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My b/f and I are moving to France in a few months. when we move, i was thinking of setting up my own business. What i would like to do is a website that sells decorations, party bags as well as things like pass the parcels, etc for children's parties. Is this a very English/american idea or would it work in France as well? What do you all do for children's parties?
Thank you,
Victoria
 

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I think these types of items are becoming more popular (although I have no idea what "pass the parcel" is). I see more and more of them in the stores like PicWic and Carrefour than I did a couple years ago. Children's birthday parties tend to be done at home, and are a lot more laid back than they are in the US. A part of the party is just opening the gifts and letting everyone play with them. I can't seem to recall any of my children going to a themed birthday party - other than their own.

I'm not aware of any other internet-based businesses that you'd be competing with.

If you do make this a reality - could you please include cake decorating supplies? I have to get all my stuff from the US.
 

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Off the top of my head, I'd say this is a very English/American idea - but with proper marketing, it could catch on here in France. Worth a try, anyhow.

It's just my observation (I don't have kids myself) but the folks in our area seem to do children's birthday parties and such mostly among family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, grandpa, etc. - and not so much with neighborhood kids or schoolmates invited. But parties like this still need balloons and decorations, even if the games and all are a little less formally organized.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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It's just my observation (I don't have kids myself) but the folks in our area seem to do children's birthday parties and such mostly among family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, grandpa, etc. - and not so much with neighborhood kids or schoolmates invited.
I find it is this way for the pre-school age children. The primary school-age children have parties with friends. It is quite common for American children to invite their entire class, or at least all the kids in their class that are the same gender, but I've found parties here to be smaller. Perhaps because the parties are almost always at home.
 

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Usually guests are chosen by the kid whose birthday is celebrated. Commonly there is no politically correct invitation : I mean that kids with whom your own kid do not get on well with would not be invited. Styles are very different from a familly to another. Nowdays it varies from going to a famous burger-maker-clown to home-organized parties. In the last case, some parents may pay for someone to come home and entertain the children and others will propose games or activities of their owns.

When I was a kid, my Mom used to make a cake with only candles on to be blown. Friends and I played games or did some craftwork suggested by my Mom and I then opened the gifts brought by my friends...
As my little girl is only 9 months old, it's a bit early to tell you about the birthday party I would plan for her.
Good luck for your business.
 

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Most of the parties my kid went to were either at home with an entertainer or at some facilities. For the latter case, it would be aquarium de Paris, or jardin d'acclimatation or Aquaboulevard or museums and the rate is usually around 350 eur for 10 kids, most of the time cake and souvenir for kids are part of the package.

When parents hire an entertainer they usually get it from "que la fête commence" or another similar organisation. I have never seen much decoration at any place. The most decorated homes where at British or Americans or canadians places ;-)

Last time we had a party at home, I did everything myself, it didn't take me that long, 3 or 4 evenings to decorate the house, prepare the games, pack the presents etc...

Maybe you can check what your potential competitors do. I am not sure of the market.

Also, being in a international environment, our family is not a good reference for what is generally done in France.

The "passing the parcel game" is when kids are sit in a cercle and pass along a parcel wrapped in multiple layers of paper and when it is decided to stop the kid who holds the parcel unwrap one layer. This is repeated until the surprise is unwrapped. Kids love it.
 

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French Parents crave for anything anglo-saxon with a little time lag. Kids Parties at Mc Dowell restaurants are still extremely popular in France, and not only because flats aer rather small.

the tendency for kids parties is perhaps less exhuberant than in the US or UK, perhaps also less entertaining: no clown, no mime, no story teller, no cup cakes that kids hate but they still eat them coz they are funny.

Of course, a recent interview of a US mom showed that she was baffled how the French were able to entertain kids during parties without little bit of good sense, little appetite for local culture and a bit of space.

Perhaps was she lucky...

As for kids party organisers or suppliers, it would probably work in posh areas such as Paris Western suburbs. Definitely not in Marseille because there parties are every day at the beach and not in Nice where the average citizen is a pensioner. In Paris intra muros, the population is more cosmopolitean and more DINK, more introvertite to the extreme.
 

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Well, my son is 4 so I have been to a few birthday parties lately. My son always gets a little goodie bag and one of those whistle thingies you blow on. The families usually decorate with balloons. Recently the Toulouse en Famille website started providing a birthday idea every Monday morning, and it has included things like a children's farm, a museum, a bouncy castle place. I think people won't spend as much money on this stuff as they do in the US, but it is catching on.

Last year my son asked for a pirate party and I went to Fnac Eveil et Jeux and found decorations, plates, party favors, etc with that theme. They even have pinatas.

Here are a few observations to add to that:

I would say the parties are less extravagant, and French mothers are less likely to stay up all night decorating a Thomas the Tank Engine Cake.

When you throw a birthday party for a child as young as 3, the French mothers will all leave their children with you and go shopping. And despite what recent publications may lead one to believe, French children do throw food.

I think that for it to work you need something a little different - maybe hard-to-find themes. At Carrefour I've found lots of Disney stuff, and the more high-brow toy stores tend to have pirates and princesses but that's about it. It's hard to find Thomas the Tank Engine, Peppa Pig, Charlie and Lola, and other British stuff. Disney is everywhere.

There are a lot of Anglo-American families in France, so you would probably have a market from just them if it's online. I can say that there is currently a high demand for Cadbury creme eggs in the Southwest...and at Christmas everyone was looking for Christmas crackers. So I would maybe consider widening your idea to include all festive things - Halloween costumes and decorations (this is catching on in France but I find much better costumes in the US), cranberries in November, Christmas crackers and all the other things British people get excited about at Christmas, Valentines, etc.

Debra
 
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