When I was growing up in the eighties, birthday parties were pleasant, casual affairs. Each girl would hand out invitations to the other seven girls in the class. After school, the mom would bring us to her home in the station wagon. We'd eat cake, open gifts, play in the rec room, and have lasagna. Then the dad would drive everyone home. We'd all be trying to see what was in our treat bags by the light of the street lamps, and hoping to be the last to be dropped off.
For my kids, invitations can't be handed out at school unless every child in the class is invited. Most parties are held on the weekend, at community centres, Science World or Go Bananas. Some parents hire planners; I suppose this becomes necessary when, as was the case with a party we attended this summer, over sixty children are in attendance. Parents of the partygoers can't drop their children off because they're required to help supervise.
It's very organized and inclusive.
I miss the old days.