Another Weekend, Another Birthday Party | Our Favorite Birthday Gifts Ideas for Kids
The perfect gift, a gift from the heart, a gift that brings a smile and a huge “thank you”. How are we to know what that gift is? Since I have a lot of nieces and nephews and my boys have a lot of buddies, I’ve been to my share of birthday parties over the years. Here are some ideas to help you find the gift that will bring that smile.
I have had parents ask what is on my kid’s list before a party. It’s a good idea to maybe have your son or daughter come up with a little list that you can share with parents. Your guidance might be needed for this list or you could have a “circle everything in the catalog” moment.
Themes! I love a good theme party, and finding a gift that coincides with Mickey Mouse, trains, princesses, or Star Wars can be a good indication of what the child is into.
I know cards are thought to be a waste of money, but some of my favorites that have been given to my boys over the years have been when the kids make their own cards and attach it to the gift. The pictures and things they write are priceless. And, for you, it costs nothing.
What about the days you are pushed and have no time? Pretty much everyday, right? I have a stash of Target (seriously, we should get discounts for the amount of times we mention this store in our blog) clearance items in the basement. Or my favorite store and one that never fails in me in a pinch: the ATM drive-thru. Because what kid has ever been sad about some sweet moolah with Uncle Rico? Want to make it a bit more fun? Put it in a balloon with some confetti and let the birthday girl or boy pop that baby!
Keep reading for more ideas for birthday gifts from the Mama Knows It Team!
Birthday presents don’t have to be expensive or elaborate to be special. My goal when shopping for a gift for the little kids in my world is to find something that fits their interests but is not something they would just pick up in the store. Looking back, my favorite buys have involved some sort of theme. For about $20 you can get a nice picture book and a nice add-on that fits with the story. Parents love it because, well...books. And kids love it because they get to open two gifts. Here are some quick ideas:
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and a box of 64 Crayola crayons (with the sharpener, of course)
- Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg and any adventure themed board game (Forbidden Island for older kids or Wild Animalopoly for youngsters)
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey and a teddy bear
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling and a magic kit
- Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel and a framed picture of the birthday kid and your child—besties! (Thank you, Elizabeth A, for this gift idea!)
For an added touch, have your child write a little note in the front cover of the book and it will have special memories for years to come.
Looking for a more bundled theme gift? My sister-in-law has clever go-to: She makes a personalized lap tray by painting the birthday child’s name on it. She fills the side pockets with paints, brushes, coloring books, crayons, and art supplies. This is a great all-in-one gift with a nice personal touch.
Ok, with a show of hands, whose kids need more “stuff”? That’s what I thought. Every time I am shopping for a birthday gift the image of that poor mama standing off to the side while their kid opens yet another Lego set or Shopkins package and she’s thinking to herself: “Great, yet another thing I’ll suck up with the vacuum or step on and suffer the pain of all pains.” There has to be a better way, amiright?
Kids just don’t need THINGS. So, what’s a mama to do if she doesn’t know the birthday kid well enough to figure out what else to get them? Take these tips from a mama who has approximately 70 possible birthday invites a year thanks to our insistence that our trio be in different classrooms (a whole other blog topic):
- Movie Theater Gift Card: Bundle a gift card with a few movie-theater size candy packs and a schedule of the upcoming kid-friendly new releases at your local theater.
- Dragons Love Tacos: Who doesn’t love a good book AND food? Combine the awesome book Dragons Love Tacos with a Chipotle gift card. Que bueno!
- Museum Passes: If you’re buying a gift for a child who is a family friend that you know well, consider buying some day passes to a local children’s museum, art museum or zoo. The key is to confirm that they don’t already have a family pass. If they don’t, they’ll love that you’ve given them a day to experience something new!
- Build Your Own [Insert Food] Kit: Many families are looking for new activities they can do together without leaving home. Why not buy some mini pizza crusts (Boboli are our fave), a can of sauce and some cheese, along with the Melissa and Doug Pizza kit. Another great option is to buy pancake mix and syrup and add it to the Melissa and Doug Pancake set.
Over the summer my daughter and I attended a birthday party for a little girl from her preschool class. I don't know the parents and only know the classmate from the brief interactions at school, but while RSVPing I was excited to find out he daughter loved girlie things such as dolls and ponies. My daughter prefers dinosaurs and cars so this would be a fun change of pace while birthday shopping.
Once I was in the store and in the toy aside my excitement dwindled as I began to wonder what she already had. Too risky for anything Frozen. Other Disney princess dolls...who knows? I finally settled on a nice Barbie and pony set, hoping she would be satisfied even though I felt like it was a "meh" gift.
At the party I paired up with another mother I knew from preschool. We discussed what each other bought and I was thoroughly impressed with her gift of a Build-A-Bear gift certificate. I mean, what kid doesn't love stuffed animals?
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'll "borrow" this gift idea in the near future. It is clever and universal and gives the child something to look forward to once the festivities are done. Not to mention some great memories waiting to be created.
With my oldest child having recently started Pre-K, we have only just begun the birthday party circuit where we don’t really know the birthday boy or girl and haven’t met their parents yet. Before our first party last month, I was starting to stress a bit that I had no idea what gift to buy (if only this post had existed then!). Then I remembered a trick that my brilliant sister-in-law told me: “Have your own child pick out the gift for their friend; it will be a guaranteed hit.”
So, I brought my daughter to the store, explained to her beforehand that we were buying a gift for her friend’s birthday party, and asked her to think about what she knew her friend liked. She immediately exclaimed: “Rainbows! Candy! Play-Doh!” Why hadn’t I thought of this before?! My daughter was the untapped resource into what her friend likes. And of course she knows; they hang out all day together. And my daughter was so excited to give her friend what she picked out (Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Candy Jar Set). I told you my sister-in-law was brilliant.