Brits are sacrificing food shops and therapy to afford friend’s birthdays, according to new report

by | May 5, 2024

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  • A new report by thortful, reveals Brits are struggling to keep up with the costs of friend’s extravagant birthdays.
  • 71% have had to make up an excuse not to attend if they can’t afford it.
  • Brits are sacrificing both weekly food shops and therapy to pay for their friend’s birthdays.

Gone are the birth-days and enter the era of birth-weekends or birth-weeks, as a recent report shares 45% go away for their birthday.

Whilst there’s a rise in birthday celebrations that would envy some ‘my super sweet 16’ style parties, a new report2 by greetings card marketplace, thortful, reveals Brits are struggling to keep up with the costs of friend’s plans.

The report highlights the most expensive parts of a birthday, what they’ve had to sacrifice to afford birthdays, and the biggest excuses people give to back out of events they can’t afford.


What do brits spend the most on?

Gifts take the biggest chunk of our money, with a third of Brits spending the most on birthday presents. Yet, 40% of brits think only milestone birthdays warrant a gift, and just 35% think someone should receive a gift for every birthday.

Food and drink are almost as expensive, with 29% of respondents saying their money goes on eating out for their friend’s celebrations. Then no celebration is complete without looking the part, as almost 15% of Brits spend the most on a brand-new outfit for the occasion.


What have people had to sacrifice to afford friends’ events?

Such high prices and expectations mean Brits are having to sacrifice their own needs and wants to be able to afford their friends celebrations.

Friend’s birthdays are eating into our precious annual leave, according to the report, as 18% of respondents claimed this to be their ‘biggest sacrifice’. The nation is cutting back on food, too, as meals out (14%) and even the weekly food shop (12%) are seeing sacrifices to keep up with financial birthday strains.


In a more worrying statistic, over 5% of us are even sacrificing therapy in order to afford our friend’s birthday celebrations.

What are the biggest excuses people give?

For those that simply can’t afford birthday celebrations, but are too embarrassed to admit financial strains, 71% have had to make up an excuse to miss their friend’s celebration, according to the survey.


The survey found the biggest excuses brits have given are ‘I’m feeling unwell’ (38%), ‘I have a sick relative’ (19%), and ‘work responsibilities’ (16.4%).

To help navigate conversations around finances, birthday requests, and learning the ‘art of saying no’, financial expert and Vice President at Desert Capital Management Group, Stephanie Mearse, gives her top tips:

  • Start by explaining your financial priorities and limitations without going into specific details if you’re uncomfortable. For instance, you might say, “I’m trying to stick to a budget right now, so I need to be mindful of my spending.”
  • Initiate the discussion by sharing your own experiences or concerns about money and asking if your friend feels comfortable talking about it. You can say something like, “I’ve been thinking about my finances lately and wondering if you’ve ever had similar thoughts. Would you be open to discussing it?”
  • It’s okay to decline invitations or requests that don’t align with your priorities or values. You can politely decline by expressing gratitude for the invitation or opportunity, then explaining why you’re unable to participate. For example, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I have other commitments right now.” Remember, saying no is about prioritizing your own well-being and boundaries.

To help tell friends and family you can’t quite afford their over-the-top celebrations, thortful has created a sarky collection of cards to express ‘this is all you’re getting’ here:


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