All three of my kids' birthdays fall within a couple of months of Christmas so it probably won't surprise you to hear that I don't exactly splash the cash on lavish birthday bashes or expensive gifts.
But it seems I am in the minority. According to a recent survey of 2,000 British parents, the average cost of a child's birthday party for children aged between four and ten years old is an eye-watering £320.50.
But it doesn't end there - apparently the average parent also spends a further £175.80 on birthday presents for their precious offspring.
I'm just going to nail my colours to the mast and admit that I find this kind of spending on kids a bit extortionate. But in the Playpennies office we're completely divided on the issue. At one end of the spectrum there's me - I spent a grand total of £30 on my son's birthday party this year. And then there's one of my beloved colleagues who reckons she forked out to the tune of £700 on her youngster's birthday celebrations this year.
Let's just say we're never going to agree when it comes to reasonable spending for children's birthday bashes. She thinks my meagre celebration barely even counts as a party, while I think her extravagant spending is excessive.
Ultimately, of course, what you spend on your child's birthday is your concern and yours alone, and my colleague and I can agree to differ - and enjoy winding each other up about our opposing approaches to birthday spending.
But equally I am entitled to an opinion and it's this. Spending upwards of £300 on a child's birthday is excessive in my eyes, and for all the parents who tell me that their kid still earnestly appreciates the value of money and doesn't act entitled on account of being given so much stuff, I'm going to tell you that others probably still see your kid as the spoilt one. (My colleague doesn't mind pointing out here that other parents probably see me as the tight and joyless one.)
Should you care what anyone thinks about what you spend on your child's birthday? Probably not. Your kid, your business. But from a personal perspective I just don't think any child under the age of 10 could possibly need gifts to the tune of several hundred pounds for every birthday. And I struggle to believe that children who are lavished with so many material possessions don't end up behaving like spoiled brats at some point down the line.
But what do I know? Others might suggest my kid will wind up feeling neglected later in life when he looks back on the frugal celebrations and minimal pressies that marked his birthdays. I don't think so, though.
The kids I've known over the years who are deluged with loads of gifts and swanky birthday parties are also the ones who simply have too much stuff, and I don't think that's good for kids. We all know that money can't buy happiness so why bother going overboard, even if you can?
Incidentally, it's my son's birthday tomorrow and all he really wants is Lego. In his dreams he'd love a rare collector's edition set that retails for several hundred pounds but there's no way it'll be waiting for him on the breakfast table in the morning. He knows he'll have to save hard to pay for that himself -and consequently he'll value it completely differently than he would if it were handed to him on a plate.
Does that make me a mean mummy? I don't think so - just one who recognises that it's possible to give kids too much stuff and that, in the long run, doing so doesn't really do them any favours.
But what's your view? What do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a child's birthday party, and do you think £300 is excessive? Come and tell us over on our Facebook page.
TOPICS: Parenting Tips