Culture House Daily

Is there anything worse than kids’ parties? Actually yes – the shops that sell kids’ presents

19 August 2014

It has been a bad fortnight. Not only am I off the sauce for a few weeks to help my liver grow back, last weekend saw me preparing for a children’s birthday party. This was one I had to attend, seeing as the children are my godchildren (or whatever the secular version is).

This meant shopping for children’s presents. Now I could have done as I do for adult friends and relatives on birthdays, which is arrange to take them out for a brace of Martinis followed by a Jo Allen burger. I rejected this for the kids, however, as Jo Allen is not that suitable for the under 5s.

There are some advantages of living in Crouch End. One is that the only riot you are in danger of being caught up in is if Harris and Hoole run out of soya milk. The other is, if you are forced to buy children’s presents, there are more shops catering to this nonsense than there are fried chicken shops in Brixton.

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In Crouch End there are children named Mason, Raphaela, and Hermione, as well as the usual ruling-class colonisation of proper names such as Jack, Vera, Bert, Sam and Olive. No wonder the working class now have to name its children after film actors and chat-show hosts.

First stop, JoJo Maman Bebe. The name alone makes me want to take a sledgehammer to its windows. I considered buying matching rucksacks for the little critters but was unable to get to the bank in time to raid its entire loot, so ended up looking for any sale items in the neighbouring Niddle Noddle. ‘I am looking for birthday presents for a 3, 4, and 5 year old,’ I told the hessian-clad owner (who doubtless went to Nicaragua in her gap year to help pick coffee). ‘Are they girls or boys?’ she asked. ‘What does that have to do with anything?’I replied, holding her by the throat against the overpriced babygrows. ‘Little girls tend to like pink’, she answered.

Realising I was going nowhere in Niddle Noddle I happened upon Olive Loves Alfie. ‘Olive Loves Alfie is also one of the few places to stock the highly sought-after Salt Water leather sandals (which can be worn in the sea) for little girls, with prices starting at £35,’ reads its website. I won’t bore you with the argument I had in there about paying the cost of dinner for four at Le Gavroche for three ping pong sets, but you can imagine how it went.

Back home and present-less, I have a look on line and find, which describes itself as ‘daily inspiration for the modern family’, and see pictures of Casper, the family toddler, dressed like a cross between an Old Etonian and Grayson Perry.

The party went OK; the kids were satisfied with playing in the dog basket and throwing old shoes and bones around the room. After stamping an entire birthday cake into the carpet and spilling sticky fruit juice over every available surface, they were taken home, where the sugar-free diet I had lovingly prepared for them made them vomit and cold-turkey. Next year I will shove a bit of money in a card for them while I toast them in absentia with a brace of Martinis and a nice juicy burger.

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  • you_kid

    I don’t buy my godchildren presents – I make them do things.
    Three weeks back I got a simple slackline, set it up between two trees in my garden and boOOoom, ten blighters were busy all afternoon. Now call me the godfather of a red letter day for kids…

  • Bruce Crawford

    That’s hilarious and one of the funniest things that I have read in ages. I really did laugh out loud (or LoL as the 12-year olds would have it). I have a policy of keeping nieces and nephews at arms length until they can but me a Martini on their birthday for all the reasons in the piece above.

  • Geoff

    However you dress it up as anti North London sickly bollocks it’s still North London sickly bollocks. You may think you are being cynical but it’s still North London sickly bollocks.

  • Alexsandr

    kids parties -just go to a supermarket and buy all the junk food you can find. Its a PARTY so they are supposed to go home ill.
    or better still take them all to the scottish restaurant. They do the clearing up after.

    But dont commit the cardinal sin and forget the goody bags got them to take home.

    • Kitty MLB

      It that not how socialists feed their children. Fill their minds full of junk
      and bodies also. Remember for children, adults and animals … fresh is best.

      • Alexsandr

        put some carrot sticks by the pringles then.

        wait for the teenage parties. Yuk.

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes a decent salad and chicken legs.
          I shall not mention my liking for bacon sandwiches or brie and Italian ham toasted served with rocket. Homemade pies
          and cakes.

          • Alexsandr

            brie and bacon in a bagel
            true multi cultural food.

            • yestradamous

              Bacon sandwiches with undercooked bacon from a van parked by a park at midnight. Yay, Brittania!

  • Suzy61

    You are going to the wrong parties, Julie. Salmon paste and condensed milk/sugar sprinkle butties with strawberry jelly and Carnation evaporated milk. A birthday cake with lots of bright pink plastic cream……..the kids called Storm, Sunny (sic) and Paige. You need to get out more.

    • Alexsandr

      you can get edible glitter now to make cakes really gross.

      • Suzy61

        oh yes…and ruby glitter in Vodka and Cranberry shots…the kiddies love those!

  • JB_1966

    Why not get them a bottle of port to lay down or a good Russian Imperial Stout which will age until they’re old enough to raid the drinks cupboard and it a fifth the price?

    • Kitty MLB

      And a nice drop of rum in their bedtime milk.. they will sleep like little dormice..
      Or sorry.. you were thinking of when they’re older Oops !

      • JB_1966

        Not necessarily. A midwife (retired and not of the modern hysterical bent) once told us to put sherry on gums during teething and reckoned it worked a treat. And it did.

        • Alexsandr

          originally gripe water had alcohol in it. Ideal for noisy infants!

  • Kitty MLB

    Maybe you should ask the Middleton family.. bet you never thought of that..
    children’s presents with royal approval from lovely little Prince George.
    But yes its all garish, pink, blue ( not that they’re can be any other colour- no offense
    to transsexuals) and plastic. Cakes full of extra sugar to keep the little darlings lively.
    Don’t besmirch names.. Hope you don’t mind Isabella..its a very nice name.
    But in the village we have a little Perequin, Honeysuckle and

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