A little bit birthday party of a rant!. You can still give them a great time on the breadline!
OK, First of all, let me apologise for any possible rambling that may occur! I am in full-on rant mode… Trust me at the end of the post here will be some good ideas so stick with me!
Is this just me, or does it seem that once the kids hit school age, there is a birthday party to attend every other week?
If your child doesn’t attend, you’re a villain, and you’re mean! Then comes is the inevitable walk of shame on Monday morning. Even if you keep your head down, you feel the child’s parents eyes burning through you like a laser beam.
Lavish and expensive birthday parties.
Today’s birthday parties mostly consist of big venue hire, some form of entertainment or theme and catering for an entire class.
According to research the average parent of a primary school-aged child spends a whopping £320 – £500 on a party. I’m sorry what?!
Who are these parties for anyway?
It seems as though it’s all about “keeping up with the Jones’s“. It is as though some parents see a birthday party as an opportunity to outdo one another.
By the same respect, I do feel parents are under pressure these days with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. We frequently see Instagram-happy and Pinterest-perfect images.
“Back in the day”, bragging was done in person, and there was a limit to who heard about it. Now, the audience is often vast, and the brag itself glorified and elevated to an art form!
When I was a child, a birthday party consisted of a few best buddies in the back garden. We would dance around like lunatics to cheesy 90’s pop music and play, pass the parcel and pin the tail on the donkey. The catering consisted of triangle sandwiches, crisps in a bowl and some homemade cakes!
According to the charity Family Action.
- A substantial proportion of parents (44%) admit to struggling with finding the money to pay for children’s birthdays. Significant numbers reveal that to meet the costs they would make significant cuts to household spending or save for extended periods.
- Some parents even took to borrowing money from friends or family, using high-interest doorstep loan companies or paying by credit card, which could lead to spiralling levels of debt.
Let’s also weigh up the financial situation for attendees parents here.
On average these days, a class size in the UK is 27 children; let’s say half of those children have an extravagant birthday party. If you were to attend each party and spend £10 – £15 on a gift each time (nobody wants to look too cheap!) that’s £135 – £202 (ish) extra per school year to include in your budget. 😲
Multiply that figure by X amount of children you have, and you’re going to need to take out a loan!
Choosing a gift is often just a wild stab in the dark, based solely on your own child’s latest obsession. We are usually just buying because we have to. I should imagine the majority of parents re-gift unwanted items! How much “stuff” does one child need anyway?
Cut yourself some slack
We all only want to our best for our kids. Breaking the bank to throw a party at the expense of your family’s well-being isn’t what they need.
Who does your child want to be surrounded by? Take their feelings into consideration; chances are they aren’t friends with every child in their class anyway!
Give them your time and a few best friends and do something they enjoy.
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren
Stuck for ideas?
Some cheaper (and fun) alternative birthday party ideas.
- Picnic in the park. Each child could receive a small packed lunch and have a good time playing in the park.
- Garden party. Just like the good old days! Make some sandwiches, lay out some crisps and make your cakes. Dust off the boombox and play a mixtape!
- Sleepover . Invite just a few of your child’s closest friends and let them stay up late eat popcorn and watch movies.
- Animal adventure – Turn your rooms into different lands. Eg. The lounge is a jungle, the hall a desert, a basket in a bedroom is a ‘bear cave’ etc. Invite children to bring their cuddly toys. Then have adventures finding the right ‘habitats’ for each animal.
- Craft party – Let the kids get messy do some research and gather up some supplies. Make a rocket ship out of boxes or sock puppets.
- Make a movie – Plan a script and assign parts to let the kids act in front of a camera and watch it back.
- Backyard sports day – Hand out medals and hold a winners ceremony.
Pinterest has thousands of great birthday party ideas, many of which are cheap and easy to make and do. Don’t put yourself under pressure by trying to live up to social media super mums.
Be concerned with living only your life and do the best you can with what you have.