Like thousands of other kids across the country, both Sophie and Juliette went back to school today and, tomorrow, Pierre will be heading off to the childminder's too as I go back to work. Part of me always feels a bit guilty, especially when the kids are small, about all the things I miss out on - the first steps, first words, quality time playing together ...
Well, I was pleased to discover that I'm not the only one who feels this way. And even better news is that a mum in a similar situation has come up with a great idea for overstretched working mums and dads who don't want to miss out all of their kids' special moments. Deirdre Bounds, founder of Parties Around The World, explains : "As the mother of two young children myself I know the guilt that many parents feel at having to drop their children off at the nursery door on their birthday. I also felt the pressure to have another large party at the weekend involving their nursery friends. I felt there must be thousands more mums out there who felt the same when their child's birthday fell on a nursery day. So I developed an idea to create a personalised party pack which meant the child could celebrate their birthday, with all of their friends at nursery on the actual day."
You can create a special personalised pack with the name and age of your child containing a birthday card, an A5 fun book, a wall banner, a 'Thank you' certificate and a pack of 10 printed balloons. Add a cake and a few candles (if they're allowed) and you have an instant party to drop off at your child's nursery. No need to feel guilty about "abandoning" your little one on his/her birthday - he'll feel very proud to show off his party pack to his nursery friends.
The packs are designed to be educational and get your child thinking about different cultures and the world we live in. The fun book contains colouring, dot to dot, a maze and a spot the difference, as well as four reading pages with information about the animals and inhabitants of different cultures, and a world map to locate them all in their correct regions. These animals and cute characters in national costume also appear on the birthday card and banner. The different coloured balloons all have a picture of an animal with the animal's name printed underneath.
If you actually analyse what the pack contains, it does work out very expensive. The fun book is A5 sized and contains 10 pages but only 4 activities. The thick plastic banner is the size of 3 A4 pages end to end and, in some ways, I'd rather have it without the age on it so that it could be reused for subsequent birthdays ! Pierre's banner is now proudly pinned up on his bedroom wall because he likes looking at the colourful pictures. You can add extra A6-sized, non personalised fun books for 59p each if you want all the nursery friends to join in, but again, they're expensive for what they are, especially if you need to buy in bulk.
The website explains that the party packs help to raise funds for charity and that they are proud supporters of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, The Born Free Foundation and the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust, but it doesn't say how much they donate for each pack bought.
I love the concept - the hassle-free party organising and the fact that it will make your child feel really important on their special day - but I can't help thinking that the packs will be out of many parents' price range. I think it could be a good idea to offer a cheaper, non-personalised option, for parents working on a tight budget, who still want to offer a special birthday surprise for their child.
star rating : 4/5 (5/5 for the idea, 3/5 for the value for money)
RRP : £24.95 (STOP PRESS : Following on from my review and your feedback, the directors have decided to reduce the price to £14.95 which makes it much better value)
for more information : http://www.partiesaroundtheworld.co.uk/
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