Planning for Family Occasions

Blog banner image with a family celebrating, wearing party hats and streamers in the air. Text below reads "Planning for family occasions- Taking control"

Special occasions are a great excuse to get the family or friends together to celebrate. However,  costs can quickly mount and turn a joyful experience into a stressful one if we’re not mindful and keeping track.

Your social calendar can fill up quickly and leave your wallet feeling very light! You might get invited to birthdays, weddings, communions and confirmations. Perhaps a baby shower or two, or to celebrate the arrival of a newborn. This is why it is good to plan and budget ahead of time.

By the end of this blog, we hope you will better understand how to do this and take control!


As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Failing to plan is a plan to fail.”

Making a plan doesn’t have to take long or be complicated. Start small – for this blog; we will ask you to make a list of the occasions you may want to celebrate or attend over the coming 12 months.  List them out. Break down the list into 3 categories and prioritise them based on:

  1. “Can’t miss and will save for.”
  2. “If I can afford to.”
  3. “Just not in the budget.”

Doing this will help when looking at the costs below, and you’ll know where to make savings. It also means you can prioritise the events you want to celebrate and enjoy without overstretching.


We know not everyone will have the option to put away money each time you get paid. But if we start small, maybe €10 per week, you can avoid borrowing or reduce the need to borrow to cover costs.

Below are some questions to get you started on what costs you might need to consider.

  • Do you need to buy a gift or set money aside for the occasion? Can you partner up with family members to buy a bigger gift? For example, a birthday gift.
  • If  you are hosting the family occasion, do you have decorations already? Can you borrow some from family or friends?
  • Do you need an outfit/suit, or can you wear something you already have? Can you swap an outfit with a friend/family member or change it up with accessories like a belt, shirt or tie?
  • Is it a one-day occasion?
  • Do you need to travel and book accommodation? Can you partner up with family members to share accommodation costs?
  • Do you need to book childcare or activities?
  • Do you know someone good at baking? Ask if they would make a birthday cake or cupcakes, which can be their gift. Or are you the baking sensation in your household? You could get the kids involved in baking or as an activity at the party, getting them to decorate their own cupcakes!
  • If you’re the parent of a child, do they need new clothes for the occasion?
    Communion and Confirmations can be two significant expenses for parents. Check out our page for top tips specifically for planning for communions and confirmations.

Fun Fact!

Did you know the last two weeks of September and the first week of October are the most common time for birthdays in Ireland? Check out how many people share the same birthday as you with the CSO’s interactive tool


If you have to pay deposits for venues, accommodation or even occasion wear, set aside part of your budget for this. This will mean you’re not spending it all in one go or leaving yourself short!  As with any budget, you need to start by outlining what you need to buy and what you can afford. Listing out the costs for each occasion will allow you to see where you can possibly save some money or cut some costs entirely!

Where to make savings?  

Well done!

You have made a great start now that you’ve created your plan and budget. When you have a reasonable amount saved, keep an eye out for sales or special offers on gifts, accommodation or occasion wear. Only buy if it is what you want to purchase and don’t get carried away by big sales. It would be only a bargain if you would buy it when it wasn’t on offer. Check out our tips on reducing your online spending to potentially save even more.

Now you’ve (hopefully) have a plan in place for your next family occasion. Be sure to check out our MABS social channels by following @MABSinfo, and keep an eye for more planning/budgeting tips!

Next Steps 

Our next blog will focus on top tips for saving in the coming year and how to reduce your costs!  If you’d like to do some additional reading or learn more about budgeting, visit How to Budget.

That’s all for now but check back soon for more budgeting top tips.

Would you like some one-to-one free and non-judgmental support with budgeting? Call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm if you want to talk confidentially about budgeting, problem debt or general financial matters.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure this information is current and correct. The details of each case can be unique. As a result, the outcome can differ from what has been described in this blog.

Note: We welcome references to and use of the content in this blog. However, please reference MABS, and link said content if you choose to do so.