Take today's extravaganza, the super mum in charge had organised a carnival of imaginative games, a treasure hunt across the fields, complete with antiqued map, real digging for the bounty at the end, bats and cobwebs hanging from the trees along the way and a 'ghost' clad in a sheet studded with sweets, to chase. Not to mention a hand-baked cake, in the shape of a stately pirate galleon, complete with sparklers in the cannons and plaited licorice ropes, sailing on a blue iced ocean to a treasure island, which when cut into by the birthday boy spilled out golden chocolate coins. No pressure then on any mum who dares to follow that jamboree.
Another mum whispered to me that she was glad her party had been the day before, as there's no way she'd have been able to compete. I was glad mine had been months ago, so my poor showing was long forgotten. All I did was hire a hall, entertainer and whip up some sandwiches, which back in my day constituted a pretty good party.
Not to mention the change in the party games - today every child got a sweet each time they participated in a game. The frazzled alpha mum ran around making sure no one got left out - not even the uninvited siblings (blush). I have enough birthday parties under my belt to remember the days when only the winner got a prize, and every layer of pass the parcel wasn't studded with a goodie, forcing the need for precision timing of the music, so no one is left out, or treated twice.
But no matter how hard we all try to titillate our tiny ones, they are a jaded bunch. When it was discovered that today's treasure was simply more gold chocolate coins some of the older children scoffed scornfully that it wasn't 'real' treasure. What were they expecting? The Koh-I-Noor diamond?
This year I am tempted to fall back on the excuse that with four kids I can afford neither the time nor the money to create a super party like today's. Instead I am thinking of investing in a fabulous new product I saw being pushed on kids' TV today. The Wii It's my Birthday game. Interactive party games with no mess, no prizes and no effort. That way everyone really is a winner - especially mummy.