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Over-the-Top Birthday Parties

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Momlogic's Julie: I finally got invited to one of those extravagant birthday bashes I keep reading about.


Suri Cruise was thrown a $100,000 birthday bash to celebrate her 2nd birthday. The same day, CNN ran a piece about the high-dollar birthday parties that even everyday parents are throwing for their kids.

Although I love reading about these lavish affairs, and I'm wildly addicted to MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen, I'd never actually been to a party like this myself. Damn! All my friends just throw typical McDonalds or Build-a-Bear parties. I was secretly jealous of the people who get to attend such gala events.

My dream came true this weekend when a friend invited me to his daughters' circus-themed party in Los Angeles. The girls were turning 5 and 3, and their parents pulled out all the stops. The father was decked out as ringmaster and the mother was dressed as a circus showgirl, complete with fishnets and black feather headdress. (Work it, Mama!)

There were five different food vendors (serving chicken nuggets, french fries, grilled cheese, popcorn and corn dogs, respectively), a salad and fruit bar, cotton candy station, a bartender, two jumpies, a face painter, clowns, and a balloon-animal artist.

But the highlight of the event was definitely the elephant rides. Yes, you read that right--elephant rides on a real live elephant. There was even a circus show, where the elephant bowed, curtsied, and played harmonica.

To top off the event, the lucky guests were served a 4-tier birthday cake decorated like a big top--more lavish than most wedding cakes (and tastier, too). Kids were served milk in "big top" sippy cups. And, of course, everyone received an awesome goody bag.

When asked what motivated her to throw such an extravagant birthday bash, the birthday girls' Mom (a successful lawyer) said, "I have no hobbies. I live for my kids and my entire life revolves around family and work, leaving no time for extracurriculars: I don't go to the gym, I don't belong to any clubs or groups, I almost never get to travel, and I never read for pleasure. So throwing parties is my only hobby, and I tend to go overboard because I throw myself into it. What motivates me is the looks on my kids' faces and the joy it brings them--it's a rush!"

It was a rush just being invited, too. I just hope my own children didn't get any ideas. (There won't be an elephant at your next party, kids, but there will be a giant rat--named Chuck E. Cheese.)

What's your idea of the perfect kids' birthday party? 

Click on an image to view the Over the Big Top Birthday Party Gallery!

next: Kanye West Makes a Mom Cry
28 comments so far | Post a comment now
April April 24, 2008, 12:49 PM

I have to say that Mom really goes all out for her kids. If I had the money, I’d do it too. What a party! I really wish I was invited. Those are two lucky girls.

My idea of the perfect kids birthday party is an event where the kids AND parents have fun. If I go to one more Chuck E Cheese party I will kill myself. That’s like being in hell on a Saturday afternoon. That’s why I send kudos to these parents for throwing a party that is different and memorable.

Anonymous April 24, 2008, 3:39 PM

seriously? what a waste. it’s totally their call what to do for their kids… but how do you top that next year? good luck to those girls’ husbands… like they’ll ever be able to please them.

Anonymous April 24, 2008, 5:29 PM

I think if you have the money, go for it!

JoLynn April 24, 2008, 6:19 PM

If I made 50,000 a year, and I spend $500 on my kid’s party, that’s 1% of my earnings, right? No one says a thing. But if someone makes a million a year and they spend 1% of their earnings (or way more if you’re Tom Cruise) on a party ($10,000), they get criticized. It’s all relative.

Nanette April 24, 2008, 10:31 PM

kids that young are satisfied with very simple things and can’t understand the difference between a $500 party and a $50,000 party. In my opinion it’s a complete waste to spend that much money on a party that won’t be appreciated (or even remembered)by its honorees.

Wish I were Ethel!!! April 24, 2008, 11:04 PM

Reminds me of that “I Love Lucy” episode when she dresses as Superman for Little Ricky’s birthday! Guess that makes her “The Lucy” and the kids Dad “The Ricky” and I bet all her friends are the Ethels!!!!
Any Mom who puts her family first and her kids are her hobby is an “A” List Mom in my book. It’s their money, they earned it. Good for them for having some fun and including others in it!

Ethel April 24, 2008, 11:13 PM

Reminds me of that “I Love Lucy” episode when she dresses as Superman for Little Ricky’s birthday! Guess that makes her “The Lucy” and the kids Dad “The Ricky” and I bet all her friends are the Ethels!!!!
Any Mom who puts her family first and her kids are her hobby is an “A” List Mom in my book. It’s their money, they earned it. Good for them for having some fun and including others in it!

Andrea G. April 24, 2008, 11:47 PM

Are you kidding me? Even if I had 100 grand I SURE AS HELL wouldn’t WASTE it on an elaborate party for my child! I would do anything for my son, EXCEPT show him how to be frivolous with $! Parents who go way over the top like that are sending the wrong message about $ and shouldn’t expect their kids to appreciate anything! It makes me sick. Why don’t they just give the money away to a good cause or feed the homeless……ect! What a JOKE!!!!!

christina  April 24, 2008, 11:50 PM

Me and my daughter Elle went to the party and she had the best time and still talks about it…I loved the party as much as Elle did and I thought it was a great idea it brought a closer feeling for the school and all the teachers came too. If I had the money and inspiration I would have done the same thing!! Great party!!

Christina  April 24, 2008, 11:56 PM

Me and my daughter Elle had the most amazing time at this party!!! What a way to bring a school closer together with all the kids and teachers there! I love that you guys did the party we had a blast!!! I wish I had the inspiration and funds to do a party like that! very creative! Thank you!

Anonymous April 25, 2008, 12:42 AM

I know this family too, and they are far from hoity toity. The mom still drives the same ‘89 Jeep that she got in ‘93. They are so down to earth. She doesn’t just do birthday parties, she puts that kind of attention to detail in each of her parties, and is always the first in line to volunteer to throw the best baby or bridal shower you’ve ever been to. She really does have no other hobbies. The kids are too young to appreciate the expense, but are old enough to appreciate the love that went into it and the fun that they had. I don’t care how young they are, they will NEVER forget this party! And if mom and dad would rather spend their money on a fabulous party for their kids than on fancy cars, I’d say they have their priorities straight.

Susie April 25, 2008, 2:55 AM

What a wonderful treat to be invited to such a great birthday bash. Not to mention to get to ride an elephant in the middle of Los Angeles; what more could the young and young at heart ask for! Loved it.

DH April 25, 2008, 10:12 AM

I had a great time at this party and I even told my students about the party the following week. Even though I teach at a high school, these students thought it was so cool that the parents put so much into the party … and they weren’t talking just about the money. So you can throw a party in the backyard and buy all the same food served at this party, but while the kids play are you sitting on a chair talking to the other parents? At the party for these two girls, the parents of the two girls were there playing with the kids and their friends, and so were the other parents. Those kids will remember that. Kids do. At a very young age, kids do not know about money and how MUCH mommy and daddy make. They do remember whether mommy and daddy spent time with them. This mommy and daddy love to spend time with their kids … and as a high school student would say, “Don’t hate!”

Bubbles April 25, 2008, 11:15 AM

This mom clearly pulled out all the stops for this party, but she’s getting criticized for the “wastefulness”. I;m not doubting her good intentions, but why doesn’t she make her next “bash” a fundraiser for her daughter’s school or some local charity? She also could have asked that guests make donations instead of bringing gifts (honestly, did you see the pile of gifts on the photo page? Who has the room for all those or time to play with them?)Another idea would have been to invite a group of underprivileged children to attend. Mom would get all the accolades she deserves (and obviously wants/needs). Who could possibly criticize a party that’s serving the greater good?

U NO ME April 25, 2008, 12:51 PM

I have known them for over twenty years. We took a clue from the mom’s parents and we give a giant bash for 200 people every year. This isn’t to show off but to join with family and friends, some of whom we only see this one time. That’s what these parties are really for—an opportunity for those special people in our lives to stay connected.

Anonymous April 25, 2008, 3:43 PM

I asked the mom what the girls needed for their birthday, and she said they didn’t need anything. She confessed that if she thoght she could get away with it, she would have put on the invitation: “Please no gifts.” She said a $5 contribution to the girls’ college fund would be the best gift she could think of. Great parties and practical!

Anonymous April 25, 2008, 9:10 PM

The assumption is that she doesn’t or didn’t do anything for charity. I know for a fact that this family has been there for people in the best and worst of times, so if they decide to have a little fun…. kudos! And the fact that they could have kept this down to 30 people, but chose to be inclusive of everyone around them rather than exclusive, at their own expense, is great. Hmmm, how nice that they did not judge others and did extend a friendly invitation to everyone so no child felt left out. I know lots of parents who invite children based on a “who’s who” popularity list. This family doesn’t judge anyone, they are so kind, so let’s not jump to conclusions and stereotypes about them.

I know these kids and they are so sweet, well mannered and extremely kind… she’s doing a whole hell of a lot of good parenting so let’s not put a price tag on it. Their money, their budget, her hobby… hats off!!! They owe no one but themselves a reason as to what kind of a party they throw.

Donna Rayfield April 26, 2008, 12:22 AM

This was by far her best party yet. She puts her heart and soul into making sure that not only do her children have a great time, she always makes sure her guests are comfortable as well. She doesn’t travel and I know this because I am her cousin. She works everyday (and most Saturdays) so it’s no one’s place to judge what she spends her time or money on. Especially when she’s spending it on HER kids.

For those posting negative comments such as “her kids husbands will never be able to compete”, sure they will. Giving your child a special birthday party with an elephant ride, etc. does not make them spoiled brats. Perhaps it makes you bitter little pills instead! :)


Kim April 27, 2008, 8:34 AM

In the end, what in life really mattered? What will we regret?

I am not old yet but i can sense that there is something huge to be said for living life to its fullest. Yet i can see that there are few people who actually do this. Myself included.

This mom has always made a practice of making every moment count for herself and for those lucky enough to tag along for the ride. Many times over the past nearly 25 years of friendship (long before she had any money to spend on lavish parties) I have realized that if this mom were to die “today,” she would have lived a life fuller than most 80 year olds. How many of us can say this for ourselves?

What she teaches her friends is what she teaches her children, that the focus is neither about being frugal nor extravagant with money. In fact, the goal is not about money at all. The goal is to live a memorable and enriched life. Once that goal has been established, then the rest is simple, produce the money to pay for it.

As Rich Dad Poor Dad’s Robert Kiyosaki asks, do you teach your children to close their minds by telling them that things are “too expensive” or do you teach them to open their minds by asking “that is expensive, what is your plan to earn the money to buy it?”

And as Grandpa asks his grandson in the movie Willie Wanka when the boy decides to sell his ticket to the highest bidder to help his impoverished family pay bills: “Charlie, money is everywhere - they print more of it everyday. But there are only 5 Golden Tickets in the entire world. Why would you trade a Golden Ticket for something as common as money?”

This is a good question. And i bet this mom’s answer would be something along the lines of, “that would be a damn stupid thing to do!”

All i can say is that this mom knows the intrinsic value of a day at the chocolate factory… Do you?

Kika April 30, 2008, 12:16 AM

I’m a teacher at the girls school and was invited to attend this amazing birthday party. I was honored to be included and admired the fact that our entire school and family members were welcome. Don’t make this about money…Make it about what it was…LOVE!FUN!FAMILY! & FRIENDS!!!

Had a wonderful time! Thanks!

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