A SURVEY by NS&I Savings suggests Britons attend on average four milestone events each year, spending £120 on each one.
Almost a third said they were worried about the cost, while 50% believed such celebrations have become increasingly expensive.
Now, we’re not just talking about weddings, milestone birthdays and wedding anniversaries here. There’s a whole welter of lavish celebrations Brits are only too happy to splash out on, it seems.
But how did this all start? One major influence on our culture is that of American TV programmes. First it was ‘trick or treat’, then ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘Father’s Day’. Now we have school proms, baby showers – what next? Reception class prom? Junior school prom? Baby’s first potty training prom?
Another influence is that of ‘celebrity’ culture. And all those stories of wild extravagance reported in the press. Stories such as Topshop boss, Philip Green, spending £4m on a three-day bar mitzvah celebration for his teenage son, and Elton John wearing a £73,000 Louis XIV costume for his 50th birthday party.
Added to this there’s also the issue of commercialisation and oneupmanship. Card shops, newsagents and florists are raking it in. If there’s an occasion, there’s a card and a decorated mug for it. If there isn’t, one will be invented. And not only are there far more events now, but they’re all so competitive.
I recall children’s birthday parties in the past which were great fun with home-made food, party games (pass-the-parcel, musical chairs and so on), balloons and a small party bag on leaving. But now, it’s a competition to have the best themed party, the more exotic the better, whatever the cost.
Likewise fancy dress parties and school plays. Perish the thought these days that you’d dare send your child in something you’d made yourself!
To the list of false celebrations, though, you can add ‘Secret Santa’, ‘Office Cakes’, ‘Office Birthdays’ and ‘Office Leaving Parties’. What
a load of rubbish! People you can’t stand, being insincere about people they can’t stand either! It’s always instructive, however, to make an exception for Christmas Parties just to see who’s going to make a complete and utter idiot of themselves. Again.
And to think it’s often the people who hold or attend such lavish parties that are often the first to complain they can’t afford university tuition fees or a mortgage …
Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon in paperback and as eBook. Profits to Cudeca