When my son was three we had just moved to Newcastle and knew very few people, so his birthday 'party' that year was very minimalist.
It consisted of a dinner of fish and chips, followed by a homemade rocket cake, and was all washed down with some lemonade. Attending guests were myself, my husband and our two dogs – all decked out in party hats - and games and entertainment came in the form of a pack of matchbox cars and a new DVD.
All up the 'party' was over in about an hour and cost the sum total of around $30. My son had a great time.
When he turned four, things were a bit different. We had all made friends so we had people to invite and I felt somewhat guilty for him missing out the year before. So I outsourced to the local trampoline park and for a slightly higher price he, once again, had the best time ever.
But, I still had a budget. After all, it's easy to get carried away. The little things soon add up, and I was conscious not to be sucked into the 'bigger and better' party vibe that can be bounced around amongst some parents.
But, the question does beckon, how much do you spend on your child's birthday party? Or, more to the point, how much do you consider too much to spend on a child's birthday party?
For me, I probably draw the line at around $200 for a home party, and more if I am outsourcing - depending on the quality of entertainment and just how little I really want to do.
What I wouldn't do is spend more than $500 max – in fact if I did, I think I may have a bit of explaining to do when the credit card bill came in.
So, imagine my horror, when I read that a couple in Perth had spent 100 times that on their little girl, Lauren Lembo's, third birthday party. To say I spat tea out of my nose would be an understatement!
However, this clearly was a party like no other. After all, when was the last time you attended a three-year-old's event where oysters and paella replaced little boys and jelly?
The party, which catered for 200 guests (all of which one can only assume are very close and meaningful to little Lauren), was no place for the unrefined palate. A high tea served included tempura scallops, truffle arancini, pork belly and wood fired pizza, all washed down with Remy Martin Xo cognac.
Entertainment was not provided by the local clown or fairy, nor was it a case of Dad dressing up for the occasion in an ill fitting, barely recognisable character get up. Instead, this little girl was treated to a professional entourage, including none other than a $600 hired Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
And hold your horses if you think for one minute anyone's finger was poised over the Wiggles' best hits soundtrack for musical statues. Because that would be considered, well, quite frankly, a bit childish for this set up.
Instead enter stage left former Australian idol singer, Courtney Murphy, to entertain guests – a mere bargain at the price of $1600. I wonder if Lauren voted for him in the series? Oh no, that's right she wasn't even born at the time… let alone even close to understanding or appreciating celebrities.
But it doesn't end there – as if you thought it might! Photographers were hired to capture the memories of the day at a cost of $3000, and almost $10,000 was spent on a chandelier lined marquee and decorations. Clearly Lauren likes her bling!
It really seems like nothing was too much for this little princess on her special day, and her parents have no shame in admitting exactly how much it cost – a total of $50k.
But is it really necessary? I personally think not. I think that it is an obscene amount of money to spend on a day that the little girl will not really remember, and I think it would be better put towards her future or invested in other more purposeful pursuits.
The focus of a child's birthday party should not be on how lavish it is and how much you spend. Instead, it should be about how much fun the children have and, more to the point, having change in your wallet at the end of it to buy a wine or coffee - because we all know that after kids' parties you definitely need it!