Thursday, 7 June 2007

All Present and Correct

I went out today to buy some presents for yet another round of birthday parties that the kids will be attending in the next few weeks. I once added up how much I spent in a year on birthday presents for other people’s children. It is not an exercise I would recommend. I couldn’t stop myself from equating the cost with the number of cases of champagne that I could have bought instead – I was miserable for days.

Thankfully, my kids have now got to an age where birthdays no longer involve a party for the whole class. This means we now have the occasional weekend where H and I are not on permanent chauffeur duty, and our annual birthday present expenditure has dropped from ‘obscene’ to merely ‘uncomfortable.’

Unfortunately though, the birthday children are no longer at an age where they all want a day-glo pony with a tangled nylon tail, or a double-jointed superhero - regardless of how many they already own.

Despite the obvious practicality, giving money to the 7-10 age group seems to be frowned upon. Maybe there is a suspicion that feckless parents will fritter it all away on booze rather than invest in something ‘educational’ for their little darling – which is not a bad idea when you think about it. The only solution I can think of, that allows the children to choose something they actually want, is vouchers.

Now, I know my sons and their friends would prefer a voucher for the local video game shop, so they can continue to fry their brains with high definition graphics. My daughter and her friends would rather have a voucher for ‘Claire’s Accessories’ so they can deck themselves out with fluffy headbands, bracelets and body glitter. I would rather have Majestic Wine vouchers, for obvious reasons, or failing that, book tokens, but that’s because I am a forty-something mother of three (and I already have enough body glitter).

In the end, I was so fed up trying to decide, that I got several book tokens, and several vouchers from the other shops as well.

I’ve now got my feet up, enjoying the spicy cherry flavour of a glass of Tesco Finest Corbières Reserve (£4.99) and trying to match up each voucher with the appropriate child. It’s a bit like a card game, but with the added complication of having to consider which parents consider video games to be the work of Satan, and which would have their feminist principles offended if their daughter bought some sparkly hairslides.

Thankfully, there are always the book tokens, but I can’t help wondering if the recipients of these will just end up wanting to swap them for cash from their parents, and then blowing the lot on the Pic ‘n’ Mix sweetie section of Woolworth’s.

On that basis, I should have just bought Majestic Wine vouchers all round.


Omega Mum said...

I'd just give the kids Majestic vouchers. They can either develop a palette early in life or learn the rudiments of the free market economy by trading them for cash

Elsie Button said...

i am just discovering, it's a whole new world - all these birthday parties. I have always been a bit crap with my friends' kids and remembering to buy them presents etc. but now i have betty i have made an effort and made a note of all the birthdays, and even get cards in the post on time - my husband is AMAZED at me being so organised!

thanks for tagging me - i am still trying to think of another 8 things. (was tagged quite recently, and even the first time round i struggled and wrote down b***ocks!!)

beta mum said...

I normally buy a couple of packs of age-appropriate books from one of those clubs, in preparation for a year of parties.
This means each present works out at around £1. Then I can add something small with each book.
But when Ben's friend had a leaving party (he's emigrating) I was informed,
"And get him something good, not just a stupid book."
So I sent his father out with him to choose - he's not as mean as me.

Elsie Button said...

PS i have mentioned you on my latest post (hope you don't mind), because your camping trip reminded me of our last camping holiday...

debio said...

It's the party bags for my own child's parties, I resent - complete waste of money, effort and time. Boo, humbug!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I am enjoying the small class sizes at my children's new school, far fewer presents and far fewer birthdays...

So hard to know what to get, what's wrong with a cardboard box? You buy all these fancy things and then they just play with the box. Tsk.

I have recently purchased some party bags from Frog in the Field, delicious lovelies delivered to my door, so nice. No more trawling the aisles of poundstretcher for's probably called euro-stretcher here.
Bon weekend!

Drunk Mummy said...

omega mum - and in addition, learn a few streetfighting skills, as they wrestle their parents for them.

elsie button - please don't feel any obligation about the 'tagging' - especially if you have already done it recently.
Btw, I am delighted to be mentioned in your post!

beta mum - that sounds extremely organised, and more than adequate, I would say!

debio - yes, I stopped doing those recently as well - hurrah!

Pig - they are finally getting to an age where I can dispense with big parties and therefore party bags. I'm sure Frog's stuff is nice though (can you save one for me? Or a piece of cake, perhaps?)

dulwichmum said...

If you ask me dear heart, you should just give each mummy a bottle of wine. You know she is the one who went through the childbirth afterall, and probably the nightly stress of bath time too. These beautiful ungrateful children get far too much anyway, they don't even notice the half of it. Pass me a glass sweetie?

Drunk Mummy said...

Dearest DM - You are right - I find a bottle of wine is a gift that says you truly care!