Planning for Family Occasions

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Special occasions are a great excuse to get the family or some friends together to celebrate (within public health guidelines). But costs can quickly mount and turn a joyful experience into a stressful one if we’re not mindful and keeping track.  

Between different events such as significant birthdays or children’s birthday parties, weddings, communions and confirmations, baby showers or births, your social calendar can fill up quickly – leaving your wallet feeling very light! This is why it’s a good idea to plan and budget accordingly. By the end of this blog, you will have a better idea of how to plan, budget and save for special occasions. 

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. 


Take some time to work out how many occasions you have coming up this year or in the next 12 months. List them out, write the months down on a piece of paper to see how many you need to plan for. 

Break them out into 3 categories and prioritise them based on “can’t miss and will save for”, “if I can afford to” and “just not in the budget”. By doing this, it will help when setting out the costs below – you’ll know where you can make savings. Missing out on events can be upsetting but there can be some that you just feel obligated to go to or spend money on.  



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

As with any budget, you need to start by outlining what you can afford and what you need to buy. Listed 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? Can you partner up with family members to buy a bigger gift (for weddings or big birthdays) 
  • If you are hosting, do you have decorations already? Can you borrow some from family or friends? 
  • For children’s birthdays, Carta Cúig/or €5 in a card has become popular for school going children and reduces the burden on parents. 
  • 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? 
  • If you’re the parent of a child, do they need new clothes for the occasion?  
    – Communion dresses or suits can be a big cost these days
    – For confirmations, will they wear their uniform or is an outfit needed?
    – Check out our page for further information on planning for communions and confirmations 


Top Tip – When creating a budget, it’s good practice to exclude the month or weeks before (depending on if you do a monthly or weekly budget) as you’ll be using it to pay for the occasion itself. E.g. If you’re budgeting for a wedding at the end of July, don’t include the money you’re setting aside in July. 

Where to make savings? 

Well done! You have made a great start now that you’ve created your plan and your budget. 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 paying it all in one go or leaving yourself short! 

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 wanted to purchase and don’t get carried away by big sales. It’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it when it wasn’t on offer. 

Check out our tips on reducing your online spending to potentially save even more. 

Remember, for occasions like birthdays or family gatherings, it’s about spending time together and making memories. It’s not about how much you spent trying to make the day perfect. If you know someone that’s good at baking, ask would they make a birthday cake or cupcakes and that can be their gift. You could get the kids involved in baking or as an activity at the party, getting them to decorate their own cupcakes! 


Have you got any tips or life hacks to share? Tell us @MABSinfo on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and we’ll share them out.  

You can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.