First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 9th September 2014
Next month it will be my youngest daughter’s birthday. Which means that I must answer the question she has been asking since approximately 2 seconds after the end of her last birthday party: “Where is my next party?”
When my girls were younger I made the naïve mistake of believing that their parties should follow a traditional format at home. Rounds and rounds of Pass the Parcel, a tea party spread, home-made cakes. More fool me.
These days, due to political correctness, it transpires that each layer of paper needs a present in it. EACH LAYER! For the cost of one game of Pass the Parcel I could buy a Macbook Air. It also requires my husband to be in charge of the CD player, and to ensure that he has stopped it so that each child unwraps a layer, and has a gift inside it. Even for the most eagle-eyed of parents, this is a minefield.
Since then I have recovered my senses and hold all parties as far away from my own home as possible. My girls have enjoyed parties at Artypotz in Castle Road, and also Make in Albert Road. This tends to keep them all occupied and means they take home whatever they have made. Which leads me to the dreaded PB.
PB could refer to the fear that lurks at the back of all parental minds as they cater for the party food; namely that the single molecule of peanut butter that exists on your kitchen work surface will find its way into the one ham sandwich that the one child who suffers a nut allergy will pick up and consume. However, as you may have guessed, I am referring instead to Party Bags.
It is not enough to have spent your children’s university savings on one puny party; you also have to think of and pay for something that each child can take home. Generally this will be: plastic tat, a serviette, and a flattened piece of cake that has been decorated with icing so lurid it suggests a kitchen that was built using nuclear waste in the fallout from Chernobyl.
You can also march your own kids into a party and be confronted with grown adults (usually women) dressed as Disney princesses. Which goes to show it’s not just party games that have changed since my day, it seems Saturday jobs have too. What happened to a paper round?