Birthdays – Then and Now




  • A partly-burnt hardened sponge-cake baked at home by cuddly mom (P.S: They really must change the name of that cake!)
  • A pack of measly sized brightly-coloured candles, many small balloons and colourful crepe strips to hang on the walls
  • Menu: Cake, potato chips, samosas (mmmmm…) and tomato sauce (yeah, Maggi was premium!). AND: Rasna Orange,Sweet lime and/or Kala Khatta. Some goli-soda if possible for the men.
  • An old tape recorder with your dad donning the DJ’s cap
  • A bunch of relatives, friends, neighbours and gate-crashers from just down the street
  • Excitement on receiving silly plastic toys as gifts
  • (The upper middle class used to give mini-crayons as return gifts)
  • End state: A whale of time!!!!




  • The very basic: THEME for the party (e.g, Thomas / Dora / Fifi)
  • Invites (with provision for RSVP), Festoons, Balloons and decorations all in line with the party theme
  • A guest list (with repeated calls and confirmation and re-confirmation)
  • Centrally-located child-friendly venue
    • Nice-to-have: Space for car-park
    • Essential: Buggy-park!
  • A huge creamy cake, also in the shape of the theme! Cost: Min. INR 750. Max: GBP 85
  • Menu: Starters for kids, Starters for adults, Drinks (sipper/straw/etc) for kids, Drinks for adults (non-alchoholic, sugar-free, low-calorie), the birthday cake of course, Snacks to go with the cake (surprising, how chips still remains a favourite, though its now with Heinz Ketchup – not sauce, please!), the Main course, Dessert, Special garbage bags to recycle paper plates/cups
  • Extras: Provision for nappy-change, handy boxes of big tissues for mopping up any split stuff off the carpet
  • Expensive-looking return gifts in line with theme (also classified into ‘Close friends’, ‘Acquaintances and ‘NOT friends’ category)
  • End state: Tired birthday boy/girl, Distressed parents, worried guests wondering how they will make the tiring drive back home



21 thoughts on “Birthdays – Then and Now

  1. 🙂
    Yea.. times sure have changed…
    before, the friends knew it was your b’day and they would turn up.
    Now, you need to call them, keep the party on a conevnient weekend and of course, the location has to be central to everyone and the place a bit expensive, but not too showy!!! (Ufff… so much of a hassle for such a special day!)

    1. Exactly, Pix. Friends did know and they didn’t need to be consulted/invited. I don’t like the current trend one bit 😦 And thanks for liking the layout. I was wondering if it was a little dull!

  2. Hey I like your new template.

    You missed the part where there has to be a camel/ elephant/ merry-go-round/ mini giant wheel as well for the kids and a giant man with a clown face walking around on stilts and handing out chocolates.

    You missed the part also where expensive gifts are the norm – No more nice new pewncil box with mickey on it and an attcahed sharpener. Now its got to be the high-tech Ipod or latest dvd or xbox-games etc 😛

  3. When you are having a birthday party
    you cannot afford to be thrifty
    lest your guests get miffed
    and no crayons as return gift
    the times they are a changin’

  4. 🙂

    This had me grinning wide. Reminds me of all the times I have done my bit as a party organiser for mine two bestest. Due to the sudden and untimely return to studies I emabrked a couple of years ago, the kids were abruptly deprived of these celebrations and now the elder one thinks she is too old for such a bash (something more age-appropriate is sought) and the younger one valiantly tries to copy his big sis.

    Miss the parties, the hassles, the heartbreaks over the kids who didn’t come, the agonies of keeping a “close eye” on the naughtiest ones in the group (usually left unsupervised by parents releived to be away from them even its for a few hours), the games and prizes in the passing the parcel and a dozen other games (all variants of the common ‘boring ‘ games) and then enjoying the pleasure at the final thrill of unwrapping the gifts before memories of the birthday party were carefully filed away for future reference. 😛

    Thank you for sharing this and yes, WIsh the lil one a belated happy birthday from me.

  5. SMM, could I miss the entertainment and expensive gifts. Going to edit my post now! Gosh…how much life has changed.

    Yeah buddy…birthday parties are so tiresome!

    LOL…I crayons..probably a set of Aqua-Draw mats (obviously, they have to be in line with the theme!!). Cool poem too.

    Lovely to see you here. Thanks, for sharing those fond memories. Kids do outgrow birthday parties, don’t they? We don’t though! Wonder how our parents did it, year after year! And no, it wasn’t sonny’s bday. But a friend’s daughter’s birthday is coming up soon.

  6. So very true Pal. I really feel the childhood enthu of a birthday is lost in this brightly lit bday parties. Agree with every word you have written.Friends are now actually judged on the gifts they give. Ridiculous.

  7. At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, I must say I quite disapprove of today’s trends as far as kids go.

    I remember having all of two bday parties..I mean a proper party with a home baked and decorated cake, eatables, gifts and return gifts which by the way were just cheap little trinkets, and,of course games like musical chairs and passing the parcel.

    But, I never missed them. Nor, did I feel deprived because all my friends and loved ones knew. I got little gifts. And, I still think my mum’s blackforest cake beat most of the fancy, cakes I see in the bakeries today.

    I just don’t know if we expected less when we were kids or whether, we just knew how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

  8. And remember ‘Birthday Dress’!! That special dress that either Mom(Called Amma or aai or some such cute thing) stitched for us or they bought for us-was something to show off and look forward to!
    Now our lucky(?!) kiddies have Mamma and Dada buying them new clothes every time there is some new stock in the local shop! Rollback, Sale, Favourite cartoon charecter-any excuse does it! 🙂

  9. Shubha,
    I completely agree.. that innocent enjoyment of ‘your special day’ is unfortunately lost in grandiose birthday parties! Sigh!

    Me too..I disapprove too! Yeah, maybe we didn’t have much expectations.
    Less TV + Less competition => Low expectations + A lot of fun!!

    Or maybe our parents felt all the stress and we just skipped about having fun!

    LOL…I know…kids don’t even value the concept of ‘that special birthday outfit’. My sis and I used to plan our birthday dress so many days/weeks in advance. It was something special.
    Btw, I hereby declare you ‘Asda’s preffered Star customer’.

  10. I love ur post Palls.brought back so many memories.. We(sis and me) used to get a new dress for bday (one of the few occasions), which we cld wear it to school and distribute ‘caramilk’ or ‘coffee bite’ chocolates.. such bliss.. my granny wld make a definite visit to the temple for a archanai in our name..
    now a days, Bday trinkets are a billion dollar industry ..gone are those ‘special’ days..sigh!

  11. Yuva: So when is now? 🙂 And thanks for agreeing to babysit my little monster brat. U hvn’t met him in the last year, so u don’t really know what you’ve just got yourself into :-))

    Meena: Thanks! My sis and I also used to cherish that Bday dress, and used to compete to make sure that the Bday girl has the grander dress 🙂 All those simple joys of life..seem so very far back in time.

  12. Pal, Times have changed. I remember ours where more emphasis was on Birthday dress and then a cake. Now the whole theme and goody bags and invitation and Thank you cards. It takes at least a month to plan.

  13. I know, Sol! It does take a long long time to plan out every detail. Why Oh Why do we need to be perfect? Why can’t we just enjoy life in its beautiful imperfections?!

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