance, Goodfellas to drive all said adults home again. I don’t want to get sucked into that and I don’t want Luke to grow up in an environment where that kind of competitiveness is normalised. Slippy slide and ice cream cake sounds fab, pity mine is a winter baby!

  • Paula

    March 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    The twins’ first birthday was definitely all about me/us and much less about them, it was really a celebration of that went before, and that we survived the first year! Their second was really just cake and fun, but this year, as I said we had a Clamber Club party and it was all about running, climbing and endless fun for the littlies! And the parents had just as much fun playing along! It didn’t cost a fortune and all I got extra was the R280 ice cream cake! Magic!

    That said, as D grew up it has become more challenging as the girls are more difficult to entertain. Last year a face painter did the trick: all the girls came dressed up as princesses ect and had their faces painted. Magic again!

    I really do believe that simple is better!

  • Pandora

    March 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I totally agree, i was a bit scared of the competativeness, and have kept it quite toned down for all 3 parties so far. The first birthday was at home with just family and friends, a brunch after her dedication at church, and some cupcakes.
    From the second one, I decided I just prefer not to have them at home, so I don’t have to clean up! But I noticed early on that the kids were hardly ever interested in sitting at the prettily arranged tables, or eating the fancy food, rather going for the chips, juice and chocolate. So this year I booked a venue that had 2 rows of those little rides that I normally try to avoid at shopping centres, and a pile of R2 coins, and the kids had a ball. I just put out bowls of chips etc. No fuss no bother. It was great. So less is definately more!
    By the by, the people who had booked the venue after us for a first birthday were going waaaay OTT!

  • Julia

    March 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Love this post. Totally agree that less is more and that kids really just want to have fun and hardly notice the trimmings. You are so lucky that her birthday is in summer. Both my kids have birthdays in Winter which complicates things somewhat. But, we make it work for us. And for THEM.

  • Lena

    March 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Ty’s most memorable party involved 5 wee 3yr olds running around in togs with water pistols a dad to refill them at the pool side and lots of finger foods, sun and noise. IT was the most relaxing and enjoyable party for the adults too. Enjoy Ava’s next party 😀 Nothing like an adult with the supersoaker running rampant to get the kids going.

  • Hanneke C

    March 14, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I agree! For one of my girls birthday party, one of the invited girls was egg and dairy free and had other allergies. I had to re-think food etc. The rest of the girls didn’t even realise that all the food was free of those ingredients and the carrot sticks and plain home-popped corn was a favourite! A lot of the treat food was left! I know also my girls can’t get enough of pass the parcel and the chocolate game. It’s not about the money (which is a huge factor for us) but about the memories you create!

  • panjels

    March 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

    “I’m thinking a pool party, with boerie rolls on the braai, beach balls, slip & slide and an ice cream cake!”

    Sounds like the exact things that the best (South African) childhood memories are made from! Thats my kind of party (says the kid inside me)! Look forward to hearing about it………. 10 months time 🙂

  • St. Elsewhere

    March 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Those over the top parties, are an ego massage for the parents…and when kids start expecting them as a routine, it sure means the kid is now winded with the parents’ ego.

    I am glad it gave you a chance to introspect – this fantastic party that Ava attended, and I am sure all of Ava’s parties will be phenomenal.

    You and W are thoughtful parents – which counts, a lot.

  • alovebeyondmeasure

    March 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I’ve also seen that show, but only once …it irritated me too much. Sounds like it will be a great 3rd birthday party.

    I have been debating Jayden’s first birthday party and I have also decided that it is more about us than him. So I am toying with the idea of having something that is more of a celebration of him for adults, than a kids birthday party that he won’t remember. BUT I am still deciding.

  • Cat@jugglingactoflife

    March 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    So, so true! One year we had the Princess’ party at a little mini town place called Rocky Ridge estate. I swear they drank juice and dis not even look at the party packs.The parents ate the very prett Hello Kitty home made cake. The kids just played and played.

  • To Love Bella

    March 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I think that first birthday parties are always an exception! We always want to make that one extra special! Generally speaking, of course!
    Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the meticulous planning and every attention to detail – it’s the Virgo in me I guess; and the fact that I am living out a fantasy job.
    I will also NOT be spending as much on Isabella’s party this year as I have before – and again, her invitations and party decor will be handmade by me (with the added help of mom). I’ve decided to forego balloons because we ended up with foil helium ones floating on our loung ceiling for WEEKS!!! They are just a waste of time, money and space. I will not be using the services of a party planner again either – this last one disappointed me terribly. I’ll just be hiring the chairs. Food too, will be limited.
    I think we learn lessons from all this.
    Sadly, I cannot throw Isabella a party with pools and such, as her birthday is in July. As she gets older, we will look into going to indoor party places.

  • Shayne

    March 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I have a 14 year old and a 6 yr old. I have learn’t a lot in 14 years. Ice cream cones, popcorn, hot dogs, juice, slippy slides (even for teenagers), jumping castles and adventures is what parties are all about. Not the fancy party packs, elaborate cakes (even though i’m in the business of cakes) & cupcakes and perfectly matching decor.

    the kids simply don’t give a damn.

    they want to have fun 🙂


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