23 May 2018

  • Nearly half (42 per cent) of Scottish parents organise a birthday party for their children averaging £270 per party
  • Despite this, one in ten parents admit they always look to throw the cheapest birthday parties possible
  • Nearly all parents (94 per cent) spend the most money on food and drink, totalling an average of almost £60 per party 

The latest ‘How Scotland Lives’ research has found that almost half (42 per cent) of Scottish parents organise a birthday party for their children, spending an average of £270 per year, or the equivalent of over £4,500 during the child’s lifetime.* 

Where is the party budget spent? 

The biggest cost for parents hosting a children’s birthday party is entertainment for the guests averaging at £90 per party. This may explain why almost half (48 per cent) of parents who have organised a party decide to spend nothing on entertainment and instead plan their own party games for their children. 

Whether it’s cake, crisps, or a chocolate fountain, the vast majority (94 per cent) of parents choose to spend money on food and drink for their children’s birthday party – with the average cost totalling £60. 

Just over one in four parents (27 per cent) spend between £25 and £49 on food and drink, while 17 per cent pay between £50 and £74, and one in five manage to cater for their party guests on a more modest budget of between £1 and £24. 

Where to go and how many to invite? 

Research shows that the average number of children at a birthday party is 10. One in four hosts share their birthday with 11-20 friends and a generous 2 per cent invite the whole class and have more than 30 join the fun. 

One in four parties are event-based taking place in venues such as bowling alleys or local swimming pools. Almost one in ten (9 per cent) choose to celebrate their birthday by dining out at a restaurant, and nearly one in ten (8 per cent) make use of the facilities available at a local football or sports centre. 

Alternatively, almost one third (32 per cent) decide to bring the entertainment home, with 4 per cent hiring a bouncy castle for the garden and a very small 1 per cent having an entertainer visit their home. 

“It’s great to see how parties remain a firm favourite for kids celebrating their birthdays,” says Ricky Diggins, Director for Bank of Scotland. 

“Clearly the various costs incurred in throwing a birthday party will put many parents under pressure to budget carefully, and indeed our ‘How Scotland Lives’ research shows that while many are happy to make their own entertainment, very few will skip the traditional party food and drink.” 

It’s time to go home now 

A party bag can help send guests home with a smile and indeed almost three quarters of parents (73 per cent) choose to buy and hand these out at their children’s parties. The average total spend per party on party bags comes in at £36. 

Birthday presents 

When it comes to others’ birthday parties, 46 per cent spend £6-£10 on the birthday present they take, 36 per cent limit spending to £11-£20 and almost one in ten (8%) spend more than £20 on a gift. 

~ ENDS ~ 

Notes to Editors –  

* aged 1 – 17 years of age. 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 3039 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th December 2017 and 4th January 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

Read the full press release