Good Food Blog
Party time treadmillPosted at 4:29PM, 04 February 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
It's been a while since I gave a children's party, so when I helped out recently at a friend's birthday party for her seven year old, I was amazed how much children's parties have changed.
Kid's love simple, colourful foods, so I had in mind a few sandwiches, sausages on sticks, sausage rolls, iced fairy cakes, jelly and fruit squash perhaps and of course a brightly decorated birthday cake. for the birthday boy or girl. But that won't do at all! The food now has to be gourmet standard and take hours to prepare or is ordered from an upmarket (and pricey) professional caterer. Some parents even call in a professional party planner to organise the whole event.
Before you even think about the food there's the list of food allergies to contend with, provided by anxious parents. No 'e' numbers for little Milo; no dairy foods for Lola; Hugo only eats organic food; Aurelia is allergic to eggs; Oscar can't tolerate cow's milk... and every parent knows the cardinal rule that no nuts must ever be included in any party foods.
When did this start and who started it? I can remember when all we got to take home was a slice of birthday cake wrapped in a paper serviette
Then there's the handmade invitations, an entertainer, a professional photographer to record the lavish event for posterity -and the expensive take home party bags. Why a goodie bag for party guests to take home? When did this start and who started it? I can remember when all we got to take home was a slice of birthday cake wrapped in a paper serviette - which was invariably a sodden lump leaking lurid icing by the time we arrived home.
It is possible to throw a memorable party without breaking the bank! I can recall a time when children made their own fun playing party games such as musical chairs which cost nothing. The most successful birthday party I gave for my son was home made hamburgers and chips served in greaseproof cones with lots of relishes and sauces on the side. After he'd blown out the candles on his birthday cake, I took them all to the local park to let off steam and enjoy a treasure hunt. The kids had lots of fun and it wasn't expensive.
Isn't it time to stop all the extravagant expense and over indulging children, especially in these belt tightening times - or have children come to expect over the top expenditure? Today's children are certainly more sophisticated and seem to expect a lot more, but I wonde, are the parties really for the children - or are they just another chance for competitive parents to show off?