Age of the super sweet kids’ parties

2013-08-04 14:00

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From the bling to the extravagant bash, it’s like parents feel they need to outdo each other, say party planners

South African parents are forking out small fortunes for their children’s parties – complete with ice sculptures, wild animals and pink limousines.

A R500000 beach-themed bash for a 13-year-old girl in the affluent seaside suburb of Camps Bay in Cape Town takes the cake.

The birthday party in April catered for 40 children and 30 adults, at about R7 100 a head.

Events coordinator to the Mother City’s rich and famous, Julie Killias, said this price tag was not unusual for her well-heeled clients.

“Parents pay between R4 000 and R7 000 per head easily, with dresses, hairstylists and make-up included,” she said.

The beach-themed party was hosted at a family’s private home in Camps Bay and featured two 4 metre-high sand castles bathed in pink lights (R15 000 each) and a cocktail fountain sculpted from ice (R11 000).

Killias said: “The sand castle man was the best. He came with a big truck full of sand and built the castles over two days.”

Two magicians, a mocktail bar with Styrofoam sea horses and four Hummer limousines completed the opulent picture.

For the adults, there was a sushi bar and chef, a high-end whisky and cognac station, and tables with big bowls of decorative goldfish.

Killias could not reveal the family’s identity because of a confidentiality agreement. But she confirmed that the birthday girl’s father worked in construction and that the mother did not work.

It’s not just Capetonians who are willing to splash a lot of cash on their children’s special days.

In Johannesburg, Oxana van der Berg of Wild Childs party planners said mobile zoos with squirrels, cockatoos and creepy-crawlies were all the rage, at R1 500 an hour.

Meanwhile, The Limo King was contracted to ferry 10 youngsters from a school in Hartbeespoort Dam in North West to Fourways, northwest of Joburg, for a 13th birthday party last Friday.

The limousine – with fibreoptic bar and ceiling lights – costs R3 500 an hour, for a minimum of four hours.

Carrie-Anne Palm, Limo King owner, said: “We’re picking the girls up after school and taking them to a mall in Fourways for lunch.”

The company also has a pink limousine for R2 800 an hour. It was used to transport six-year-olds to an up-market spa for a “princess party” in Joburg two weeks ago.

Experts say over-the-top children’s parties are being fuelled by reality TV shows and social media.

The MTV reality series My Super Sweet 16, which documents the lives of rich teenagers with huge coming-of-age celebrations, evoked mixed feelings in South Africa.

In 2011, MTV’s Sweet 16 World Class featured the birthday bash of Nina Rykaart, daughter of local security magnate Nantes Rykaart. Festivities included a leopard cub and a fashion show, at a cost of R250 000.

Critics ridiculed such “dystopian” decadence in a nation where people go hungry.

Alison Chibnall of Bash Events in Adelaide, Australia, told Adelaide Now: “It is getting to an extreme point. There are a lot of reality shows on television that cater to children – like Toddlers & Tiaras – and you see the Real Housewives shows with children on there and they’ve got these fantastic parties. Now parents have to compete with these reality shows too. It is almost like parents feel they need to outdo each other. Each party needs to be bigger, better and have more.”

Killias said the must-haves at up-market children’s parties in South Africa are GoPro cameras for sporty children, iPod gift hampers and friendship bracelets. Live shows are all the rage, with a performance by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber at the top of many children’s wish lists, unrealistic as that may be for a South African.

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