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Dad Is Glad He Spent $39K on Daughter's Birthday Party

The Short of It

You may have thought you spent a lot of money on your kid's last birthday party—but it was probably nothing compared to the $39,000 Australian couple Eric Lembo and Trang Nguyen spent on their 3-year-old daughter Lauren. And despite criticism, Eric says he'd do it all over again.

The Lowdown

Perth Australia's Now Sunday Times reported that the couple went all out for the party, hiring an Australian Idol contestant to perform for their 220 guests (about 50 of whom were kids) and serving an upscale menu of tempura scallops, truffle arancini, pork belly, paella, wood fired pizza and oysters. They spent an estimated $50,000 in Australian currency, which exchanges to about $39,000 in U.S. dollars.

After the story was posted on the news site's Facebook page, it received almost 2,500 comments. People said spending so much money on the little girl's bash was "wasteful" and "vulgar."

But Lembo was unapologetic. He's the owner of the Caversham House, the riverfront reception center where the party was held and says he got deals on some aspects of the party, and it's only natural for him to plan big events because of his line of work. Plus, it was a family event.

"The Italian and the Vietnamese cultures have a large first birthday so we decided to do it for her second and third birthday as well," Lembo told Perth Now. "It has really become a party, not just for Lauren, but for all of my family and friends to get together. That's very important to me."

He also defended himself against those who said the money would have been better spent giving to the needy, saying he's organized free events in the name of charity.

The Upshot

While I don't know how justifiable the price tag is, I can understand these parents' desire to have a big family party—those first few birthdays are great opportunities to bring loved ones together to celebrate.

To me, one Facebook user said it best: "Still a ridiculous amount of money for a child's birthday party. But, perhaps if we all had money to burn, we'd do the same thing, who knows? Least he is a present father, that clearly loves his child."

Still, I'll be sticking to a backyard bash with a few burgers on the grill for my tot's birthday.

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