Parents unhappy over ‘cheeky’ gifts

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Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Children’s birthday parties are fast becoming an expensive headache, with many parents agreeing with Myleene Klass that they are put under pressure at the school gates to cough up for “cheeky” presents.

Gone are the innocent days of jelly and ice cream, a game of musical chairs and a token gift, a poll suggests. Now mothers and fathers are often asked to fork out for more than they feel is appropriate amid invitations to increasingly lavish celebrations.

One in four admit they have felt under pressure from other parents to spend more on birthday presents, according to a Netmums poll conducted for the Press Association, while almost two-fifths say they have spent more than they wanted to in the past on a gift for a children’s party.

The findings suggest that many parents share the view of singer Klass about being asked to donate money towards a class collection for birthday gifts.

One in eight of those polled said they had been asked to contribute towards a bigger present for a child, and of these the majority (53%) thought the request had been cheeky and that the child should be happy with what they received.

Just over a quarter (28%) said they were happy to contribute if it meant the youngster got what they wanted. More than a third were asked to contribute less than £10, while a further 42% could choose how much to give.

Classic FM presenter Klass hit the headlines last week after posting two emails received “from some school mums” detailing the parents’ preferences for “a class gift for their daughters this year” – a desk and a Kindle – and describing the messages as “madness”.

The group email suggested a donation of £10 each, adding that there was no obligation to join in.

In a tongue-in-cheek reply, the 36-year-old mother of two, who lives in north London, jokingly said her daughter Ava might like a unicorn, adding that money could be donated at fictitious site www.getwhatyouregivenandendthismadness.com.

The singer later confirmed that the emails were a year old as she admitted that there had been some hard feelings in the playground following the publicity.

But she maintained she was trying to convey a serious message and it was her intention to remind parents, who are under pressure to do the best for their children, of what birthdays should be about.

The Netmums findings show that around two-thirds of parents spend between £5-£10 on a gift to take to a child’s party, with a similar proportion saying they think this is the appropriate amount.

But more than a fifth (23%) spend £10 or more, and a similar proportion (22%) think it is appropriate to do so.

The poll also found that while the vast majority of parents (85%) buy a new gift to take to a party, more than one in four (27%) have given cash, and 28% have recycled a birthday present.

More than a third (35%) have asked what the child wanted and then bought it.

Cathy Ranson, editor-in-chief of Netmums, said: “Putting on a birthday party for youngsters should be child’s play – but it seems to bring out the worst in some parents. Over the last decade we’ve seen parties grow from simple affairs focused on the child to excuses for one-upmanship with ever more lavish venues and expensive gifts crammed into party bags.

“A recent study by Netmums found 16% of parents now pay out more than £300 for a single party, with girls between the ages of two and four given the most pricey events. Shockingly, some parents admitted giving opulent gifts in party bags including jewellery, cameras, video games, phones, iPods and even tablets.

“While this may make the parents feel pleased with themselves, is it really what their kids want? Parties are about the people who go, not where they are held. After the last crumb of cake is eaten and final present unwrapped, children’s happy memories are made of who they played with, not how much their mum and dad spent on the day.”

It is not the first time that children’s parties have come under the spotlight recently.

Last month, Derek Nash from Torpoint, Cornwall criticised a mother who sent him an invoice for failing to give notice that his son Alex would not be attending her child’s birthday party.

After his son did not go to the event, the birthday boy’s mother sent him an invoice for £15.95, saying that Mr Nash had left her out of pocket.

Mr Nash said he did not have contact details for the boy’s mother, but she said in a statement that all details had been on the party invite.

:: The Netmums poll questioned 1,134 parents through its website this week.

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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