Thursday, July 18, 2013

Party like it's 1999...or is that the number of kids? - São Paulo

The Buffet. It's a Brazilian cultural phenomenon. No, I'm not talking about Red Lobster on a Friday night. I'm talking about kids' birthday parties at the "Buffet Infantil". Since we arrived in São Paulo five years ago, we have been invited to countless of these parties, though we have never hosted one ourselves. While it is a great time to meet and talk with parents, there is also a high percentage of kids who come accompanied only by their nannies. Not so interesting.

Here's how it goes.

1. Rent buffet. You can choose between Spasso at the top end (pictured above) with NASA themed ride (!!??!!), three story play structure, indoor roller coaster, inside boat pool, stage and discoteque, or perhaps a "non-video game" place that may have themes of Brazilian native peoples or maybe looks like your own backyard.  "La No Quintal" (there in the yard) used to be THE place for their former school's kids. In a three week period when they were 3, we went to 5 parties there). You select based on how many people, how much you want to spend, also which neighborhood you live in or work in.

2. Invite X number of people where X is the number of kids in their classroom, your family and closest friends. And their kids. And their nannies. And then realize that you will actually get X + 500 people because everyone brings the siblings, the nannies, the cousins, etc. for the party.

3. Pay for a cake table. This is the weirdest phenomenon ever in Brazil. Apologies to my Brazilian friends who may possibly never invite me again to their parties, but paying $300 US to have a themed table where you place sweets and the cake is really bizarre. Say your kid likes dinosaurs. You would pay for a cake table that would have plastic or styrofoam dinosaurs, some safari-looking forests, fake grass and a big poster of dinosaurs behind it. The price is without the cake and sweets.  Now I do this at home at our parties for the boys but simply grab dinosaurs off Nico's shelves, throw down a green tablecloth and grab some weeds from the back yard. Done.

4. It's party day. Eat cardboard pizzas, flat soda pop and chat with the nannies. Ah, often kids' parties also include beer. This is strange for a kids' party but I got used to it and actually have been known to complain if the beer brand is not my favorite. I am my own worst enemy.

5. Sing happy birthday. Get tons of presents for your kids which will be duplicated and you will have to run all over the city to return within the established 30 days (that is definitely the subject of another post--return policies in Brazil). Pay up. Get your car from the valet parking.

The best part? You don't have the clean up!


  1. Maybe you can start a nannies' union. Unions are very profitable in Brazil.

    1. Not sure I need too (or that this was the point of my blog post). They're pretty well protected by law in Brazil, as of a few months ago.

      Unions can be profitable everywhere in the world.