Certain times of the school year tend to bring out a ton of birthday party invites for my kids. Is it just our family? I feel like there is a huge rush of birthday parties in August, another in January and a third in April and May. Although I don’t see any rhyme or reason for these little baby booms, I do see that our birthday gift buying budget ebbs and flows. Since I’m trying to stick to a budget that works throughout the whole year, I’ve stumbled upon a few ways to keep birthday-buying affordable and under control, while still letting the kids give their friends the cool gifts that they want.
- Think about who your child’s friends are. In my immediate area, “invite the whole class” parties don’t really happen anymore; my kids each have probably 8 or so friends whose birthday parties they’ll be invited to. Remember that if a classmate that your child barely knows sends out an invite, you don’t necessarily have to say yes.
- Put aside a certain amount each month. Even if there are no birthday parties coming up in, say, October, November and February, put some money aside for gifts anyway. If you anticipate having a total of 15 children to buy for over the course of the year, figure out how much money you need to set aside each week or month to avoid putting sudden dents in the budget at birthday-party-dense times.
- Stock up on fun gifts at certain times of the year. After Christmas and Easter are good times to get good deals on toys. At any time of year, if you see something really cute at a great price, pick up a couple and offer them to your child when she’s invited to a party. Even if she doesn’t want to use them for her friends, you can probably give them to a niece or nephew (or to your own child!) at some point.
- Consider making gift baskets. A child with a summer birthday, for example, might appreciate a toy bucket filled with sand toys, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, bicycle streamers, water balloons and other warm-weather toys. A child whose birthday is in January might like a build-your-own-snowman kit: a scarf, mittens, coal, a plastic carrot and a top hat. These are fun to put together and are usually less expensive than popular toys.
- Consider giving the gift of an experience. Maybe your daughter would love to take her best friend for a manicure and a hot chocolate (and her best friend’s mom might enjoy having a couple of hours to herself). If you have a minor league or non-professional sports team in your area, tickets are usually fairly inexpensive, and make a great gift for the birthday boy or girl.
Finally, no matter what you give, stress to your child the importance of remembering that it’s the thought that counts. If you and your child think that the guest of honor will appreciate a gift, then it does not matter if you bought it on sale or put it together yourselves.
Have you given any untraditional or unique gifts for a birthday? Share your best ideas!