Birthday season

We need to talk about birthday parties.

When it comes to planning kids’ birthday parties these days, there seems to be only one rule: go big or go home.

My relationship with birthday parties was somewhat short lived. :( There was that one time we decided to throw a massive party for Tru and Kirsten in 2012; fast forward 3 years and we’re still recovering from that hangover. We’ve been on a party hiatus ever since because having to plan another party like that requires too much bandwidth, of which I have very limited quantities of these days. And the thought of doing 4 parties a year, that’s just too much madness I can’t even. So I guess you can say that me and birthday parties are kind of on a break. We’re not really speaking right now.

First, let’s get into the cost. For a basic no frills party, we’re talking easily $500 per pop. On the low side. $200 for the food/deserts, $150 for a standard 3D fondant cake, $50 for the decor, $50 for the goodie bags, and $50 for the program (pinata, some basic game props).

Additional something-somethings like a schmancy dessert table, balloon sculptor, magician, game host or marching band will run the bill up by another $300-$500.

And then there are the cool venues. Want to party with the horses (actually just 1 horse!) at Gallop stables? That’s $450 just for the horse and venue. How about a Frozen party (at the ice rink)? Upwards of $350 for a minimum of 10 kids. Indoor playgrounds range from $300-800, depending on the number of kids and general awesomeness of the party.

I love my kids and I’d do a lot to make them smile, including celebrating the heck out of the day they were born. But if I’m blowing $1k on a birthday party per child per year, that’s easily a trip to Melbourne or Tokyo or Maldives. And let’s see, 4 times the madness that is planning a blowout party versus a relaxing trip? Is this even a real question?? And perhaps more importantly, I’m not sure if having a formulaic party just because this is how everyone else does it will make them happier than say, a fun day out with us and a delicious cake that doesn’t have Elsa standing in front of a 3-tiered snow castle.

Kirsten’s birthday is around the corner and she asked if she could have a birthday party this year. Her request was very specific. She wanted to have it at an indoor playground, with a huge Elsa made of ice-cream (??), cake pops (I had to google what a cake pop was), blue and silver balloons, and horses (???).

I told her in the gentlest possible manner, “Ummm, no, sweetie.”

“How about this? I can do the balloons, and you can choose an Elsa cake, and we’ll have fun celebrating with your friends in school. And then we’ll do a special day out just for you – you can choose anywhere that you want to go and we’ll make it happen.”

“Anywhere?? And we can all go, daddy and you and kor kor and Finn Finn and Theo?” she asked, after a while.


She smiled. “Ok, yeah, that would be very super fun.”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

on one of our non-birthday dates

Have I already said that these kids are the best?? Because they are.

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  • Reply Crafty Academic July 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Daphne, I have four kids too, 1 toddler and triplet babies. And I came to the same conclusion about birthday parties. I realise in big families like ours why need all the crowd, when there is already a crowd at home? Put in a birthday cake (I try to make it myself but not this year when I am caring for my babies still), some cheap balloons and games, and its a heck of a birthday party.

  • Reply Pris July 12, 2015 at 5:39 am

    Hey babe
    I don’t live in Singapore anymore, but I’m quite aware of the extent parents go to throw their children the bestest and most expensive parties ever.

    May I intro you to birthday parties in Germany??? Most parties are small. Parents /Moms bake a cake (simple choc cake with deco), there’s finger food (also self-made but doesn’t need to be fancy-schmancy), balloons and children’s take-home presents are ONLY sweets that don’t cost more than 10€.

    Definitely wayyy less stress and less expensive than those in Singapore. Of course it’s quite a bit of work, cos a lot of things are DIY, but the general consensus is simple, smaller parties are more the norm here.

    So don’t feel bad that you’re on a break with birthday parties. I had big parties for my first boy and my second boy had a combined birthday party with his bro for his 1st bday and his 2nd party is only gonna be immediate family with in-laws and godparents.

  • Reply Jane July 13, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    My sentiments exactly! That amount of money will be much better spent on a holiday for the family.

    I’ve never had a birthday party for my boys and they know not to expect one. But I do allow them to celebrate in school very cheaply. There’s a S$50 budget and they have to decide if they want to blow it on food or goody bags.

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