Nothing compares to former Kensington and Chelsea resident Meghan Markle’s baby shower – which apparently cost $200,000 – but some of the birthday parties my yummy-mummy neighbours hold for their little ones are bigger than most people’s weddings. I’m a single mother on a small income, with two children conceived and born after their father died, courtesy of IVF. I just cannot afford to keep up with the Joneses or the Bentley-Coopers. Hence the extreme anxiety I’m having over my toddler’s third birthday party.
I was thinking of having a few of her nursery school mates over for a Paw Patrol-themed play date. And I’d already made provision to decamp the ravenous Golden Retriever to a friend’s house, to stop him getting to the birthday cake before Lola and her friends.
But when one mother asked me who the event planner was, I was thrown into a tailspin. I thought I’d pushed the boat out by ordering Paw Patrol cups, plates and a pink plastic table cloth – even a helium gas canister for the balloons. At first, I thought she was joking, until she told me that for her son’s birthday she had taken some of his classmates on a skiing trip to Zermatt.
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
a day, more exclusives, analysis and extras.
Another mum, whose son we were inviting, told me she had hired a whole nightclub, with a live band, and released a downpour of inflatable guitars on to the children below, from a huge ceiling net. At another party in Holland Park, they had a live orchestra performing Peter and the Wolf to totally uninterested four-year-olds. I’ve even heard of party invitations inscribed on solid silver for you to keep.
Then to totally finish me off, a mum at Kensington Monkey Music class told me her child went to party in a suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Knightsbridge, with a separate suite for prams and nannies to hang out in.
My two-bedroom flat as the venue – and the idea of a Paw Patrol-themed pass-the-parcel game – feels like it won’t be nearly good enough. But I have to keep reminding myself that this is what Lola wants. Even if I offered her a weekend at Disney Paris she would still prefer to dance with her friends in my sitting room to Peppa Pig’s The Bing Bong song.
But I keep having flashbacks of being invited last year to two-year-old Astrid’s party at a local Kensington venue. It was a rave theme, with peace signs everywhere and kids wearing French clothes from local boutiques Bonpoint and Bonton, who were dancing on glass tables to rap music.
I’m in the grip of an identity crisis. Around here parents will spend more money on their pooch’s party than I will on Lola’s. I start to panic and search online for a Paw Patrol bouncy castle, which at least will cover the dog poo-infested garden and provide a more dramatic backdrop. But when it’s delivered by a half-wit with dirt all over his boots, which he treads all over my clean floor hours before the party, I start screaming at the kids to be quiet and let me clean the place, which I do with the intensity of somebody escaping a plane crash.
It must be added that the party was a great success. The M&S food went down well with everybody, except Lola’s friend’s dad, who owns London’s poshest greengrocer Natoora. He wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – but then all his fruit and veg, carefully sourced and only sold in season, arrives in such a rugged state, it looks straight out of a field.
It’s really taking clean-eating in my area to a whole new level.