When I was little (cue the Hovis advert music) birthday parties took place at the said birthday person’s house
Now though, toddler birthday parties are major social events held in purpose-built soft-play arenas with lights, and music and people dressed as Peppa Pig.
And so, with our child recently turning two, we booked a morning at one of these soft-play fun palaces and took our first plunge into the world of children’s birthday parties from the parental point of view.
The theory is that you let them loose into the soft-play area and relax and have a coffee while keeping a casual eye on them.
The reality, as we all know, is you spend more time clambering around the place than your kids, trying to watch them like a hawk in case they fall down a hole or crash into another child.
After an hour trying to clamber over bumps and though gaps not designed for people over the age of five, I and some fellow dads were all shattered.
Then it was time for food and little one was fine until the staff brought the cake in and, to emphasise the (two) candles, decided to turn the lights off.
Unfortunately, this spooked little one and she made sure everyone knew about it.
Not even Peppa Pig was going to improve the situation - she was just something else come to put the wind up her as far as she was concerned.
The bubble machine improved things and then it was time to go and the little revellers all headed off.
When we got home we hoped little one would be tired out and go to sleep.
Instead, she spent the afternoon using our lounge as new kind of soft-play while I dived and leapt around trying to prevent those pesky tables and walls getting in the way.
I suppose it’s cheaper than gym membership.