Between the outfits, the after party, and gifts for classmates, First Communion time can get very expensive.
A 2019 Ulster Bank survey found that parents spend an average of €929 on their child’s communion day – the highest since 2011.
When Covid struck, social distancing restrictions changed the scale of the celebrations, but now that lockdown has been lifted we may be seeing a return to form. With just weeks to go, we asked Irish parents how they could keep costs down this communion season.
1. Shop high street or second hand
If you don’t need to buy your child’s outfit yet, you can find cheaper options at Next, H&M, TK Maxx and Monsoon, who sell a range of boys’ and girls’ formal wear, many ranging from €30 to €80. For even bigger savings, check out local charity shops.
Michelle Davitt, co-founder of the parenting site MyKidsTime.comShe went both ways when planning communions for her two daughters in Galway.
“I bought a dress from Marks & Spencer for my first child, and my mom bought the dress from a thrift store for my second child,” she says. And if you have multiple children, don’t spend money on an outfit assuming it will suit the others for years to come. “My daughters were different heights – all children change shape and size – and just because the first one likes it, the second doesn’t. Don’t spend a fortune on a dress and think, ‘Oh sure, everyone’s going to love it’.”
2. Avoid communion displays in stores
“Look for things that say ‘communion’ – shoes, accessories, hair clips, all those things. If they’re labeled ‘communion’, they’re more expensive,” says Michelle. These items are also usually designed to be worn once, but if you shop around you can find pieces that last longer and cost less.
The lockdown shift towards more casual attire means dress codes may not be as strict as in previous years. For girls, a relaxed fabric like cotton, linen or broderie anglaise is more wearable after communion than rich silk, taffeta or lace, and for boys, Michelle suggests swapping out the full suit for a smart off-duty outfit that can be worn again.
Either way, she recommends looking for shoes that can last beyond Communion Day. “Get something like white sneakers if it goes with the outfit because they’ll definitely wear them again,” she says.
3. Reuse of family occasion wear
While the child may need new clothes for the ceremony, the rest of the family does not. “Does the whole family need an outfit?” asks Michelle. “Has everyone at school seen what you’re going to wear? If you were at a wedding or other family occasion that required an elegant outfit, you can easily repurpose that outfit.”
Likewise, you do not have to do without make-up and hair styling. Sheila Hanley, the Cork-based accountant behind Irish Bargain Hunter’s Instagram profile (@TheIrishBargain), plans the communion of her son Ódhran and will do his own hair and make-up.
“It’s not like a wedding – it’s more family-oriented, so the most important person is the kid. It really doesn’t matter if the hair and makeup are done,” she says.
4. Make a group booking for photos
If you’re interested in getting a pro, Michelle recommends splitting the cost with other parents or asking the school to book one for the group. “See if you can ask your school to organize a photographer to come in and take pictures of everyone, kind of like a school photo, and then you can pay for it instead of hiring studio time or finding a photographer yourself,” she says .
5. Ask others to get involved
If you’re throwing a party at home, Michelle advises going for a more relaxed style rather than hiring caterers. “You could make an entree and then ask friends and family if they wouldn’t mind bringing a dish or dessert. Most people would like to help.
“Same goes for the cake—if you have a friend who’s really good at baking, don’t be afraid to ask if they would bake the cake for you,” she says, adding that when a cake is too stressful is, a selection of cupcakes or muffins can also be served very nicely.
6. Try afternoon tea instead of a large meal
Another way to cut costs is to opt for a tea party instead of a three-course meal. “A friend’s little girl likes princess-themed things, so they made afternoon tea where they picked up sandwiches and scones from the supermarket, and then all the guests brought different types of cakes,” says Sheila. “It’s so easy, very inexpensive, and it’s something the kid likes.”
7. Buy alcohol in advance
Most families still have time to stock up in the weeks leading up to the celebrations.
“You still have between four and six weeks. So if you throw a bottle of wine in your weekly shopping, you can spread the cost up front and not spend £100 on drinks the week before Communion,” he tells Sheila, with a reminder that there’s no need for copious amounts of alcohol gives. “Try buying the standard drinks rather than something off the wall; Most people drink beer or wine, so stick to the most popular ones.”
8. Swap parties at home for a day trip
If you’re really struggling to stick to a budget, dining out might be a better option. “When you’re paying to go out, you can control the cost because you get a set price for each person and you can say, ‘Can we have four pitchers of MiWadi for the kids and three bottles of wine for the table? ?’ After that, everyone should pay for themselves. That way you know in advance and can account for those costs,” says Michelle.
Other families skip parties altogether and bring their child for the day, which is a special treat when the child can choose where to go, whether it’s a visit to Tayto Park or a night at a hotel. It is often cheaper to book online and look out for offers such as B. the exchange of Tesco Clubcard vouchers for entry tickets at Dublin Zoo.
9. Agree on a gifting policy
When it comes to your child’s classmates, Sheila advises checking with other parents and guardians beforehand.
“All it takes is one person on the school WhatsApp group to say, ‘Let’s not give communion gifts, let’s make a nice card for their friends.’ That takes the pressure off, and most parents are okay with that now. They also do this for teacher gifts, so it’s not like it’s never been discussed,” she says.
Another option is to skip the cash and plan a special outing for a later date. “Instead of giving gifts, you could organize a fun day for the kids afterwards – take them to pizza or to a play center,” suggests Michelle.
10. Entertain yourself with games that you can use again
Do without the bouncy castle and save yourself the costs with cheaper ideas.
“Aldi and Lidl have been releasing garden games in the next few weeks, so instead of having a bouncy castle set up the Jenga or a ring toss. It’s more like the kids are looking for different things — it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s just that they want it to be a different day,” says Sheila.
If your budget is very tight, you don’t even need to buy new games to have a good time.
“Create an obstacle course in the garden or just play some music and let the kids dance,” says Michelle. “The kids will have fun anyway.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/ditch-the-bouncy-castle-and-forego-cash-gifts-10-ways-to-cut-communion-day-costs-41551955.html Say goodbye to the bouncy castle and ditch cash gifts — 10 ways to cut Holy Communion costs