Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Crazy Rich Birthday on a Budget

By Tracy Chou @triketora and Elisa Mala @elisa_mala

Step 1. The invite.

Watch Crazy Rich Asians. Not once, not twice, but three times, each. Between two of you, that’s six times altogether. Maybe even go to the LA premiere and interview some of the cast on the red carpet. Or meet Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations when the country’s tourism board hosts a screening in New York.

Pick your spiritual inspiration from a cast of characters that, for the first time ever, might actually look like you. Astrid. Peik Lin. Obsess over the whole thing a little bit more. Decide to host a Crazy Rich Asians-themed party.

~ Fancy-shmancy or “snoshy”
~ Favorite waterproof wedding dress
~ Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops
~ One word: “clubbing”
~ Shirtless to show off your six-pack


Splashthat: $0.

Step 2. The decor.

Order some paper lanterns and twine off Amazon. That’s the easy part.

To recreate the lush Singaporean jungle effect of Araminta Lee and Colin Khoo’s wedding scene, you need some florals and foliage. Take a spin through Manhattan’s floral district and find some end-of-life flowers to bargain down on price. Bring your Asian mom for full effect; with a huge smile and the sweetest voice, she casually mentions to the seller the broad monstera deliciosa leaf has holes in it and looks “broken.” A huge discount is offered. Negging: an effective haggling tactic! Return home triumphant with a haul of four dozen baby roses, two dozen orchids, many fistfuls of stemmed green leafery, plus the “broken” monstera, all this for only $22.

Put up the twine like clotheslines across the room, tie alternating lengths of the string to dangle vertically from those, then knot on the lanterns and flowers for dramatic hanging effect. On the table beneath, arrange the leaves and remaining flowers like a table runner.

Don’t forget to put up that Crazy Rich Asians movie poster you picked up from the third screening you went to. Just to remind people of the theme, in case they forget.

Paper lanterns: $25.
Twine: $4.
Flowers: $22.
Crazy Rich Asians movie poster: $0.

Step 3. The food.

Go for cookies, cakes, and tea. Like Eleanor’s bible study session. Indulge in mooncakes, since it’s almost Mid-Autumn Festival. Trust that your friends will be darlings and bring a dazzling array of desserts to contribute. (They do.)

Swing by the dollar store for a handful of 100 Grands and Oh Henry!s. They make for good party decor.


Assorted teas and almond milk from Trader Joe’s: $20.
Assorted cookies from Trader Joe’s: $20.
Mooncakes from Lung Moon Bakery: $34.
Candy bars from the dollar store: $1 each.

Step 4. The wardrobe.

Screenshot movie stills to your phone for fashion inspiration. Search Rent the Runway for appropriately glamorous garments and accessories. Get excited, then get realistic that you’re not actually going to spend $150 to wear a designer dress for a day. Realize that the Rent the Runway Unlimited subscription you canceled has a week left until expiration. Get excited again.

For Astrid: Reserve that Prabal Gurung tea rose side slash dress you’ve been eyeing and a gorgeous pair of gold-plated, resin-painted Oscar de la Renta floral drop earrings (clip-ons, though, because you don’t have pierced ears). Finish off the look with dramatic cream-and-brown cat eye sunglasses, on sale at GAP.


GAP sunglasses: $17.
Prabal Gurung dress: $0 (with Rent the Runway Unlimited subscription).
Oscar de la Renta earrings: $0 (with Rent the Runway Unlimited subscription).
Any non-black high-heeled footwear from closet: $0.

For Peik Lin: Sadly, Rent the Runway doesn’t do animal-patterned silk pajama sets (yet?) but some of their glittery pieces do give a good nouveau riche Goh family vibe.


Step 5. The guestlist.

Miscellaneous high-society well-dressed Asians, Rachel, “Cocktail Dress” and “Walk of Shame”. Jet-setting friends in town from Singapore, London, and San Francisco. (They definitely came in by private jet.)

Step 6. The toast.

Clink your glass and marvel at how the room immediately falls silent.

Against a backdrop of opulence and abs, Crazy Rich Asians is about the magic that awaits those who are brave enough to take on the world as their very best, most bok-bok selves. Your own crazy rich party on a budget is obviously not about being rich in the Taiwan Plastics Chus kind of way.

You are grateful to be crazy rich in all the ways money can’t buy.

Toast to adventure, to life experience, to grand opportunity.

Toast to friendship, and to your friends in the room: The ones who make their way through the world with you, whether that’s tech events in San Francisco, Russian baths in New York, congressional hearings in Washington, DC, or Sundance Film Festival in the dead of winter in Utah. The ones who remain by your side when air conditioners malfunction and hearts break, who power through jetlag and tears. Who cheer your successes. Who protect you from harm. Who show you the love you deserve. Who make all things feel possible.

Bonus! Step 7. The photoshoot.

Once the guests are gone, take full advantage of both you and the space looking fabulous to stage a photoshoot. Bask in being extra.

P.S. Your mom joins for this part. She’s rocking a rose gold sequin gown off the CRA rack at Rent the Runway. And she’s got the sunglasses to match.

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