Parenting Budget : Children’s Birthday Parties
Just 2 months ago, ChubbHubs attended the birthday party of a five year old at the Raffles Hotel. It took up the entire Courtyard and was Paddington-themed. There were blue and white cupcakes with the bear printed on the top, jars of marmalade jellies, little leather suitcases packed with goodies as take-home party favours and to top it off – a huge 4-layered birthday cake.
Different activity areas had been set up for the different age groups of children who had been invited. There was face-painting, a clown with a propensity for balloon animals, a bouncy castle and a craft corner.
200 guests attended the party. Needless to say, the cost of the birthday party was nothing to sniff at.
Another party we attended for a two-year-old had chosen Princess Anna from Frozen as its theme. There were the ever-popular cupcakes with Anna’s face emblazoned on them, macaroons with faux snowflakes, bottled water with special labels, boxes of heart-shaped multicoloured jellies for guests to remember the party by and a lovely purple cake that had Anne and Olaf all over it.
Again, the venue had been specially booked out for the party which saw 70 attendees.
When our little boy turned one last year, we had decided to keep it a family affair. By family affair, I mean the entire extended clan we have totalling 33 cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. And because of the age groups we had to cater to, we made a simple sit-down lunch at Min Jiang@one-north. Three tables set us back by three grand, while the rainbow layered cake covered in salted caramel buttercream and decorated with a fondant Elmo cost $285 from NOM Bistro.
This year, Bubs is turning two in three weeks and I have decided not to hold a party.
Is turning two less of a milestone than turning one? No.
Have we suddenly decided to become antisocial? No.
But amidst the rush of planning for his second birthday which falls at the end of October, I gave up. I started researching venues at the beginning of June. Birthday cakes were the next on the list because the really popular artisan bakers and cake shoppes had waiting lists and baking orders made at least a month in advance. Did we want Thomas the Tank Engine? Or would Lightning McQueen be a better choice? Was Bubs beginning to like Pooh Bear a lot more? Should we have Pooh Bear instead? Fresh cream or buttercream? Fondant or hand-drawn?
Then there was the guest list. And the party favours.
And my dwindling bank account.
Parenting Budget : Increased Spending on Kid’s Birthday Parties
Parents have started spending an increasing amount on their children’s birthday parties, and this has not gone below the radar. Asiaone ran an article in January 2014 and noted that the average cost of a child’s birthday do cost between $400 – $800 with some parents splashing up to $1,500. A year later, Yahoo SG published a follow-up article on the lavish parties parents are throwing when their children turn one where children’s part planner, Low Hui Min, 35, estimated at least three parties she has organized which had budgets upwards of $4,000.
Play gyms around the island have birthday packages and themed parties as part of their pricelist. Amazonia at Great World City has 2 party rooms which can be booked jointly to accommodate up to 40 children. Packages start at $888 inclusive of GST for 15 children. The Classic Package consists of the following:
- Amazonia invitation cards
- Amazonia stickers
- Decorated birthday room
- Amazonia balloons
- Party Host
- Free trial vouchers for an hours & party pictures
Each additional child is billed at $43.50.
The most expensive package it has is the Science Party coming in at $1,669.59 inclusive of GST for the same number of children. For every extra child attendee, $54.20 will be added to the bill.
The City at Liang Court offers three party packages, each of which charges different rates for weekdays and weekends. The cheapest is $550 for the weekdays catering to 15 children, while the costliest is $2,000 on weekends and public holidays accommodating up to 42 children. All packages come with added options such as face painting and balloon sculpting. Additional children are charged between $30 – $45 depending on the package chosen.
And these are just two play gyms which have jumped on the bandwagon. Pollywogs, Fidget City, Hokey Pokey and Happy Willow are other examples of play gyms which have started offering party packages, whipping doting parents into a frenzy over choosing the right place and the right theme.
Parenting Budget : Are over-the-top birthday celebrations really necessary?
The voice of reason came in the form of Ms. Tee Hun Ching writing for the Straits Times. In her article, she exonerated the benefits of her children attending a birthday party which was held at home, had a cake, home-cooked food and games for 14 children. There was no special venue, no fancy theme, bouncy castle, face painting, balloon sculpting clown or catered themed food. The children loved it.
This viewpoint which appeared in the newspapers in August, served as a wake-up call for me. Bubs’ birthday wasn’t supposed to be used as a showboat for how much we love him based on how much we’re willing to spend on him. We shouldn’t need a themed party and a roomful of people he didn’t know or wasn’t close to, to make him happy. All he really wanted was to spend time with us.
And all we really wanted to do, was to make up for all those mornings we left for work without reading him his favourite book, without making him his special breakfast or without playing peekaboo because we had to go.
We can’t use a birthday bash to make-up for lost moments. The amount of money we spend and the things that we buy or arrange to make his birthday special might impress other parents, but to a two year old child – he wouldn’t even remember it by the time he turns three.
So for this year, we are taking a holiday. Just the three of us. ChubbHubs, Bubs and me. We will spend every moment together with his favourite books and his favourite toys, doing his favourite thing: spending time with Papa and Mama.
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