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Lifestyle : Party and Event Planning Special Report 2013
1HERSA1 W005 THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2013 5 Party & event planning Great ideas make it child's play The Kellahans: Deborah and Michael with David, 10, Zara, 5, Anastasia, 7, and James, 12. Photo: Anna Kucera Continued Page 6 The pressure is on parents to come up with inspired themes but plenty of help is at hand, says Belinda Parkes. When mother-of-four Deborah Kellahan held her daughter's birthday party in the backyard with guests playing pin-the-tail on the donkey and pass the parcel, she was praised for her ''retro'' theme. That guests assumed there was a theme is itself indicative of how serious the children's party scene has become. Lemonade and cupcakes on the kitchen bench no longer cut it when the avenues open to children are almost limitless. Even party bags have gone upscale, with some parents including PlayStation games or theme park tickets among the guests' take-home goodies. Kellahan, from Roseville on the North Shore, says her kids haven't been invited to a McDonald's party for years. When we spoke, she was gearing up for a weekend with five birthday parties,with attractions ranging from from jumping castles to Laser Tag. "Where we live people are fairly wealthy and time-poor and are used to out-sourcing," she says. "Everything these days is more professional. "Our son loves running but rather than just run around the block he wants to join a running club and that attitude has filtered over into parties as well -- you need to get someone who is an expert." Kellahan says parents face pressure from their children to do something bigger and better, especially as they get older, but even her five-year-old wanted to know why the fairy at her friend's birthday the previous week wasn't going to pop into her party too. And she says the trend towards going out to have an experience means younger siblings often lose the chance to be a part of the celebration. Kellahan says she and her husband have consciously resisted more extravagant parties due to the cost. And while she admits she would like to treat their older boys to a fun day out with their friends, she believes younger children are perfectly content doing traditional things. "We don't want to set the bar too high," says Kellahan. She is comfortable planning her own parties but recognises many parents are not so confident dealing with large numbers of over-excited children and are happy to hand over the challenge to someone who does it for a living. "I think the thought of 20 five- year-olds would scare most adults," she says. Amy Gee is the director of Pomodorina, a boutique events company priding itself on original, high-level functions. She says it is not out of the ordinary for parents to spend $15,000 on their child's party for a full-service package including invitations, set-up and decorating, entertainment, catering of home- made food and amazing birthday cake, along with the loot bags and the clean-up. A beautiful party can still be organised for about $3000, she says, depending on how much you are happy to do yourself. "We have converted a rumpus room into a ballet studio but it can be as simple as just having a sweets table that looks beautiful with a tiered cake," says Gee. "An entertainer is one of the main activities we do but we also include a quiet corner with storybooks and puzzles about the theme because you generally get a mixture of ages and [level of] confidences. ''The quiet corner is a nice way for kids to come and participate in a slower way and build up their own confidence without being dragged out into the party straight away."
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