What is a Normal Amount to Spend on Child’s Birthday Party?

by TTMK on August 20, 2012 · 6 comments

This is a simple question, and as a result it will make for a simple post. Here it is:

$500 for a birthday?

How much is a reasonable amount to spend on a young child’s birthday party?

Before you answer, I’ll acknowledge that what is reasonable for one person might be different from for another.  Also, it’s each family’s prerogative to do whatever makes them happy, so there may be no right answer.

With that out of the way, allow me to share that I attended a birthday party recently that was for a young kid, with 10 other kids and their parents invited as guests. There were family members there too.  All told, maybe 30 people attended. It was held a kids’ activity center.  The place wasn’t extravagant by any means, but nevertheless, it was a fun time for the kids and neat for the grown-ups as well.

Here is what jumped out at me: I came to find out that when everything was added up, including the party center costs, cake, food, basic party favors, etc – the total came out to around $500.

Does this seem like a lot of money to you? It seemed normal to others when shared with them, and the party itself was quite typical.

It sure does to me.  I realize that it was a long time ago that myself or anybody reading this was young, but I don’t think that even on some inflation adjusted basis, a correspondingly high amount of money was spent on parties.  I haven’t spent that much on my oldest’s parties.

I’m curious what you think about this, and have the following questions:

  • How much do you think is “typical” for a young kid’s birthday party?
  • Did you often, if ever, get a birthday party that was so expensive (relative to cost levels of the day)?
  • Do you think this might be overindulgence, or is this simply the norm these days?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy August 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

That seems like quite a bit of money – I would probably expect to spend $200 (gift, food, cake, party favors and decorations)

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Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals August 20, 2012 at 11:07 am

I spent about $200 for my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, and about $100 for her 3rd (that’s the same amount I spent on my son’s 1st birthday party). We tend to just do a cookout for all our family and friends, and the size of the guest list is the determining factor in how much it costs. I do have friends who have spent $1,000, even $1,500 for a party, though… seems exorbitant to me!

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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland August 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

I don’t know, but the parties I’ve been to have been rather extravagant!

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SavvyFinancialLatina August 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I think I only had an extravagant birthday party when I was 4 and 15. The fifteenth birthday is a huge celebration in the Hispanic world, and this people almost expect you to have a huge party. Honestly, I don’t know how much my parents paid for it. But it was on a low budget. maybe $1K? Not much more. Considering most fifteenth birthday parties range between $10K to $20K, it was nothing.

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad August 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm

$500 for a birthday sounds a little high to me. Like anything, there are party organizers that will be happy to spend your money for you!

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Edward Antrobus August 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm

The most expensive birthday party I ever had probably cost about $50.

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