Branded Kiddie Birthday Parties Aren’t Adorable They're Consumerism Gone Mad
Every other week, it seems like one celebrity or another cops a bashing on social media for throwing an extravagant, over-the-top themed celebration for their precious tot.
They’re nothing new. But the latest trend of “branded” parties is taking this concept to a level that is just… mind-blowing.
One family, for instance, garnered headlines for throwing their four year old an Aldi-themed party.
That’s right, the party "theme" is… grocery shopping. The decor is cash registers and shopping carts. The colour scheme is orange and blue, in line with Aldi branding. It’s all very cute and mum’s attention to detail is on point -- she even had a custom-made Aldi uniform made for her supermarket-obsessed pre-schooler -- but there’s something slightly unsettling about the whole caper.
Is it just the same as running with a superhero or butterfly theme? Or do these types of branded parties -- Bec Judd took some heat for an LOL Surprise! doll-themed one last year -- reek of consumerism and wastefulness?
I must confess that I myself have fallen down the Perfect Kids’ Party rabbit hole before. Multiple times. And they were, generally speaking, a massive exercise in wasting money.
It happens subtly. It’ll be one my kids’ birthdays and we’ll decide on a theme --Mickey Mouse, Frozen, The Wiggles, etc -- and at the beginning, my budget of $150 seems more than enough to cover party pies, fairy bread, lolly bags and prizes for pass the parcel.
But before long, I get sucked in. Suddenly, I’m cruising eBay for themed party favours, decor and games. I’m spending $50 on “customised” invitations and thank you tags -- which I go and get printed in full-colour for another $50. Then I’m manically filling a trolley in the party section at Big W as if I’m on Supermarket Sweep, and I’m readily justifying the $4 themed paper plates over the $1 plain paper plates, because #themed.
Factor in a budget line for the party entertainer, because what’s a kid's birthday party without a costumed Elsa painting your kids' faces? And suddenly, my initial cost estimate seems laughable.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my first child’s first three birthday parties -- the one’s she’ll definitely remember forever! (where is the sarcasm font?) -- set me back close to $1000 each.
That’s chump change compared to the budget for Kylie Jenner’s recent party, though.
Ostensibly, the extravaganza that Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott threw last weekend was for their daughter Stormi. She turned two. So they literally created a new brand for her -- a theme park.
Named Stormi World, it had her face everywhere. There was a six-story blow-up of her head, and guests walked through her open mouth. The rollercoaster, slides and other rides featured massive recreations of her moniker. There were even people paid to walk around wearing over-sized Stormi costumes, and a merch stand invited people to get their own Stormi World-branded hoodies.
It was a slightly terrifying display of what happens when a person has too much wealth, and too many “yes” people around them. Did anyone gently suggest that filling a skill tester with hundreds of tiny, soft cushions bearing her daughter’s face is perhaps not a great idea? (Also: what are people meant to do with these when they take them home?)
I used to think these types of parties were harmless. If you’ve got the money, why not?
Then I began viewing them as kind of useless -- it’s a waste of money, and stuff, when you consider all the piddle and crap that is required to create a themed or branded birthday party, 90 percent of which is binned afterwards. Most kids in attendance won’t remember whether the cups and plates were plain-coloured or covered in superheroes. But, it gives the mum joy to throw herself into a project and share the special day on social media. So again, why not?
My last comment sums it up, really. These parties make the mum happy, but what about the child? (Note: I know I’m generalising, but the lion’s share of the dads I know would joyfully volunteer for a root canal before agreeing to plan their offspring’s birthday party.) They’d be happy as long as they’ve got their mates, some treats and a game of pass the parcel. Anything extra is the icing on the cake -- literally.
Still, no one is getting hurt. So what’s the harm? Other than instilling an inflated sense of importance and entitlement within your child (hopefully not permanently): probably nothing.
Until, of course, these types of affairs reach Stormi World levels of insanity.
The cynic in me believes this birthday party -- and the second, smaller family backyard shindig (which also has to be seen to be believed) -- was billed as a celebration for Stormi, but it was actually just a savvy marketing exercise.
After all, wouldn’t you know it? Kylie has introduced a new makeup range: The Stormi Collection.
It’s sold out already.
Branded parties, eh?