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Mumbai's kiddie parties are getting fancier

Children’s birthday parties are moving out from the home or the terrace of your building to fancier spaces, and even the tony neighbourhood pub. Shinibali Mitra Saigal tries to find out more this emerging trend on the kiddie party circuit

Tanya wanted a big party on her 10th birthday. She wanted to invite the entire class of 40 children. Varsha Shah, Tanya’s mother was at her wit’s end on how she would accommodate so many kids in her two-bedroom apartment. “I was really stressed about how I would organise the party and I did not want to have it at the usual American fast food restaurant variety nor could I come up with any other option,” she recalls. It’s when a friend suggested Hard Rock Café.

Initially, Varsha was a tad apprehensive because Hard Rock Café is perceived as a space for adults to chill and groove in, post work. “Even we’ve been with friends to grab a drink, listen to music and honestly, have never seen children floating around,” she reasons. However, her visits had always been in the evening. Hard Rock Café does have a dedicated children’s birthday party package on Sundays, where they offer the entire space for children to host their parties and this includes taking over the entire organisation starting with the food, to providing a dedicated game host, doing fun games and even a tiny art corner. “I went as a guest for my daughter’s birthday; that was the best part,” says Shah.

Small is big now
Gone are the days when children’s birthday parties were small affairs with 15-20 friends at home, eating sandwiches and food that mother made and playing standard party games like passing the parcel and pin-the-donkey. In the last decade or so, children’s parties have morphed into big events that require a great degree of planning and thought.

When parties first began moving out of homes, it shifted to the easy-to-find, fast food restaurant in the neighbourhood that had reserved spaces for big groups, a banquet hall and the suburban club. These days, spaces that function as pubs or resto-bars in the evening but are relatively or completely empty in the afternoon, have become venues to host birthdays.

Devika Moghe Nimkar, celebrated both her children’s birthdays at resto-lounges. For her elder daughter’s birthday, she had a Halloween themed party at On Toes pub in Bandra. She hired the place for a Saturday afternoon between 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm. Nimkar said she chose the venue because the location was convenient and because it had a dedicated kid’s menu. The fact that it was a pub did not bother her because the ambience during the day was anything but like a pub. “The place was brightly lit, and there were no bottles on display nor was a bartender present. Even the music was muted and more suited for a kid’s party rather than a night-out,” she informs.
For her younger child’s party, which was at IBar, again in Bandra, Nimkar said the children had a blast because they had a run of the place. There were no other guests and the bar table was used as a dining table for the kids. “The bar stools were slightly high, but the children were very excited with the whole idea of sitting on them.” Even here, the menu was catered to kids, the place brightly lit up and there were plenty of child-friendly games like Tug-O-War. In fact, at IBar, the additional attraction was the tablets placed at some of the tables.


Kids at a birthday party at Bandra’s IBar indulge in a game of tug-of-war as parents watch on

Kids are loving it
Puja Pusalkar organised her son’s seventh birthday at Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF), in Phoenix Mills. She says she decided on the venue because the menu had a lot of things that children love. “I also had a lot of adults coming and the venue had an option where parents or other adults could get a drink.” At the party, they hosted a few basic games — nothing too boisterous, while the servers did a birthday dance.

Pusalkar iterates the fact that TGIF serving alcohol didn’t act as a deterrent because her party was during the day, and TGIF always has plenty of family diners dropping in at that time. The place was lit up, child-friendly and the best thing was that the staff was extremely professional, she elaborated on her choice. Parent Shalini Kumar, who attended a birthday party along with her child at Manchester United Café at InOrbit in Malad, had a fun experience in the new environment. “Manchester United was used as a restaurant for eating, and parents grabbed a drink; the party’s main attraction was to the play zone in the mall,” she said.

Day time is good
Kumar who always hosts her child’s birthday parties at home says that resto-bars aren't a bad option during the day because they are well lit up and more like family spaces in contrast to some spaces that are darkly lit, made worse with blaring music. “I wouldn’t have a party here simply because it is way to expensive and also I would need to follow a set drill and not be able to set the pace and tone,” she explains.

Will the good-old fashioned birthday party be a thing of the past? Maybe not, but the reality is that with more options, parents will not mind outsourcing these big-ticket days in their children's lives, as long as the space makes for a safe, fun place for their little ones to let their hair down.

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