Karan Johar’s kids Yash and Roohi are turning two years old tomorrow. While their first birthday was celebrated at home, this time, the filmmaker is all set to host a grand birthday bash for his children. The party, which will reportedly be held at a plush hotel in Mumbai, will be attended by star kids Taimur, Shahid-Mira’s daughter Misha Kapoor, Rani Mukerji’s daughter Adira, and Soha Ali Khan’s daughter Inaaya Naumi Kemmu.
Like Karan Johar, many parents today host grand parties on their children’s birthdays. Gone are the days when balloons and crepe paper would be all that was required to celebrate a child’s birthday, or share a cake and spend time with family members and friends. Parents wish to organise the best birthday party for their child, and in an effort to do so, they end up inviting a large number of guests to a high-end venue and treat them to extravagant experiences.
From Eiffel Tower to space themes for your child’s birthday party
That most parents approach professional event planners even for their child’s first birthdays speaks volumes about how birthday parties are increasingly moving towards being grand social affairs. Express Parenting spoke to one such event planner, Vaishali Gupta, founder, La Pitara, who said, “Parents, who approach us, are mostly those who are celebrating their child’s first birthday. With time, the themes for birthday parties have changed, from cartoons to more personalised themes.”
Theme-based birthday parties are an emerging trend now, informed Gupta. As for Gupta’s company, the average budget for these parties ranges between Rs 35,000 and Rs 3-4 lakhs. “Generally, people celebrate their child’s birthdays up to the age of 10, followed by 16 and then 18. On an average, we do 30-35 birthdays in a month,” she said.
And what kind of themes are parent opting for? “The themes depend on the child’s interests. For instance, we have explored themes like travel, flamingoes, space and fashion, to name a few. We had once made a 3D model of the Eiffel Tower for a birthday. Parties are not just restricted to decorations now but include customised cutlery, tags on bottles, invites, cake, return gift and activities,” she informed.
A choice or an obligation?
Celebrating such grand parties make sense if your child is old enough to understand what goes into arranging one. But how does one justify lavish birthday parties for one-year-olds, who hardly have any idea about either the theme or the decoration? “The first birthdays are not ideally for the child since they are too young to understand; they are for the parents and guests,” said Gupta.
Parties are not just about celebrating an occasion; they are more of a status symbol. That’s why one would half expect celebrity events to be grand and expensive. The same rule applies for others too, for whom throwing such parties is an act of social climbing or just maintaining their social status in the least. Perhaps, that’s why parents who come to Gupta opt for a different party theme every year, which is as unique as the one hosted by their peers. “If they opted for a particular theme one year, they wouldn’t repeat it the next year since the guests would more or less be the same people. Somewhere, it is an obligation on the part of the family also,” said Gupta.
Most people, especially in urban areas, are constantly coping with the desire to be accepted and included among their peer groups. “We once went to a birthday party to a pizza outlet, where there were a large group of kids. Interestingly, they hardly knew one another. On asking the parents, we got to know that they had moved to a certain housing complex recently and so, they invited each and every kid. I don’t think half of them even knew whose birthday party they were attending,” graphic designer and father to an 11-year-old boy, Sidharth Ghosh, told Express Parenting.
“There’s some peer pressure, no doubt. The amount parents spend on a party or the theme they choose is often driven by comparison with other group of parents too, even if they may or may not have the budget for it,” Gupta explained.
She added, “Such parties become the topic of discussion among social networks and is one of the major reasons why people throw such lavish parties. When the invite is sent, two things that matter the most are the venue (which has to be of a certain standard) and the theme. Clients keep pushing us to do something entirely different for them. There are mothers, who are members of kitties and who reject a particular theme because it has already been done by another member.”
That’s not to say that only parents are left to battle with peer pressure. Children might also end up feeling it with increased exposure and growing age. If children find their friends throwing expensive parties, they are more likely to nag their parents for the same.
According to parenting coach and mother Dr Debmita Dutta, the peer pressure children feel has much to do with what they learn from parents at home. “Most of the peer pressure begins from the parents, who are constantly drawing comparisons, complaining or striving to showcase their wealth. And that’s how children learn to compete as well and begin to feel a similar pressure. Parents need to stop doing this,” Dr Dutta, founder, What Parents Ask, told Express Parenting.
How to deal with your child
Dr Dutta spoke about a child once complaining to her parents about not owning a BMW car. Children need to be made to understand that every luxury comes at a price, which may or may not be affordable. They need to be shown how these gala events, no matter how trendy, are not the reality, not for all, at least. “I have also seen people gifting mobile phones and laptops to their six-seven year olds, but do they really understand the value of it? The child needs to understand the value of money,” said Ghosh.
If your main objective is to make your child feel special, here some alternative ways to do so, as suggested by Dutta.
1. Parties should be age-appropriate
“Inviting 100 people for your one-year-old’s birthday party is foolishness because he or she will only feel troubled with so many people around,” said Dr Dutta. It is parents, who first need to understand that competing with their friends in throwing the most magnificent party does no good to the child. Instead, plan things appropriate for your child’s age. “Invite only 10 people if need be, but those who really matter to your child,” Dr Dutta added.
2. Special doesn’t mean expensive
“One of the most important things you need to convey to children is that being unique and special is not the same as being expensive. As far as children are concerned, they are mainly looking to spend a good time. If you can get them to enjoy themselves, they won’t really care about the expenses. You may be spending lots of money in decorating the venue. But you ask your children about the details and they would probably have no memory of it,” said Dr Dutta.
3. Make it more personalised
Couple of years ago, when Ghosh celebrated his son’s birthday at home, he made Avenger-themed masks for the children, which they loved. Making your child feel special doesn’t necessarily entail showering every possible luxury upon him or her. Celebrations should be more about spreading love. “Children need to be told that they need not imitate everything that others do or own what they possess. They need to be told that they should be content and grateful for what they have. And the conversation can only be taken forward when parents believe in and practice the same. Involve your child in other activities, such as planning a trip together, going for a picnic or a place where children can really run around and mess things up. Your child needs to be taught that what matters more are experiences rather than the money you spend,” Dr Dutta explained.
4. Spend time and imagination rather than money
“The problem is that we don’t want to spend time, which is what children really need. If parents really want their child to feel special, there are other ways of achieving it rather than walking into a lavishly decorated hall. Rather than excessive amounts of money, we need to spend time and imagination to create experiences that would really make a child feel special,” Dr Dutta concluded.