Recently my kids have been to some really OTT birthday parties. One was so lavish that it could well have been a wedding as it had table service for the kids from waiters, two entertainers and a disco. The kids enjoyed it but on the whole I think they would have been as happy with a piece of cake, a few sandwiches and pass the parcel.
So it doesn’t surprise me to hear that national charity Family Action, in partnership with Lloyds Money for Life programme has found that almost half of British parents cannot afford to give their children the birthday party they want to throw. The report, entitled Birthdays on the Breadline reveals how many families are driven to spend on birthday parties because of increasing pressure to impress other parents, friends and family. With more than a third spending between £80 and £500 on an individual child’s party and around 46% of parents saying they have to save in advance to throw a party.
The trend for taking cake, sweets and party bags into school for classmates can’t help much either. When did this become common place? And why are the cakes being bought in so fancy? The easy answer is parents showing off and trying to keep up with the mums that make it their mission to do everything in an OTT way. The report backs this up showing that nearly half of parents saying the best part of organising their child’s part is the sense of achievement they get from it.
In response to the report Family Action, and Lloyds Money for Life have come up with some top tips on how to organise a party on a budget (see tips below) but my common sense tip is simply to get a birthday party into perspective. Ignore playground peer pressure (it’s there for everything so why bother with it) and ask yourself what do your kids really want? Answer: A cake, some fun and a few friends to make their day happy this doesn’t have to equal huge expenses or A-list entertainers. If you don’t believe me think back to the parties you had when you were a kid!
1. Have a party at home this year instead of at an external venue? Setting up a birthday party at home for your children and their friends is cost effective and with a little time and planning you can give your child some very happy memories.
2. Providing party bags is often expected for kids’ birthdays but they can be expensive, minimise the amount you spend by having a ‘lucky dip’ as an alternative for the children to pick one small gift each as they leave the party.
3. A trip to the cinema with some friends makes a great birthday treat but the cost can quickly spiral out of control. However, many cinemas now show kids’ films at the weekend at a fraction of the cost. Check out your local cinema to see what’s on offer.