Children's Parties — Keeping it Real
Author: Emily Toxward from Have a Laugh on Me
Every weekend my social media news feed is bursting with amazing images of lavishly themed children’s parties with epic birthday cakes and perfectly decorated tables. As I scroll by I can’t help but feel a mixture of envy, joy and wonder.
Don’t get me wrong, at times I’ve definitely gone all out celebrating the birthdays of my three children. For example, for my firstborn’s 1st birthday I spent about a week recreating the epic merry-go-round from the Australian Women’s Weekly birthday cake book.
"Maybe we’ve gone a little too far and have forgotten that children’s birthday parties aren’t a competition but instead a celebration."
Do you think my girl remembers how I painstakingly painted the wooden horses exactly to the picture and used tweezers to lovingly place the 50 cachous on the carousel? No way. Did this stop me from making similar grand creations for my other two babies? Not a chance.
But I wonder if maybe we’ve gone a little too far and have forgotten that children’s birthday parties aren’t a competition but instead a celebration. Sure over the years I’ve gleaned party inspiration from Pinterest and to be honest spent a small fortune on decorations, balloons, party favours.
However, as my kids have grown I’ve started to realise the only pressure there is to create a Pinterest perfect party is coming from me. After all these years I think I’ve worried too much about pleasing the masses instead of keeping it simple yet effective. Most children certainly don’t notice if every napkin is perfectly folded and the designer tableware is colour coordinated with the balloons.
They certainly won’t notice if the pirate ship you stuck together with toothpicks and jam is a little wonky (true story) or that you couldn’t afford dozens of helium balloons to adorn the ceiling. What they’ll remember is how you make them feel on their special day.
As my little ones have aged I’ve actually become a little more blasé and talked myself into not worrying if the celebration for my child will be ‘liked’ by the masses or if my homemade cake will be heaped with praise. I don’t think I even posted pictures of the most recent party online!
Instead we’ve gone back to the good old days of parties that are more about the fun of the games and munching on treats rather than winning things or having the appearance of a perfect party. For example at my son’s 8th birthday party the kids played 5 games of musical chairs, using placemats, purely because they were having so much fun. And no one got a prize after the first game.
"What they’ll remember is how you
make them feel on their special day."
Next we played the chocolate game where there’s a block of chocolate and knife and fork and you have to roll a dice and get a six to put on some fancy dress clothes and eat the chocolate. I can still hear the giggles of those 8-year-olds; it was truly magic to my ears. His birthday cake was from a packet mix and I simply sourced an inexpensive edible Lamborghini topper from eBay – day made!
Financially it also makes sense to try and inject some old-school fun into modern parties, where the highlight of the day is watching kids bob for apples in a bucket of water or give us their best impression of their favourite animal or bird.
Teaching kids to use their imagination and taking the emphasis off ‘things’ has to be a good thing right? Maybe they’ll grow up not worrying about what they haven’t got and instead enjoy what they have.
Journalist Emily Toxward fumbles her way through parenting three children while juggling the demands of her writing business, Write Styling. A published writer for 20 years, Emily shoots from the hip when required and her blog, Have A Laugh On Me, is raw, honest and sometimes humorous.