Ballpark Estimate: $500 to $100,000
When it comes to planning a children’s birthday party, it used to be enough to invite the neighborhood children over for homemade cup cakes and a plan game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey to commemorate the passing of another year. But over the past decade, the traditions have been changing, fueled by some particularly ambitious parents who are bent on planning the most elaborate – and also most expensive — events for even the very youngest celebrants.
For celebrity baby Suri Cruise’s second birthday recently, her well-known parents, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, spent a whopping $100,000 for a butterfly-themed party. While such an investment may be out of most people’s league, stories abound in newspapers, magazines, parenting blogs and cultural websites about people who spend large amounts of money and time on their children’s parties each year. Some of the parents go so far as to invest the cost of a luxury car on a one-day children’s event and to hire professional event planners to help coordinate all of the many details.
Set to Impress
For about $250 or less, you can have a first-class party for kids with all pizza, cake and some kind of activities and/or entertainment that will please the birthday child and his or her guests. So why are parent feeling pressured to fork over four, ten or even twenty times this amount to celebrate the special day? In some circles, children’s birthday parties have become all-important social events, so parents feel pressured to top their neighbors and friends by coming up with new and impressive details that get big and better every year. Even in a tight economy with gas prices skyrocketing, some parents say that they feel their children deserve their turn in the limelight and are determined to spare no expense to provide this type of excess.
The Sky Is the Limit
When money is no problem, with a little hard work, or better yet, the help of a professional children’s party planner, you can turn anything you can imagine into a reality. If you live in California but your child wants a sledding party, consider getting a set designer to help transform your yard with fake snow, ice and snowmen. Or bring the wonder of a zoo into your home for a modest investment. And if the theater strikes a chord with your child, you can hire professional actors put on a live show for your private audience.
These are just a few of things that parents around the country are putting into action to celebrate their children’s specialness. Other popular kids’ party options today include renting a room at a fancy hotel such as the Ritz Carlton, offering horse drawn carriage rides for children, picking up and delivering young guests in a limousine, and renting carnival equipment and favorite characters to turn your home into a mini-theme park.
The cost for these activities varies a great deal, depending on where you live, exactly what you want and how many children you will be including. But high-end party planners say that such extravagance doesn’t come cheap.
High-End Events for the Littlest Guests
With so many choices available, there is something available for every price range and for every child’s taste. For under $1,000, you can to throw a one-of-a-kind of party that most boys and girls can only dream about, or if you prefer, go all out and invest up to $50,000 or more to entertain on the very grandest scale. Most of the highest-end venues will custom design a party to your specifications, so whatever whim you or your child has can be worked into the equation.
Here is a closer look at some of the most unusual and extravagant parties recently held for some lucky kids:
Fit for a Princess
Most little girls love to dress up as a princess. On the Upper East Side in New York, one company there lets you take this concept a step further and also treat your guests to princess etiquette lessons. Participants also enjoy a tea party set with the finest pink china and crystal chandeliers.
Or, if you have more money to invest, one creative mother recently hired an actress dressed as Cinderella to hand-deliver the invitations and serenade her guests. In addition, her version of a princess party included 12 princess hostesses, a horse drawn carriage and the characters of Alice and Wonderland to entertain guests. To plan such similar extravagance, you might want to contact a local party planner for help pulling it all together.
This royal tea party is a bargain, starting at a modest fee of $500 or less for a minimum of 10 guests. To the other extreme, though, the mother hosting the more elaborate princess character event spent $10,000 (including $4,500 on 12-foot balloon sculptures of the Little Mermaid).
Throw a Magical Bash
You can host a Harry Potter bash with robes and wands provided for your guests and cauldrons of candy. Consider hiring an acting cast to dress as instructors and wizards, so you can truly capture the feel of witchcraft and wizardry. Also plan to splurge on lots of wizardly accessories and decorations to transform your home into a realistic setting. To find actors who might be willing to help you with this goal, you can search online or check with local theater groups.
The cost for such an all-out event can run about $5,000, according to one parent who is such a Harry Potter fan that she even hired a medium to go into a trance and had a monster scare guests.
Host a Private Screening
You can turn your backyard into your own drive-in theater with a 40 foot by 60 foot outdoor movie screen advertised on Bornrich that you can buy and use for numerous occasions. Invite a group of friends to watch your child’s favorite movie.
The screen sells for $10,000 through, plus you’ll probably want to budget another thousand or two to cover a projector, movie, snacks and seats. (You may also be able to rent something similar at area party rental stores.)
The FAO Schwarz Fantasy Sleepover
If you can afford to indulge your child’s deepest wish, you just may find yourself writing a large check to FAO Schwarz, the luxury toy seller that has locations in New York City, Las Vegas and Chicago. Parents can “rent” the decadent setting for one night to pamper their child and a handful of lucky guests with access to unlimited toys, games, candy and entertainment. The attendees also each receive a $100 gift card to spend before they leave the next morning. To find out more about FAO Schwarz parties, you can call or visit the New York store or check out the 2007 holiday gift catalogue.
The price for this dream slumber party starts at $25,000 and night book up quickly, so parents should reserve their date well in advance.
Suri Cruise’s extravagant butterfly-themed second birthday party was held at a Mediterranean Villa in the Hollywood Hills, according to media reports. While her parents spared no expense for the event, it was also said to be a somewhat low-keyed occasion.
The $100,000 price tag was rumored to include $17,000 on fresh flowers, $45,000 on catering, and $5,000 on a four-tier cake and 24 cupcakes. The rest of the budget may have gone for entertainment, decorations and goodie bags for guests.
Other Options Worth Noting
- In some cities, you can host your party at a museum for about $1,500. Call your favorite museum to find out what they offer.
- A birthday character brunch at the Four Seasons hotel runs about $4,000. Ask at your nearest location for more details.
- Madison Square Garden in New York City rents space for events starting at under $10,000.
- One bakery that specializes in unique delicacies even makes a Candyland cake that sells for $6,000 and is sure to be the hit of any event. Ask a local bakery to do something similar to compliment the theme of your event.
While some parents who can afford it are happy to go all out for their children, other parents fear that splurging like this on a party is setting the wrong example for kids. To help counter some of the competition that exists in today’s culture when it comes to hosting birthday events, some parents in Minnesota recently started a national group called “Birthdays Without Pressure” that encourages parents not to feel pressured to go overboard on their child’s events and not to feel guilty about it.