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Birthday parties for kids have come a long way from fairy bread, paper plates and a simple game of pin the tail on the donkey. Now there is a growing trend in Australia for blow-the-budget events to mark even the youngest child’s special day.

WORDS Louise Oswald PHOTOS Leanna Stamatellos

When cheeky Kingston Rossdale turned four, his rock star parents Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale made sure it was a lavish affair by importing a bouncy castle, two superheroes, three birds, a balloon artist and a face painter to their Hollywood mansion. 100 party guests including fellow celeb parents David and Victoria Beckham and Kate Beckinsale wished the lucky little boy a happy birthday and the bill for entertainment alone came to $15,000.

Not to be outdone, when Suri Cruise turned two, her parents Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes threw a spectacular birthday event that made headlines around the world. There was a reported $100,000 bill so the Tinseltown princess could blow out the candles on her four-tiered polka dot cake while 1000 butterflies filled the room.

But it isn’t just the celebs. New Yorkers have pioneered the big spend, some splashing out $25,000 renting a luxury toy store like Manhattan’s FAO Schwarz for a slumber party. The trend has now stretched to Australia where doting parents can bring the wonder of a theme park to their home at a cost of up to $20,000, pitch a fairy-filled marquee or rent a stretch Hummer limo.

Main image: Mary Poppins party by Sharnel Dollar
Above: Wild West party by Sharnel Dollar

"The Tinseltown princess blew out the candles on her four-tiered polka dot cake while 1000 butterflies filled the room."

The demand is for interactive, child-led experiences rather than a show the kids sit and watch.

This is why the girl’s party of the moment is a decadent spa experience. Premium party planner Sharnel Dollar creates an in-home version. It features two to three therapists, invitations done as gift tokens, personalised robes, a spa menu with oat and apricot masks made by the girls, plus sushi and fruit salad dipped in a chocolate fountain to nibble on. She says: “We advise the girls on skin care and why drinking water, being sun smart and eating healthily are the best ways to prevent aging.”

She goes on to explain, “I like to take the kids into another world. Why not spend the money? You want to create extraordinary memories and celebrate them.”

Boys certainly aren’t left out. Olivia’s younger brother William celebrated his 5th birthday with $3500’s worth of the Wild West, including a saloon set in their back yard complete with bales of hay, a windmill, whip cracking lessons and a shooting gallery.

But it seems the rise of shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules has sparked an increase in kids’ cooking parties for boys.

Susan Yarrow from Gourmet Kids says 10-year old mini chefs are whipping up chocolate and vanilla marble cake in a move away from the traditional park or pool party. Susan says: “Parents are totally immersing themselves in planning and colour coding, inviting lots of friends, spending more than $1000 a party and making it an event once reserved for an 18th or 21st.”

images courtesy of Sharnel Dollar Designs

Some new ideas for your little one’s next party:

A stretch Hummer party including city tour and karaoke run by Impressive Limousines. Prices run from around $900.

A marquee party by Partee Petite based in Queensland. Your choice of themes including aquatic, garden party, disco and more. Prices stretch from $495 for a basic mini marquee to $3000 for a bespoke package.

A private outdoor movie screening created by Outdoor Movies. Prices start at $550 for a 4ft high screen which will be installed in your garden by a projectionist.

Cupcakes and Pony: Mary Poppins party by Sharnel Dollar

Indeed the sky is the limit, agrees James Kemp of Carnival Land. His business is making the fairground a birthday event and a Brisbane couple recently wanted the works for their 12-year-old daughter. They wrote a cheque for $20,000 to prove it.

James recalls “They wanted everything including a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, dodgem track, slippery slide and sideshow attractions like shooting gallery, laughing clowns and wacky mirrors.” Also popular is the mobile farm which includes calves, sheep, chickens, pigs, and a pony can be arranged for guided walks around the front garden.

With 20 years in the business, kids’ event planner Lana Latimer says a family party concierge is becoming de rigueur in Australia.

Lana, who runs Melbourne-based 3D parties, says: “The average spend for a luxury party is $2-3000 and a lot of my events are repeat business. I have clients who are like family - I did their child’s fourth birthday and now I’m organising the 16th.”

Catering boss Jenny Williams, who for eight years has hired Lana to create her only child’s birthday events, believes the money is well spent because it is annual treat for family and friends. She says: “On Chloe’s 6th birthday we spent $5000 on a storybook theme party but we normally spend about $3000. Lana does what we need doing and it’s worth every cent.”

Info: Sharnel Dollar 

  Partee Petite

 Outdoor Parties

 Gourmet Kids

 Carnival Land

 3D Parties

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