Party pooped: Are we spending too much on our kids’ birthday parties?

Can you put a price tag on a child?

For most parents, the obvious answer would be a definitive “No”.

Okay, how about this one . . . Can you put a price tag on a child’s birthday party?


But how much exactly?




Fine and dandy.


Forget it.


Are you flipping kidding me?!

Oh, but it doesn’t end there.

“We’ve done parties for $6000, $8000 or up to $10,000,” said Alexandra Shaw, co-owner of events company The Inspired Occasion.1

$10,000?! What? How? Why?

“People are always going to want the best for their children,” added Ms Shaw.

Okay, that’s fair enough. There is nothing wrong with parents going all out for their kids. “Each to their own” and all that.

The issue with extravagant parties is when parents use them to show off to other parents, thus making the child’s special day an afterthought.

“I think a lot of parties have become more about what is presented for the parents rather than the kids,” says Sydney mum Melissa Flasza.2

Balloon artist and decoration supplier Teigan Dennis concurs.3

“If parents have just been to a party that had farm animals and a jumping castle, when it’s their kid’s birthday they feel like they need to match it, because that’s the going thing.”

Really? Are some parents so petty that they have to use their kids’ birthday celebrations as an excuse to outdo one another?

In an episode of Modern Family, Phil and Claire Dunphy throw their son Luke an extravagant birthday party, featuring a jumping castle, zip line and rock climbing wall. In the end, after a chain reaction of disasters, Luke ends up breaking his arm (after slipping on some beads, of all things).

Later at the hospital, Luke tells his family he had “the best birthday ever” because he got a plaster cast.

“I’ve always wanted one,” he says, to the bewilderment of everyone else.

A voiceover from Phil concludes the episode: “One way or another, Luke was the centre of attention on his birthday, and the whole family was together.

“Just like it should be.”

Planning a party for your kid? Spend what you will. Just remember it’s about showering your child with love, not showing off to your guests.

—Linden Chuang


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