How to save your Communion money and still have a great day
Parents have a range of low-cost options for buying outfits and dining out on the big day.
Communion season is nearly upon us, with close to 50,000 Catholic families around the country getting ready for the big day.
Research shows that it is a huge expense, with one survey indicating that parents spent an average of €713 on their child's First Holy Communion in 2013.
That's down slightly on the previous year, but still a hefty expense for any household budget.
The survey by Ulster Bank indicates that the child's outfit typically cost €163; while €190 is spent on new clothes for other family members; party celebrations, food and drink add up to an average of €291; and children's entertainment costs €69.
Smart Consumer took a look at the options parents have to celebrate in style without breaking the bank.
Supermarket chain Aldi will be selling Communion dresses from Thursday, March 27, for just €24.99. There will be two different styles of dress on offer at that price as well as Communion shrugs for €9.99, a handbag and glove set for €9.99 and headdresses for €9.99 each
The Communion wear will be on sale as a one-off special offer and they're likely to be in big demand judging by the high level of discussions they've generated on parenting websites.
Aldi group buying director Rob Farrell says that their Irish buying team had "worked hard to source elegantly designed dresses from quality fabrics with every attention to detail".
Dunnes Stores, meanwhile, is offering Paul Costelloe Communion dresses priced from €55 to €95.
It also has boleros for €20, veils for €16 and gloves for €10, while boys can select Paul Costelloe blazers from €32, trousers from €26 to €28 and shirts from €20 to €25.
Debenhams, meanwhile, has Communion dresses priced from €53 to €122.
Parents can also take a Christian approach by buying dresses from Oxfam. The money raised from these supports its lifesaving work with families in developing countries.
Oxfam Ireland has second-hand Communion dresses for between €10 and €15 in its shop on South Great George's Street in Dublin, while other shops around the country get them in more sporadically.
The George's St store also sells brand-new Communion dresses for between €25 and €30 with accessories, including shoes for €5, hats for €8 and veils for €25. It also has a range of second-hand boys' separates, including jackets for €10, waistcoats and ties for €15 and trousers for €6.50.
Store manager Anne L'Henoret says that parents buying their daughters' Communion dress at Oxfam would be supporting families in severe poverty. "The proceeds of a Communion dress that sells for €25 could provide food for a child orphaned by AIDS in Malawi for three months, while a €30 gown could buy blankets for two families who fled the current crisis in Syria and arrived in Jordan or Lebanon with nothing," she says.
Communion meals and parties are obviously among the biggest expenses families face, but there are options to help cut costs. Keeping the numbers small and catering at home instead of eating out can be cost-effective.
If you do go out, many hotels offer special Communion rates.
For example, Bewleys charges €15 for a two-course lunch plus coffee, with child meals costing €5.95, and the First Communion child gets a free meal.
Some restaurants also offer bouncy castles or entertainment for the kids as part of the package for a lunch party.
For example, the Green Isle hotel in Dublin offers a three-course set menu including tea and coffee for €24.95 per adult and €12.50 per child, with a free meal for the Communion or Confirmation child, with children's entertainment in the bar.