Celeb kids get all the best stuff, don't they? There's Suri with her midnight trips to the couture ice cream parlour, Blue Ivy and her bespoke pair of Swarovski studded bootees
. And now Wayne Rooney has asked One Direction to play at his son's third birthday party
because their music 'makes him smile.
'Spoilt little brats', we all crow, dismissively - flicking through the Argos catalogue
for bargains and buying goodie bag toys in bulk from Poundland.
But aren't we being just a teeny bit hypocritical? We love to criticise, but are we ordinary people – people with real jobs who don't drink Cristal from diamond slippers on a Tuesday in January – any less guilty of 'spoiling' our children?
In my local Co-op last Christmas, the sales assistant told me she had spent £500 on her child's Christmas presents (money that she surely couldn't have earned from a part time job on the till) and was complaining that by Boxing Day, all he wanted to do was watch the TV.
I felt sorry that she felt the need to create such an unsustainable level of indulgence. Every year from now on, she'll be a desperate bankrupt wreck spending money on stuff he doesn't care about or even want. Nobody wins.
Surely spoiling kids is the very definition of futility.
But then...you know, she's doing it because she loves him. And they ARE our children. I mean, they're the light of our lives, we made them, they're our reason to be. Is it so wrong to be a bit extravagant? When it comes to birthday parties, Christmas, new experiences and days out, aren't we all a little bit tempted to go overboard to make our kids happy?
As a rule, I don't indulge my child, but I'll splash out happily to make him smile – with the Super Mario Wii that's hiding in the cupboard waiting for Christmas morning. Anyway, the alternative could be even more damaging. Surely offering them a cardboard box
to play in isn't the answer, unless you want them to yearn for the crappiest toys in the toyshop, and develop a materialistic streak in adulthood, trying to claw back what they felt was lacking in their youth.
Su Forrester-Brown, a former child protection social worker turned MD of party organisation company Birthday Dreams, organises bespoke parties for everyone from Joe Bloggs to children of Russian families who work in banking. Having seen the dark side of bad parenting, she thinks that it's vital to create a sense of occasion and treat your kids.
"I saw so much misery in my old job. If we don't take care of our children and give them a bit of fun, who will? Birthdays are a celebration of life, and even in this time of austerity, people want something lovely going on for their children... And when you add it up, a memorable party costs the same as a buying a packet of cigarettes every day."
The problem is, though, that saving your fag money to provide a generous gesture for your children doesn't always hit the mark. Most kid's bedrooms contain an expensive purchase that went awry.
"I spend so much money on Lego," says Emmelina. "£60 and 5 Mum hours later and you have a Star Wars Tie fighter that lasts approximately 2 days before a football hits it."
"I bought my daughter a Kenzo Junior stripy bodysuit when she was about six months," says Anna. "I was staying at my mum's, got up, fed her, got her dressed and then went up to have a shower. By the time I came back down she had thrown up over it and was in a new outfit.
"For her third birthday I bought her a turquoise velvet chong-sam with matching maribou-trimmed shrug from Jigsaw Junior. (Don't judge.) She wore it to her party, ground chocolate into it and then I had to get it dry cleaned. Her younger brother, of course, wears H&M."
Not only can an extravagant purchase get a lukewarm reaction from your child, but you might also have to consider the reaction of other parents, who can make you wish you hadn't bothered splashing out at all. An extravagant purchase can be easily misinterpreted as serial spoiling, and get you the reputation that your kid is some kind of special little flower, who only drinks Evian and has a pony.
"My daughter got a Pandora bracelet for her 7th birthday, which some people sneered at, and I bought my kids an iPad 2 for Christmas," says Gemma. "I got lots of grief from other parents about it."
But whether it's a £700 trip to Lapland
to see Santa or a weekend in Egypt to support a primary school project, when most parents 'spoil' their children what they're really trying to show them is that they're making an effort. That we love them.
Apart from the bank balance, there's no real difference between Wayne Rooney getting One Direction to play at little Kai's birthday party and the decision to go on holiday to Disneyland Paris – 'for the kids.'
And the more effort you make, the more likely that experience will be appreciated forever.
Novelist Joanne Harris, author of the best selling Chocolat, once pulled some strings to get a manuscript of the third Harry Potter story for her six-year-old daughter, three months before it came out. "I recorded it onto audiotape as a Christmas present," she says, "Every day in the back bedroom when she was at school. It took AGES. She opened it at Christmas and vanished with it for a week."
Extravagant, yes. But also wonderful. And if we can go the extra mile to create some happy memories for our children, why shouldn't we?
What do you think? Tell us your 'worst' extravagances - the ones that really weren't worth it - and the best?
- Tori Spelling's daughter gets life-sized Barbie cake
90210 star Tori and husband Dean are no strangers to epic children’s birthday parties (and the photo shoot opportunities they come with), but they well and truly took the cake in 2010, when they threw daughter Stella a bumper Barbie themed party for her second birthday. The birthday girl wore a pink tutu and guests tucked into a life-sized Barbie cake (double the size of poor Stella), complete with additional pink cupcakes, pink icing and pink lemonade. Unconfirmed reports say every guest went home with sore eyes and a migraine. </p>
- Kai Rooney parties with llamas and horses
Wayne and Coleen pulled out all the stops for son Kai’s <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/07/kai-rooney-and-100-guests-party-with-llamas-and-horses-for-his-second-birthday/" target="_blank">second birthday bash</a> - horses, llamas and, er, staff dressed as cows were all in attendance. The celebrity pair hired several animals and entertainers for Kai and his 100 (!) party guests, with one perplexed insider saying: “It looked amazing. There were balloons twisted into the shape of tractors, and animals everywhere. Then somebody who looked like Snow White walked in with a goat!” Brilliant. </p>
- Angelina and Brad take Pax on a river cruise
Brangelina know exactly how to par-tay with a seven-year-old in the house - they organised a luxury river cruise on the Seine in France for birthday boy Pax. The whole clan - Brad, Ange, Maddox, Zahara and Shiloh - were aboard (minus little ‘uns Knox and Vivienne who were presumably not up for the way too grown up boat bash). At least balloons and cake made an appearance. </p>
- Gwen spends $15,000 on Kingston's fourth birthday
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale didn’t spare the pennies when their son Kingston turned four - they apparently splashed out on a party costing $15,000. Given that the party was actually held at their LA home, the couple had plenty of cash available to hire bouncy castles, actors dressed as superheroes, a luxury lemonade stand and a candy floss machine. Guests in attendance included the Beckham boys and Kate Beckinsale. </p>
- Kourtney Kardashian gets a petting zoo for Mason's first birthday
When you’re turning one, what more do you need in your life than a petting zoo and an OK! magazine exclusive? Step forward Mason Disick, whose parents, Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, threw a bumper bash with a circus and carnival theme for added effect and photo opps. The whole Kardashian clan were in attendance for the party (and magazine photos, of course…).</p>
- The Wanted play for Romeo Beckham
The Beckhams' middle son got exactly what he Wanted for his 10<sup>th</sup> birthday - his favourite band, The Wanted, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/09/04/top-boy-band-play-the-wanted-play-for-romeo-beckham-10th-birthday-party/" target="_blank">played exclusively for him and pals at his party</a>. Posh showed her appreciation afterwards, albeit very smugly, tweeting the boys with the message: “The <a href="https://twitter.com/thewantedmusic" target="_blank">@thewantedmusic</a> boys, the coolest boys in music!!! Thank you for making Romeo's 10th birthday so special!!!! X vb.”</p>
- Suri Cruise has a circus party
Rumour has it Princess Suri had a fancy pants <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/04/06/suri-cruise-birthday-13-000-circus-party/" target="_blank">fifth birthday party</a> to the tune of £13,000! Pre-split, Tom and Katie hired professional actors to dress up as children’s characters, and ordered a whole load of animals, including giraffes and elephants for Suri and her pals to marvel over. Any bets on what she’ll be getting for her next birthday, post-TomKat break up?</p>
- Britney hires trampoline park for boys' birthday bash
Brit hired an entire trampoline park for her boys to enjoy for a joint birthday party this year, when Sean Preston turned seven and Jayden James celebrated being six. Britney kept it small by celeb standards, with 20 of the boys’ friends invited to enjoy the park, eat cake (and then trampoline? Rather you than us, Brit…), and play party games before heading back home to open presents. </p>
- Harper has a ball with pink party rabbits
Harper Beckham’s <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/07/09/happy-birthday-harper-seven-beckham-victoria-david-daughter-turns-one/" target="_blank">first birthday</a> was always going to be a party to write home about, and according to reports by Closer magazine, Posh and Becks didn’t disappoint, spending a whopping £50,000 on their little’s girl’s celebrations. After years hankering for a girl to join the family, it’s no surprise the party was out-of-this-world girlie, with pink cuddly toys, pony rides, cupcakes and even pink rabbits roaming around. We feel for the cleaner…</p>
- P. Diddy's son gets a trip to Vegas
P. Diddy’s little boy got a trip of a lifetime for his 12<sup>th</sup> birthday. He was whisked away to Vegas in a fancy black tour bus for a three day break with friends. The gang saw the sights, ate a lot of pizza and tucked into a custom cake which was as tall as the birthday boy.</p>
- Mariah Carey's twins get mini Ferrari for their first birthday
Mariah was always going to go all out for dem babies’ first birthday, but twins Moroccan and Monroe really did get everything and more when they turned one - a mini Ferrari, rocking horse, dolls’ house and miniature white piano. The one-year-olds were dressed to impress for their party, with Monroe in a fancy white frock and Moroccan suited and booted in a mini tux (we’re guessing they weren’t allowed to eat!). Mariah and husband Nick Cannon shared a whole heap of party snaps from the big day, you can <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/05/14/happy-birthday-to-dem-babies-mariah-carey-shows-off-twins-moroccan-monroe-first-birthday-party-presents/" target="_blank">take a look in our gallery (you know you want to…).</a></p>