The average cost of a first birthday party is a little bit eye-watering.

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The jury is hung, in the case of the first birthday party: beautiful ritual, or waste of money and time?

According to the ABC, a ‘no expenses spared’ birthday party for a one-year-old is likely to cost somewhere in the $500-$1000 range. Which sounds like far too much, considering half of the guests can barely eat solids. When you break individual costs down, however, it’s easy to reach that figure pretty quickly.

Custom-designed cake: $150 – $300

Kids’ food: $75 – $100

Adult’s food: $150 – $200

Balloons and decorations: $100 – $150

Children’s entertainer: $200 – $250

Total: $600 – 1000

The bill racks up fast. And that doesn’t even include alcohol, which a lot of families like to include in the celebrations. Or a venue fee.

Gone are the days of the humble Woolies Cake. Birthday cakes are handmade and custom designed with finesse and forethought, a centrepiece for the occasion. Caterers are called in. Magicians are booked. Photographers are hired.

All for a little recipient who will never remember the day.

Listen: Do you really need to put all the effort and money into a first birthday party? Holly Wainwright and Christie Hayes speak to a Mum who has just thrown one, on our podcast for brand new parents. Post continues after audio…

Saengtip Kirk, mother of one-year-old Hugo, has just traversed the ‘First Birthday Party’, and emerged on the other side. Unscathed.

As she tells Holly Wainwright and Christie Hayes on Mamamia‘s Year One podcast, “I booked a little spot in the park… a really nice secluded little spot that didn’t have a lot of wind.


She goes on, “We ended up having a really really good day just at the park, picnic style, having food and playing around.”

Sounds economic, right? Twenty adults, eight one-year-olds. At a park. Picnicing. How much could it possibly be?

“I think the most expensive expense for the birthday was the booking at the park, even though you’re only booking a little bit of a roof and some picnic bench seats,” Kirk says.

“It was $300.”

“Then we spent a bit of money on food for the adults, and some food that was baby appropriate as well.”

The final figure?

“All up it was about $500.”

500 big ones. For some food and benches. That seems to be the rule, rather than the exception.

"All up, it was about $500." Image via iStock.

One user on parenting forum The Bump says, "We'll probably end up somewhere around $400-$500. I think it is also relative to where you live.  We are having 35 people (family only) and having it catered (sandwiches, pasta salads, fruits, beverages).

Food & Drink Cost: $300

Decorations: $50

Picnic Grove Fee: $25

Cakes & Desserts: $100"

Another user echoes the expensive sentiment. "We are totally going overboard and having a sit down lunch at a small venue. I'm guessing around $200-$400 is average though."

How much are you willing to spend on a child's first birthday party?

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