Coin Toss

Party Line

Your child is cordially invited to dress up as a movie star and attend a mock Academy Awards ceremony. There will be a cake in the shape of Oscar. There will be mini Oscar party favors. There will even be a red carpet on which to make an entrance.

An elaborate practical joke? Hardly. In fact, kids these days are being treated to lavish theme parties that seem to be the best thing to happen to childhood since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "In the old days, it used to be that girls had the pink parties and boys had the blue parties," observes Trisha Drain, editor in chief and associate publisher of the monthly trade publication Party & Paper Retailer. "It's way beyond that now."

So it is. Doting parents, spurred on by the example of other doting parents, are going so far as to rent old mansions and host "Clue" parties for their youngsters. It's memorable--and perhaps, in a way, even simple. "It's much easier for parents to accessorize [with theme parties]," says Drain, "and it makes it a lot more fun for the kids."

Of course, such demand for themes makes it all the more important for retailers to stock the right merchandise. "You have to carry accessories for a variety of themes," notes Drain, "and give customers ideas on what themes to have." Well, there's always that Academy Awards theme. . . .

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Coin Toss.

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