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Celebrations During a Cost-of-Living Crisis

by Sarah McMurray

Celebrations During a Cost-of-Living Crisis

The recent King’s Birthday holiday got me thinking – are we allowed to celebrate during a cost-of-living crisis?

Yes, we need to cut costs and increase our incomes. But we need to do more with our lives than just eat-work-sleep-save money-repeat.

Even though inflation might be running out of control like a puppy with the zoomies, everyone is going to carry on living their lives. The year is going to happen, bringing with it religious festivals and secular holidays.

Which means that things are going to happen that we would usually celebrate.

I can hear all the budget-conscious people now.

“You have to ask yourself: Is celebrating a NEED, or a WANT?”

Celebrations are definitely, without question, a need. They are so much more than just extra expense.

Celebrations help to create a sense of belonging. Belonging is on the second level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, just above food, shelter and safety.

Celebrations can also instill a sense of meaning and significance in our lives, helping us to pause and acknowledge achievements that we’ve worked hard for. They help us to create good memories – music, laughter, celebratory food and drink all bring joy. Taking part in the same celebrations that our ancestors observed can help us feel we belong to a bigger circle of life.

These are deep, sustaining needs. We need to meet them, while spending less (or no) money.

Is there a magic formula to apply? 10-tips-to-save-money-on-your-child’s-birthday-party?


Because what’s important to me in a celebration might not be important to you.

The magic comes with talking to your loved ones, and getting creative in meeting your needs.

Rather than cutting out celebrations altogether, have the conversation. Joy, laughter, music a sense of belonging – these can all be had for little or no money. Food and drink and presents may come at more cost, but maybe they are not all necessary all of the time for people to feel properly celebrated.

What does upset people is expecting something, and then getting less. So have the conversation now.

With adults and teenage children, you can front-foot it: “I’m having to cut back what I’m spending at the moment, and it’s really important to me to celebrate your birthday / achievement / milestone. Can you help me figure out how to do both? What are the elements that make it feel like a proper celebration to you?”

With younger children, keep in mind that between the ages of 5-15 presents become extremely important, because birthdays and festivals are usually their only opportunities all year to get something that they want. Just be sure to gently adjust their expectations before they get to the present-opening. Adults can contain their disappointment. 7-year-olds cannot.

Next week, I’ll have some real-life examples of ways that people I’ve worked with have created joyful, memorable celebrations, and met their need to spend less.

Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels

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