For some of us, the entire concept was horrifying. The notion of primped and preened little madams stalking around a spa, barking orders at the poor staff – who are unable to tell the cheeky mites to pipe down, even through a radiant smile and gritted gnashers – was just too much to bear. And that was before the vision of an adult kneeling at a child’s foot to do a pedicure drifted into our minds…
Besides, beauty treatments, be they express manicures or full-on massage ‘experiences’, are surely the sole domain of grown-ups. It’s the one chance we get to escape the little toe rags, close our eyes and pretend for one blissful, guilty moment that we’re young, free and single once more. The fact that this is generally brought to an abrupt end by a text message announcing that little Timmy has wet himself again is neither here nor there.
Suzy, a mum from Palm Jumeirah, agrees. ‘When my daughter was invited to a manicure party, I nearly died,’ she says. ‘In the end I pushed my own feelings of distaste to one side and let her go. Now every time we walk past the salon, she asks to go in there – and she’s four!’
But not everyone is so alarmed by this trend: in our team’s afore-mentioned debate, a smaller but no-less-vociferous contingent from our office was positively thrilled at the idea. After all, what’s the harm in painting a little girl’s nails if it makes her happy and shuts her up for 20 minutes?
We’re living in a city where ‘Annoying Alphamums’ have the world (literally, if we’re talking islands) at their fingertips – where, if they have the money and foolish inclination, it’s perfectly possible to spend millions of dirhams on an all-singing, all-dancing birthday extravaganza, complete with diamond-encrusted party bags. For those of us with more sense (and less cash), the desire to trump their OTT efforts can become an all-consuming obsession. The emergence of the manicure party, with its heavenly combination of making the kids feel like princesses while getting them off your hands and leaving the house unscathed, gives mums a much-deserved break and a perfect ready-made solution.
‘My daughter had a manicure party for her ninth birthday, and her little brother wanted to go too. He was only six and we didn’t see the harm,’ says Julie, from Umm Suqeim. ‘The only problem was, he enjoyed it so much that he wanted to do the same for his birthday! We had to ignore our guilt about being sexist and explain to him that it might not go down too well with his classmates,’ she laughs.
The girls in our picture certainly don’t look like they have any qualms about enjoying the princess lifestyle. They were beautifying at what has to be the jewel in the spa parties’ crown: Color Nail (04 341 8848), at Times Square Centre. For Dhs130 per child, a team of therapists will be at the party-goers’ beck and call for two hours, and, despite the company name, manicures and pedicures are just the tip of the iceberg in this glamorous event. They can also have their hair braided and get glittering temporary tattoos while watching High School Musical (what else?).
The cost even includes party bags and decorations – you can’t say fairer, or easier, than that. Or, for a home-based experience, Brush & Co (04 430 8465), who offer mini-manis/pedis for Dhs40 per child, will come to you. If you decide to throw caution to the wind and go the whole hog, give Bliss Reflexology (04 286 9444) a call. They offer 15-minute soft aromatherapy massages to kids aged seven and above, with a three-hour party for 12 children costing Dhs900.
Just make sure that if they develop PSA (Premature Spa Addiction), daddy’s credit card, not yours, suffers the multi-coloured, lacquered brunt of it.