Holy show: Welcome to the world of Ireland's Big Fat Communion parties
Hummers, hoverboards, pamper parties and pedicures, welcome to the colourful world of Ireland’s Big Fat Communion parties.
Last year, the average family spent a whopping €836 on Holy Communion and the spending spree isn’t slowing down.
Hummers are back and in high demand, pamper parties have become the norm and couture dresses and Conor McGregor-style suits are flashier than ever.
While high street stores including Debenhams and TK Maxx remain the go-to stores for thrifty parents, Petit is just one high-end boutique that sells couture gowns upwards of €1,000, while a Louis Copeland designer suit can set you back a cool €500 or more.
On the beauty front, Pretty Pollys Parlour in Finglas is just one of the many salons who now offer Communion pamper packages.
The popular salon’s bespoke package includes pink lemonade on arrival, a mini manicure and pedicure. Hair styling and a mini facial.
LittleLadiesPamperParties.ie also offers a day of indulgence. The website adds: “Treat your little princess! We are offering one hour packages every Thursday in May.
Package includes fluffy gowns, foot spa soak, hand and toe nail painting, sparkly gold or silver tattoo, glass of pink lemonade.”
When it comes to the big day it’s also important to arrive in style. Absolute Limos has a full fleet of hummers and limousines that are a big hit, but it won’t come cheap. The Pink Playboy Hummer H2 costs an eye-watering €235 to rent for the first hour.
Emma McCaffrey (29), from Tallaght, is just one young mum who is sparing no expense when it comes to her little girl’s dream day.
“My little girl’s Communion is next weekend and there are still things we need to buy. We are hiring a space for family and friends so we can celebrate the day together.
Factoring in the entertainment, food, and dressing the family for the day, we have easily spent over €2,000,” she says.
Likewise, Ali Dunne (26), from Santry, is keen to give her little boy whatever his heart desires.
“We just booked a venue and there will be kids entertainment and food. He is wearing a designer suit and we booked a hummer. When you think about it, it’s just like a mini wedding,” she says.
Swarovski-encrusted dresses and designer suits are also sold on popular buy and sell websites, as parents try to make a few quid back on expensive ‘worn once’ outfits.
However, parents hoping to cut costs by purchasing pre-worn outfits will struggle to find cheap deals.
The majority of the second-hand McGregor-style three-piece suits and custom-made dresses posted for sale cost more than the average wedding dress.
One seller, hoping for a quick deal posts: “Stunning Louis Copeland communion suit navy light blue check €650 comes with navy moccasins size 13 and white dolce and gabanna shirt.”
While another writes: “Petit designer communion dress complete with shoes 2x bags, umbrella and hair clip, literally worn for a couple of hours, cost over €1,000 sell for €550
With no end to the extravagance of the day, there is everything from hoverboards and giant 15ft inflatable slides for sale on Adverts.ie and Donedeal.ie.
“This slide is 15ft high and comes complete with electric fan, steps and slip sheet which protects the slide itself,” writes a seller.
“It is ideal for children aged 2-14 and is especially useful for communions, confirmations, birthdays or any occasion where children are present.”
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says that “preparing for a First Holy Communion is an exciting time, but with so many things to consider the costs can add up quickly”.
Urging cash-strapped families to avoid money lenders, the organisation adds: “Remember, if you do need to borrow money, different lenders charge different interest rates.
“For example, rates of moneylenders’ loans are typically higher than a bank or credit union. Never borrow from an illegal moneylender and make sure any moneylender you deal with is licensed by the Central Bank of Ireland. If you’re not sure, look up the Central Bank’s Register of Moneylenders.
“Try to avoid borrowing money or using your credit card for any of the expenses, if you can. Remember, you will have other expenses such as back to school costs that you will also need to budget for later in the year, so try not to get into debt for just one day.”