should you splurge on kids' par­ties? A de­bate

Gone are the days where a game of pass the par­cel was enough. Now par­ents are splash­ing out on ex­trav­a­gant cel­e­bra­tions

Essentials (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Christina Savvouri, 40, is a pho­tog­ra­pher. She lives with her seven- year- old daugh­ter, Is­abella. Dis­cov­er­ing I was preg­nant at 34 was a com­plete shock, but also a won­der­ful sur­prise. I had can­cer when I was four years old and had chemo­ther­apy on and off for years. Doc­tors warned it could affect my fer­til­ity, so I’d grown up think­ing I’d never be a mom. When Is­abella was born in 2012, it felt like some­thing to cel­e­brate. Over the years I’d watched as my friends set­tled down and had lav­ish wed­dings. I’d not had a big day, so I de­cided that Is­abella’s chris­ten­ing would be our chance to shine. I hired a venue and cater­ers for 200 peo­ple, and bought Is­abella and I pink dresses. It cost a for­tune but was worth every cent.

I wanted to make a big fuss over Is­abella’s first birth­day so

I put money aside each month from my job as a pho­tog­ra­pher.

I in­vited 60 adults, plus their kids, and de­signed in­vi­ta­tions. I filled my house with helium bal­loons, ban­ners and pho­tos of Is­abella, and had party bags made. It felt so good mak­ing my daugh­ter happy and cre­at­ing won­der­ful memories for her. I knew Is­abella wouldn’t re­mem­ber it all, but she’d have pho­tos to look back on.

As a sin­gle mom, cover­ing the cost wasn’t easy, but by her sec­ond birth­day I’d saved enough for an­other do – a Min­nie Mouse themed party. I hired a ma­gi­cian, jump­ing cas­tle, pho­tog­ra­pher and cater­ers. Every year since then, Is­abella has had an ex­trav­a­gant bash. For her sixth birth­day, I hired a ‘ Party Par­lour’ for 50 guests, which had a chocolate foun­tain, and this year I’m plan­ning two dos – one for the kids dur­ing the day and one with a DJ for the adults later on.

Is­abella now ex­pects a big birth­day party every year, but she doesn’t take it for granted. It’s al­ways on the con­di­tion that she be­haves her­self and does well at school. Some peo­ple say that I spoil my daugh­ter and I know I do, but you can’t put a price on memories that will last a life­time.

Claire Se­bastião, 34, is a dig­i­tal ed­i­tor and lives with her hus­band, Nic, and daugh­ter, Lily, six.

I've at­tended more than my fair share of kids’ par­ties and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that chil­dren will have fun no mat­ter how much ef­fort you go to (and the best par­ties have wine).

I've seen peo­ple spend crazy amounts of money on birthdays. Once, we at­tended a fourth birth­day party where the par­ents hired an ac­tual throne for their lit­tle dar­ling to sit on while her sub­jects/friends got to watch her open presents. At an­other, the party packs were filled with Lindt bears ( you bet­ter be­lieve I gave Lily the in­fe­rior treats and ate the Lindt loot with­out shar­ing!)

By con­trast, Lily’s first few birth­day par­ties have been low-key af­fairs – but they were all marked by the true sign of a suc­cess­ful kid’s party: cry­ing chil­dren when par­ents want to leave. As long as there’s enough food, a cake and space to run around, kids will have the time of their lives. Our house is pretty small, so we usu­ally have her party at a nearby park, which means there’s zero venue fee ( but it does make things a bit dicey, weather wise). I make a cake, out­source sand­wich mak­ing to my par­ents, and Lily and my mother-in-law dream up the dec­o­ra­tions.

Twice I've spent more than I wanted to on party nov­el­ties, and both times I re­gret­ted it. The first was when I bought a gi­ant he­li­um­filled foil T-Rex bal­loon for Lily’s fourth birth­day – the bal­loon floated off her wrist be­fore the party even be­gan and al­most ru­ined her day.

Every time some­one gave her a present, she said, ' Thank you, my bal­loon is gone,' and started weep­ing.

Two years later, she still brings it up.

Dur­ing the sec­ond spend­ing in­ci­dent, I or­gan­ised pony rides. But all the kids were hav­ing so much fun do­ing what­ever it was they were do­ing, that no one ac­tu­ally went for a ride!

Lily still has memories that will last a life­time, but luck­ily they didn’t cost us that much to make.

'You can't put a price on memories that last a life­time' 'The best kids' par­ties have lots of wine for the par­ents'

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