Jun 20, 2010
Upsized kids throw birthday bash at McDonald's
Birthday boy Gerald Tan?s (centre) 29th birthday party at McDonald?s came with games, party hats and guests decked out in school uniforms. -- ST PHOTO: SAMUEL HE
Dear old friend,
I am finally turning 30 years young and would love if you could come and celebrate my birthday with me at McDonald's.
The theme is 'back to school', so I expect you in nothing less than a school uniform.
From an excited over-aged school kid
Birthday parties at McDonald's these days are no longer just for kids. They have been quite a hit with young working professionals, too.
The chain has been noticing a trend of more adult birthday parties at its outlets since early last year.
Its oldest adult birthday has been for someone in the late 50s.
Adult parties make up about 5 per cent of the total number of parties at McDonald's, says the chain's communications director, Ms Linda Ming.
But it seems only the Golden Arches offers the appeal of a birthday bash for older folks reliving their cheeseburger youth.
When LifeStyle checked with other fastfood outlets such as KFC, such bashes were not a common occurrence.
A party at McDonald's, depending on the number of people you invite, would probably set you back a few hundred dollars - far less than what you would spend at a decent restaurant for a quiet sit-down dinner with close ones.
It costs $9 for a Happy Meal (kid's portion meal) or $11 for an Extra Value Meal (adult portion) and the party requires a minimum of 12 partygoers.
But there is one catch: No alcohol is served.
Instead, think of the novelty factor - Happy Meal toys, party hats, sitting in kid- sized chairs and eating at tables for tots (you can opt for normal-sized furniture), and taking every opportunity to scare one another with crazy-looking balloon sculptures.
You can almost imagine how it will turn out: a bunch of party-hat wearing grown-ups chasing each other around the premises with gun-like balloon sculptures, fighting to beat each other at musical chairs and then ending it off with speeches and toasts with cups of ice Milo and Coke.
One recent birthday boy is shipping executive Gerald Tan, who threw his 29th 'back to school' birthday bash at a McDonald's outlet in Hougang earlier this month.
He invited 25 friends to play kiddie games such as passing the ping-pong ball using spoons, dress up in their old (or new) school uniforms and tuck into hamburgers and fries, of course.
He says: 'I had always wanted to celebrate my birthday at McDonald's when I was growing up but never had the chance.
'So I thought I had better throw the one I had always dreamt of before I turn 30. I knew it would be crazy, but it really makes you think about your childhood days.'
When he told his cousin, operations manager Jolene Lee, 26, about the party and its school uniform theme, she thought it was hilarious.
She had to fork out $21 for a new school uniform to wear to the party. She says: 'It made me reminisce about the good times I had in school and shopping for a school uniform made me feel like a kid all over again.'
And like Mr Tan, actor Brendon Fernandez, 31, had also always dreamt of having a birthday party at McDonald's.
He says: 'I never had one as a kid and I am not sure if I even had the opportunity to attend one either.'
He threw a 30th birthday bash at the King Albert Park outlet for 30 of his friends last year.
His theme: Pink and blue.
He admits that he and his grown-up friends were very competitive when it came to the game of musical chairs - they were screaming, shouting and shoving, but all in good fun, of course.
'Everyone got a chance to be a kid again. It was really kitschy - it was people just having fun and no one really cared about whether anyone else was looking.'
Throwing surprise birthday parties for their significant others has also been popular with those in their late 20s.
Last year, lawyer-turned-fashion design student Lin Li, 27, threw Mr Leow Yik Shiong, then her fiance now her husband, a surprise 28th birthday party at the McDonald's at King Albert Park.
He had mentioned that he never had one as a child, so she decided to do him a favour and throw him one. His friends thought it was an awesome idea.
And boys, being boys, will always be competitive.
Says Mr Leow: 'We played kiddy games It was quite silly, but all in good fun because my friends were very good sports and thoroughly enjoyed themselves being extremely competitive at musical chairs.'
So, what next for these 'oldies' who have finally had a taste of the McDonald's birthday party they had always dreamt of?
Mr Fernandez offers this: 'I will probably have another party there when I turn 64. And you can be sure it will be absolute chaos.'