Carnage and cake was on my menu at the children’s parties from hell
In my day, the only thing you took away from a birthday party was a slice of cake if you were lucky and a case of food poisoning if you weren't.
Parties involved a few paste sandwiches, a couple of rounds of musical chairs and a magic show in the living room from your Dad, the climax of which involved everyone pretending they hadn't seen him pocket the 'disappearing' handkerchief.
If you'd have asked for a party bag on your way out of the door, the host would have assumed you were about to vomit.
Down-to-earth violin genius and Norfolk's most impressive export since Nelson, Myleene Klass, has this week spoken out about the ludicrous lengths parents are going to in order to ensure their limb of Satan has a magical birthday: apparently, these days a cake shaped like a caterpillar just isn't enough.
She revealed that there's a new craze which involves parents stipulating that birthday party guests shouldn't bring presents, instead they should contribute towards an iPad or a Wii.
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'What happened to accepting what you're given, feigning excitement and learning it's about who's there and not what they come with?' she said.
'I'm against mums being pressurised and kids being spoilt brats.'
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One of the fantastic bonuses of having older children is the fact I no longer have to host terrifying parties full of frenetic tinies and – worse – their parents (I hated the parents who didn't just drop their children and run. It's one thing looking after kids, it's another having to also make their parents coffee for two hours while they sit yakking to each other about their Volvo's fuel efficiency on your sofa).
The four riders of the apocalypse left less chaos in their wake than a house full of pre-school children at a party: in comparison, the Vikings look like pin-up boys for Good Housekeeping magazine.
Hercules would have baulked at being set the challenge of hosting a children's party without the benefit of stun guns, cattle pens and armed guards, but parents are expected to do it once a year, more if they've foolishly opted to produce more than one little darling.
To a soundtrack of Now That's What I Call Blood Pouring Out of My Ears 721, you can only watch as your house is destroyed by tiny beserkers, many of whom have only a rudimentary grasp of how to use a toilet correctly.
Capping off the horror is the production of a party bag which must contain a dizzying array of plastic tat and toxic sweets, a procedure which sets the currency rate for your child's social acceptance amongst their peers.
Middle-class mothers occasionally attempt to break the cycle of horror by offering children a tiny plant or a packet of seeds or something equally worthy rather than a bag of rubbish destined for landfill.
This is the equivalent, however, of offering adult guests a handful of manure as they leave your cocktail party and expecting them to be grateful. It is also social suicide for your child, who will be ostracised for months and as a result will probably grow up to be an estate agent. Or a journalist.
These days, it is me forking out for the iPads and Wiis and birthday celebrations involve the greatest misnomer of all time: the teenage sleepover.
On the plus side, I don't have to hire entertainers with names like Mr Sausage. On the minus side, the children can't be far off providing their own party bags stuffed with high-grade marijuana (organic, of course. I live in NR2).