In a span of about 4 weeks we had invitations to attend birthday parties for a six-year-old, a two-year-old, a-five year old, a six-year-old and a one-year-old. This means that my girls are lucky to have a lot of friends and our weeks can get a bit busy. It also means we have spent a fair amount of time shopping for birthday gifts lately.
Let me be honest shopping for other people’s children can sort of stress me out. I often feel clueless about the specific interests of a birthday boy or girl and a little baffled over the appropriate amount to spend, that coupled with my daughter’s love of picking things out for herself in stead of her friend almost make me want to give up attending birthday parties all together. To combat these moments of indecision and uncertainty I’ve developed a few tricks to help us shop for fun birthday gifts without losing our minds. The brilliant thing about these tricks? They work for just about any childhood age or developmental stage.
For one, we shop for parties in advance. Waiting to shop until the morning of the party is a recipe for much added stress. I give myself a break and get the shopping out-of-the-way with time to spare. We keep a small assortment of gift bags and colored tissue paper so gifts can be wrapped up easily without making a special trip to the wrapping aisle after we’ve most likely spent too much time the toy area with kids in tow already. Most importantly, to avoid the pitfalls of buying a Batman toy for a kid who thinks Spiderman rules and Batman drools we try to stick to the perennial winners of the kid sections of the store. This means we try to put together gifts around what kids always have fun with and even if they have multiples they will still get used. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sand buckets and shovels. Kites, hula hoops, jump ropes and balls. Art supplies, crayons, drawing paper, glitter glue or fancy colored pencils. Lastly, we try to concentrate on a few smaller things. A bag filled with more items – especially if they sort of go together – is usually much more impressive than one slightly larger gift. Last year several kids got bags full of summery outdoor toys – bubbles, chalk, large bouncy balls, a kite and sand bucket – and were thrilled with their haul.
Sticking to these few tricks has made birthday gift shopping a little bit easier to swallow. Now I just need to get my five-year-old to spend less time building her wish list as we shop.
Do your kids go to a lot of birthday parties? What are your favorite no-fail kid’s birthday gifts?