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“Bon anniverscare”: Parents fork out £5K on their children’s birthdays through primary school

  • Moneyminding: Parents spend £433 on birthday parties every year (per child)
  • Showered with presents: On top of this, parents fork out an average of £165 worth of presents for their kids every year and spend £16 on presents for other children when attending birthdays
  • Savings sacrificed: half of Brits forfeit other financial priorities to afford extravagant birthdays

Christmas might be over but present buying won’t stop for British parents who are forking out record amounts on children’s birthdays according to Barclays.

New research from Barclays finds that the average British parent will spend £4,886.28 on birthdays in the seven years[1]  their children attend primary school (ages 4-11). And with parents expected to have to fork out an average of £60,000 on the expenses children’s school years bring, from school uniforms, to trips, to extra-curricular activities, the strain on savings is only going to deepen in later life[2].

The survey of 1,000 British parents with children aged eight years old or below found that parents will typically spend £433.39 on their children’s birthday parties, and £164.65 on presents – with some more extravagant parents buying as many as 50 gifts per birthday. Catering, the entertainment, the activities, party bags and cake are the top 5 most expensive elements of a birthday, parents claim.

Birthday spending reaches even more astronomical heights when it comes to the costs parents have to fork out on other people’s children. The research revealed that parents spend an average of £223.05 on party bags alone (£14.87 per bag), with birthdays attended by an average of 15 children.

Perhaps due to peer pressure from parents and children alike, almost half of respondents (49%) said they feel obliged to invite the whole class, raising attendance numbers to a minimum of 27, according to average class sizes in UK Primary Schools[3]. And although some dutiful parents revealed they attend as many as 30 children’s parties every year, the typical parent in the UK will have to take their child to six occasions a year, spending an average of £16 for a gift.

Breaking down the cost of birthdays across Primary School:





Amount parents will spend on birthday parties



Amount parents will spend on presents for their children



Amount parents will spend on birthday presents for other children (when attending birthday parties)







A price too high

The research showed that parents feel immense financial strain due to the amount they spend on birthdays, with half (50%) admitting to having sacrificed other financial commitments such as saving and investing to afford extravagant birthday costs.

Parents clearly agree that there is scope to reduce costs. A third (33%) admitted that they buy more presents than their children need, with 31% claiming they could spend their money in better ways, such as saving for a rainy day or using money to invest.

Clare Francis, Savings and Investments Director at Barclays, said: “As a parent, it’s easy to understand why people spend so much money on children’s birthdays, but the money you spend on presents and parties adds up and ultimately can end up having quite an impact on the savings you might have otherwise put aside for your child’s future, especially since many of us are juggling just to make ends meet each month already.  

For anyone spending more than they think they should, it’s perhaps time to reassess the amount you’d typically spend on birthdays and take a longer term view. Although it seems worthwhile now, there are plenty of moments later in their lives when having that bit of extra money will help, whether it be funding items for school or a trip abroad. So make the decision to not get carried away and hold firm in not bowing down to peer pressure for their next birthday – it could make a big difference in the future.”

Naughty naughty

The research also revealed some of the misbehaviours of children at birthday parties, which included anecdotes about children blowing out candles on the birthday cake, eating the sweets they brought as gifts and walking off with the birthday money.

Looking at the most common misbehaviours, a fifth (20%) of parents have said they have witnessed a bust up between children at their child’s party. One in five have endured a child’s guest having a tantrum and one in 10 have had a child turn up uninvited.

Parents ranked their home as the most stressful place to host a children’s birthday party, followed by a swimming pool and a restaurant – completing the top three.



  1. Your own home
  2. A swimming pool
  3. A restaurant
  4. A theme park
  5. A soft play park
  6. An ice rink
  7. The cinema
  8. An arcade
  9. A bowling alley
  10. A trampoline park


Clare Francis continues: “The sooner you start saving, the better your financial trajectory will be. Save regularly and use that money to plan for longer financial goals that are 10 years or more away. That financial cushion also allows for any sudden emergencies, such when the car breaks down or the boiler packs up. If you’re looking for some guidance on where to start, give Barclays Finance Manager a try and help plan your financial future.”

Barclays Finance Manager can help people set savings goals and take a long-term view, and plan ahead for the financial impact of life’s ups and downs.

Barclays also offers a number of tools that customers can use to help avoid the temptation to overspend. For example, the new ‘Your Cards’ feature on Barclays Mobile Banking allows people to set their own ATM withdrawal limits, and to switch off the ability to shop online.

[2] Centre for Economics and Business Research 2016 based on education from the ages of 5-18

Notes to editors

Research was conducted in October 2017 by Atomik Research, which included 1,000 parents living in the UK with children ages eight and below.

About Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer and wholesale bank with global reach, offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 85,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website .