Party season has arrived again in our household. My eldest has just had her 7th birthday and most of her class are spring and summer born babies so we now have an endless run. In her book bag today I found 3 thank you cards, some written by the child and some by the parents. What will I do with them? Look at who they are from and put them straight in the bin. To the mums who spent hours writing them or the poor children who have been made to sit for hours signing their name, I am sorry. Though I agree that it is right that children should be grateful for what they are given, when they go to so many parties is it really necessary that we get a thank you card from every one? I’m probably known as the ungrateful or disorganised mum because I don’t send them. At the weekend we visited friends and my daughter decided she wanted to write a thank you card for them, this one was written because she decided it was a thoughtful thing to do rather than because I had told her to do so – surely that means far more.
Women’s Hour today discussed children’s parties and most of the views expressed were either that they were a huge headache both financially and in terms of organisation, or that they were a thing that the parents relished organising. I have a friend in the latter category, who will throw a party at the drop of a hat, hand making everything to fit the theme including party clothes and food. A part of me would like to be like that but time and inclination hold me back. Besides which, I’m sure my children would be just as happy with a trip somewhere nice and a shop bought cake. We have tried various things from overcrowded parties in the house, hiring a big hall, not having a party but taking a few children to the theatre and this year an ice skating party. My 2 year old is yet to have a party as she doesn’t really have enough friends to justify one . Parties in the house are far too stressful for me, the combination of noise, overcrowding, mess and organising food is a nightmare. The big hall party was fine on the day (a joint party with 30 children) but organising what I was going to do with them, sorting food and all the things we needed to entertain them took a lot of time and energy. The last 2 were relatively easy. Ice skating with a group of 7 year olds was surprisingly stress free. The children had a lesson and then were given penguins to hold to help them balance if they needed them. There were plenty of adults around to help out so that even the 2 year olds had a turn. The food was prepared by the venue and all I needed to provide was the cake. Party bags included a free ticket to come back and ice skate – so much better than the usual tat (though some of that was still there).
Why do we feel the need to provide party bags at children’s parties? We all hate the little bits that come out of them that usually end up scattered around the house. Some people substitute the bags with presents but all children somehow expect to come home from a party with a present these days. When we were kids this was never contemplated, if we were lucky we came home with a prize from a game. Even pass the parcel now has a present in every layer – I remember the days when each layer had a forfeit rather than a prize. My children so don’t need anymore stuff. Call me a humbug, but I’m not going to do it anymore and hopefully lots of like minded mums will join in the boycott.