As a mum of 2 school age boys, we are now in the throes of birthday party times, where the kids get invited to parties from classmates and more often than not I don’t know the child well or their family…HELP!
I am not sure about you but even as a toy blogger I have found picking the perfect gift for a child can be quite tricky, especially one you don’t know very well.
Yes there it is I said it. Well that was awkward…but it is now out in the open.
I honestly do find it hard to gift that ideal present, even though I have an arsenal of ideas and toys that I know kids will like… I still find it really difficult to nail that perfect gift for the birthday child. I know it doesn’t have to be perfect but loved and cherished I would be happy with. I also don’t want the child to open it up and say “Oh, I have that already…”
What do you do?
I send a text message to the parent to find out what the child likes or is hoping for on their birthday wish list. Mainly so I don’t double up on a toy that they may already own and also so I don’t get them something they don’t like.
Is that being too nice? Is that appeasing the child too much and turning them into a spoilt one, always getting the gift they have asked for? Should they just be happy with whatever present they receive? Of course they should, however, I think one of the problems these days is kids seem to have everything… my kids included!
Another reason I find it difficult when choosing a gift for a classmate is budget.
How much is the right amount?
I think that all depends on your own financial circumstances.
We don’t have huge sums of cash in our family. For each classmate’s birthday party we are invited to our budget is normally $20 - $25 per child for class parties.
However, $20 these days doesn’t buy great quality toys. More often than not for that budget it is poorly made, plastic, likely to break and then end up in landfill, about 2 weeks after we have gifted it.
I do love to gift books, puzzles or board games as I think they are classic gifts that are always well received and stand the test of time and the latest toy fads. Again, they aren’t always in the $20 budget.
Another birthday gifting tip is I buy toys that I find on sale during the year to use for school birthday party gifts to help reduce costs.
Another solution I have been doing over the last few years for our family and friends in order to:
a) Reduce the plastic
b) Give a gift that the child will enjoy
c) Not break the bank
is to ask for a group gift…
It certainly isn’t a new idea, but unlike wedding gift registry’s not everyone warms to it…nor like to do this option.
I understand giving money is perhaps a strange concept for a child’s birthday gift but when the contribution goes towards a larger present that is usually a toy of higher quality, perhaps sustainable and creates lasting memories for the child, then to me I am happy with this easy gifting solution.
I am not talking about contributions of $40-50 but rather whatever suits your family budget. There should be no pressure or expectation about the amount being contributed from the parent involved.
In my close friendship group of female friends, we decided a few years ago to all gift $20 towards a gift for the birthday child in question and it means the child has $120 to spend on a larger toy. It may be contributions towards a wooden toy kitchen, a dolls house, large LEGO set, a scooter, an experience like a play or fun park, a balance bike or watch.
My eldest had a party last year for his 8th birthday (my kids only gets parties every 2nd year just I did as child) and as such there were 20+ school friends who came to his party.
Now as a toy blogger, we obviously own a stack of toys however; we also live in a small townhouse, so space is at a premium. I was quite anxious about receiving 20 different small gifts which a) is over the top for one child but b) we also don’t have the space to house 20+ toys!
I have explained to my children that we don't need any more toys but many people like to give a present at parties.
When I asked my son what he wanted as a present, he was wishing for a point and shoot camera and a large Lego set he had his eye on.
So I braved up and sent an email out…
I said he didn’t need any presents as their presence is enough, however if people still wanted to gift him something they could contribute some birthday money, approximately $10 towards the larger gifts he wanted.
So how did that go down?
I have to say it was a positive experience and the majority of people were happy to give a handmade card with their gifted monetary contribution. Others gave either a gift or a gift and money…those gifts were received with love and happiness as they were given with much thought for the birthday boy and he adored receiving them.
We added some more money towards the gifted contributions and he received two really awesome presents that he had wished for on his birthday.
I have had other parents follow my lead and do the same thing, request for a small contribution towards a big ticket gift that the child really wants. As a parent for me, it makes it easier to gift, less stress and I know the child will receive an awesome gift they wish for.
Another solution I have seen is to ask for donations towards charity and we have given money for a child who wanted to help refugees in Africa.
How do you manage birthday gifting in your household? I would love to hear your thoughts, tips or advice on making birthday gifting stress free and budget friendly.
Toy Blogger over at Kids Gifts and Toys
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Gorgeous images have been found via Unsplash.