Welcome to the world of American birthday parties, where doting parents dig deep to spoil their little princesses and princes on their special day. And the sky is the limit.
It was a tough choice for the five-year-old birthday girl, whether to choose the baby blue nail varnish to match her dress or the pretty peach as her giggly guests awaited their turn.
AdvertisementJennifer, turned out in her Alice in Wonderland party dress, had been adamant that she wanted a pedicure party to celebrate her fifth birthday, and was making her first trip to the chic Dashing Diva salon on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
"I don't know if it was a good idea. I wanted to have a smaller group of people, it's hard in the house, and she wanted to have it," sighed mum Anne Levin-Nussbaum, a divorce lawyer, as the girls oohed and ahhed over the colorful nail polishes.
"I was also trying not to spend thousands. I looked on the Internet and all is so expensive. Here it is already 50 dollars per kid without the options."
In the end, Jennifer chose both colors, alternating them on her fingers and toes, and topping them with a delicate daisy stencil.
But some might have considered her salon surprise a pretty tame affair, in what has become a growing fashion to throw wild, more exciting and often extravagant, over-the-top kids celebrations.
How about a pirate party aboard the four-masted barque "Peking," part of the South Street Seaport Museum? Some parents may need the help of a little buried treasure to pay the 2,000-dollar bill for a jamboree for 20.
Or their little monkeys could have a trip to the Bronx zoo. Themed educational "monkeymania" parties with drinks and cake included go for around 1,200 dollars.
Children's parties have come a long way from balloons and games in the front room of your house, followed by a birthday tea of sandwiches and cake.
And the choices are as endless as a child's imagination and limited only by the size of their parent's wallet -- from bowling alleys, to wall-climbing centers and water parks, to pottery workshops, trampolining centers and aviation museums.
Hard-pressed, busy mums and dads can hand over virtually all the organization to the venue of their choice, which will provide pre-printed invitations and ready-to-go goodie bags.
Steve Parks, manager at the Dashing Diva salon for two years, said business was brisk. "It's been growing and growing. We are having more and more parties, some times the kids arrive in limos from Connecticut," he told AFP.
While Jennifer and her 10 friends sat demurely on a puffed pink love seat watching the manicurists at work, 20-year-old Dominick Laracuente was hard at work handling out lollipops and whipping up the party atmosphere with some music.
Then it was time for cake. As the lights went down, Dominick arrived with a white cream confection decorated with pink and green flowers.
Suddenly all decorum was cast to the wind, as with whoops of joy after blowing out the five candles, the girls dug into the cake ignoring their freshly painted nails.
Overwhelmed with emotion towards the end of her two-hour celebration, Jennifer burst into tears when she got cake on her face. But then cheering up, she launched in a wild dance around the salon with her friends, issuing a tribal war cry, while bemused customers looked on.
But as they all left exhausted after a fun-filled afternoon, at least her mum knew there was no mess to clear up at home.
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