Kids-birthday-party

Why You Should Say No To Kids’ Gift Registries

Do you get annoyed by super-expensive wedding gift registries? Especially when you’ve left it to the last minute, and all that’s left is a $500 cutlery set?

RELATED: Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Brace yourself, poor beleaguered parents – kids’ birthday gift registries are an increasingly popular new trend both in Australia and overseas.

Many upmarket small children’s toy and clothing stores and gift shops now offer the wish list service, as do big retailers like Myer, Amazon and Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us.

Other top-end kids’ stores have started offering expensive “bespoke baby hampers” with just the right styling lest you – gasp – commit the cardinal sin of not purchasing the perfect baby gift.
So, have kids’ and babies’ birthday parties gone too far? Or does a gift registry actually help frazzled, time-poor parents?

How would you feel if you received a kids’ birthday party invitation, with a gift registry which included over-the-top, expensive gifts? Of course, this is the norm in la-la land, whereby Hollywood celebrities wouldn’t think twice about buying kids exorbitant and outrageous gifts, such as diamond-encrusted dummies (pictured) and/or a mini Ferrari worth US$25,000.

kids gift registries, parenting, parenting advice

I was recently shocked, when shopping for birthday gifts for my youngest toddler who’s turning two, at some of the super pricey items stocked at a local, small retailer who specialises in cool and quirky kids’ gifts. The store also proudly displayed a sign saying it offered kids’ gift registries.

And then when my three-year-old toddler who had accompanied me started eyeing off a gorgeous, expensive-looking tulle tutu dress in the store, sans price tag, I knew it was time to make a hasty retreat.

“How much is this pretty dress?” I asked the sales assistant, as my three-year-old made a series of small, delighted squeals and on-the-spot twirls while admiring the dress.

“It’s $350,” said the snooty sales assistant, “And handmade,” she quickly added, upon seeing the frown on my face before I speedily escorted my toddler out the door.

Now, I’m not immune to occasionally spending a fortune on my small people, but that’s a bit steep for a kids’ dress she’ll quickly outgrow, if you ask me. And I don’t care if it was handmade by silk worms! I promptly took my little one to Big W and got her a $30 tutu dress she was equally enamoured with.

kids gift registries, parenting, parenting advice

It’s a sentiment shared by Dr Karen Phillip (pictured), who’s one of Australia’s leading relationship and parenting experts.

The counselling psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist, international author and keynote speaker, who’s based on the Central Coast of New South Wales, advises parents against setting up expensive kids’ birthday gift registries and buying super-costly children’s gifts, in general.

“Instead of buying a $350 dress for a child, or putting it on a kids’ gift registry, parents should think: ‘For $350, I can improve my child’s mind,’” Dr Phillip says.

“I don’t like kids’ gift registries personally due to the ramifications of the pressure parents put on themselves and their kids.

“The children’s expectations of themselves become escalated and then they crash and burn in their adolescence.

“I’m referring to their expectations to aspire to, not just gift giving, but expectations of behaviour and achievement – to have to be the best achiever, attain perfection and be good-looking.”

kids gift registries, parenting, parenting advice

And gift registries also greatly negatively impact parents,” Dr Phillip says. “I believe gift registries put unfair expectations on parents and often people can’t afford it – it just takes away from parents.
“People think: ‘I’m letting my child down’. It’s awful!

“And everything is measured against who bought what from the gift registry; it cheapens the process of gift giving.

“A gift registry for a wedding is practical, but a kids’ birthday gift registry for anyone under 16 is rubbish! Kids’ parties can turn into an absolute shemozzle because of the expectations and expense.

“Parents can’t afford it [kids’ gift registries] and some get angry and then the children get offended by the parents’ talking, because the walls have ears, and then the kids fight at school and they get ostracised and bullied.

“It’s also really sad for the kids having the parties when no one shows.”

Dr Phillip says it’s crucial parents instill a sense of gratitude in their children. In addition, open discussion between parents pre-parties was one way to take the stress and expense out of gift giving.

“It’s a good idea for parents to advise other parents of what their child is into or likes as this aids gift purchase,” she says. “So, advising what interests the child is wise without selecting gifts for purchase [via a registry], which may be construed as arrogant.”

kids gift registries, parenting, parenting advice

Mum of two, Erina Natho, 35, from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, who has four-month-old and two-year-old daughters, is not a fan of expensive kids’ birthday gift registries either.

“I would never do it, personally,” Mrs Natho says. “I think anything creating a big expectation in our kids is not good.

“They should get excited by the small things, like a book or a toy, not a big, expensive gift registry.

“I don’t want my kids to miss out on anything either, but then I think about my own childhood, growing up in the 80s, in a single-parent household. I grew up knowing where everything came from, as everything was laybyed.

“These days, kids expect too much. I used to make my own fun! What’s wrong with paint and a bit of imagination?”

While the busy mum concedes kids’ birthday gift registries would prevent parents from doubling up on gifts, Mrs Natho agrees with Dr Phillip that it’s preferable for parents to talk to each other about what kids actually need before buying gifts.

“If I was faced with an expensive kids’ birthday gift registry, I’d probably go: ‘Wow, you know what? I’m going to go get what I want’,” she says.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the joy of giving and the sentiment involved.”

For more information on Dr Phillip, visit www.karenphillip.com.au.

What do you think? Are kids’ birthday gift registries a good idea or an unnecessary evil?

Images via www.lifehacker.com.au; everydaylife.globalpost.com; newsfeed.time.com and www.bornrich.com.

March 25, 2015

Simple Ice Cream Cake With Coloured Cream

Ice cream cakes are awesome, especially if you’re not much of a cook. You can make them for desserts or parties and they cost a fraction of store-bought cakes. All you need is a tub of ice cream (whatever size and flavour) whipped cream, food colouring, sandwich-sized zip-lock bags (if you want to try piping) and a serving platter which will fit into the freezer. Kids love it and most dads will even go back for seconds!

RELATED: Harry’s Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

To prepare the “cake”, take the tub of ice cream out of the freezer and have your platter ready. Put some warm water in the sink and place the ice cream tub in the water for 20-30 seconds at a time, lid off. You want the edges of the ice cream to melt slightly so it will slide out of the tub when you flip it. If you try to flip it and it stays put, it will need more time in the water. You might need to help it out with a spatula or knife.

To flip it, place the platter on top of the tub where the lid would sit. When the edges have melted slightly, the ice cream will slide out. Try not to get the platter or cake wet as this will turn to ice. The edges might look a little messy, but don’t worry, the cream covers it. If it’s really bad smooth the edges but don’t be too fussy. Quickly place it back into the freezer to harden before decorating. This can be done when the ice cream is hard enough to sustain it’s shape and texture while it’s out of the freezer.

While this is happening, whip up a large bowl of cream, separate it into several smaller bowls and add a different food color to each. The more colors the more applications, so it can be as complicated or simple as you like. Mix the colour in well and set the cream aside until it’s time to decorate. Either leave it in the bowls if you want to flick the cream on or load it into individual zip lock bags if you want to pipe it.

If your unsure of your ability to pipe cream or just prefer not to, get a spatula, flick the cream onto the middle of the cake and gently smooth it toward the edges. Don’t aim for a super smooth finish because ice cream and cream are a difficult combination to work with.

You will need to apply the cream rapidly before your cake melts. You can apply a single colour or several, depending on what you want and how creative you want to be. This is also when you add other condiments like, smarties, hundreds and thousands or even try a drizzle of melted Nutella! YUM! The results can be quite stunning when it’s done with a bit of flair.

If you do want to try piping, snip a small hole in the bottom of the cream bag and test it to the side of the cake. This gives you a feel of how it flows. When you are ready, squeeze the bag and pipe the cream onto the cake. Make whatever design you like or apply it randomly. Lines are fairly easy so pipe cream around the edges of the cake and work your way toward the center.

Tip: If you see the ice cream beginning to melt as you apply the cream, replace it back into the freezer before adding the next colour. This can be done as many times as required.

When you are finished decorating, place your decorated ice cream cake back into the freezer and wait for the cream to freeze. It will have an unusual texture, but compliment the ice cream. This indicates that it’s ready to serve and enjoy. If you have some left, place it back into the freezer before it melts and you can enjoy it another day.

Image via punchbowl.com

January 25, 2015

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

If you have a child’s birthday coming up but are fresh out of ideas for a party, take a look at these themes for inspiration to create your own unforgettable party.

Pirates

What little boy (or little girl for that matter) wouldn’t love a pirate inspired birthday party?  A black and white striped garland and table cloth would fit the theme perfectly and consider serving the drinks from old rum bottles (labels removed and bottles thoroughly cleaned first).  You can purchase black skull and cross bone balloons, party bags and cupcake cases.  For a treasure hunt, bury treasure in the garden or sandpit in snaplock bags and mark the spots with an X.  Don’t forget to tell you guests to dress up as their favourite pirate too!

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Ballet

If your little princess loves ballet, then a ballet themed party would go down a treat!  Use subtle pink and white colours for decorations and purchase tutus to slide over the backs of chairs for a really elegant look.  Pink and white striped cupcake cases and ballerina toppers look wonderful for the cupcakes and if you plan on making a birthday cake too, of course make it pink.  Tell your guests to dress as ballerinas and even consider getting a tutor in for a short ballet lesson.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Under the sea

An under the sea inspired birthday party would suit either a boy or girl and of course has a blue theme with lots of fishy friends.  This whale cake is amazing (and possibly one you may need to get made if you’re not experienced in making cakes) and I love the clam shell idea with the pearls inside (which of course are gumballs or another similar type of candy).  Use blue frosting for your cupcakes with little shark fins poking out the top and decorate the room with varying shades of blue crepe paper, twisted slightly for great effect.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Jungle

For a jungle inspired birthday party, you’ll need lots of green, brown and animal print decorations and party supplies.  Purchase an animal piñata, consider paying someone to make an animal themed cake and provide guests with safari hats and toy binoculars when they arrive.  Decorate the room with inflatable (or real if you have them) palm trees and all those animal soft toys that you thought would never have any purpose.  Consider hiring a reptile handler for the party.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Travel

If your little girl loves travel and the finer things in life, this elegant travel themed party could be perfect for her.  Give guests their own passport in a pink travel bag, filled with yummy treats and play pin Australia on the world map – a different take on pin the tail on the donkey.  You’ll need lots of pink decorations and I particularly love the Eiffel Tower themed party hats and cupcake toppers.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Images via blog.hwtm.com, blovelyevents.com, karaspartyideas.com, designhome.pics, hostingessence.com

August 14, 2014