Birthdays on the breadline

Chris PolechonskiSenior Research Executive Digital, Media and Technology
April 12, 2013, 10:06 AM GMT+0

Almost half (44%) of British parents cannot afford to give their child a birthday party, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Blue Rubicon and used in a new report from Money for Life/Family Action.

Our national poll reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of British parents with children under 18 said that they cannot afford to give their children a birthday party, increasing to 51% among respondents from lower social grades.

Yet despite financial pressures, the survey found that over a quarter (27%) of these parents have spent money on their child’s birthday celebrations out of a sense of duty to provide their child with a party.

Costly occasion

More than a third (35%) of parents are spending anywhere between £80 and £500 on an individual child’s party. In order to afford a birthday party for their children, nearly half of parents (46%) would consider saving money at least a month in advance, with 41% also sacrificing a night out with friends.

Around a fifth (21%) of parents of children aged under 18 would even consider cutting back on household expenses to afford their child’s birthday party; and over a quarter (27%) would go without new clothes for themselves or their children.

If they were to try and cut costs down, 57% of parents said they would have their child’s birthday party at home instead of at an external venue. Similarly, just over half of parents (52%) would invite fewer friends to the party to reduce costs.

Cause for celebration?

Despite these costs, for nearly half of respondents (49%) a particularly enjoyable part of organising their child’s birthday party is the sense of achievement they get from it and seeing their child and their friends happy.

49% of parents also enjoy their child’s birthday celebrations because it reminds them that their child is special to them. Even more so, over half of parents (54%) particularly enjoy giving their child presents at their birthday party.

Chief Executive of Family Action, David Holmes, said: “Paying for children’s birthday parties is clearly a source of financial stress for many families, even before the costs of birthday presents are taken into account. This financial stress is magnified for low income families who may find they are spending the equivalent of a week’s living costs for the whole family on a party for a single child.

“If you then add in the additional financial pressures that low income families in particular are facing from low wage rises and the squeeze on welfare, paying for children’s parties is no cause for celebration.”

Blue Rubicon is a consultancy that leads strategic thinking in corporate reputation management, building brand equity, and behaviour change campaigning.

The results were used as part of a report by Family Action in partnership with Money for Life (Lloyds Banking Group’s personal money management programme).

See the full survey results