ThreeJars Daily: Great (Cheap) Kids’ Birthday Party Gifts

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Great (Cheap) Kids’ Birthday Party Gifts

Your child just got another Evite for a classmate’s party? Don’t panic. We’ve got five fabulous, thoughtful gift ideas that won’t send you to the poorhouse.

By Susannah Felts

Give ’em the gift of song.
What gift has more sincerity and thought behind it than a music mix? Your child will have as much fun assembling the compilation as his friend does listening to it. “My 4-year-old son is constantly invited to birthday parties, and it was getting ridiculous, we were spending so much money on presents,” says Damaris Santos-Palmer, a mother of two in California. “Now we have him make a CD with his favorite songs. Every time there is a party, I’ll burn a CD, and he decorates the cover.”

Get personal.
Instead of going for the hottest toy, think of what activities the birthday child loves, and get something along those lines. For just $5 or $10, you can get a gift that a child will truly enjoy and put to good use, says Lisa Kothari, a party planner in Seattle. Think small craft kits, a ticket to a local attraction or movie theater, or even a gift card—for iTunes, or to the child’s favorite ice cream shop.

Stock up during sales.
Ever see a discounted toy and think, “What a great deal! But [your kid’s name here] already has that/doesn’t need that.” Hold it! Scoop up one—or more—for future gifts while the getting’s good. “I have three children, ages 4, 6, and 8,” says Josephine Geraci of Lloyd Neck, New York. “I know they are going to be invited to parties for kids ages 4, 6, and 8. I buy at least two gifts for boys and girls in each category and I'm not running around at the last minute spending a lot more money than I had budgeted for.”

Go homemade.
No, we don’t mean a pencil drawing of a cat (though that’s a good gift for Grandma). Have your child put together a kit, like a “Snow Day Fun Kit,” with a jar of homemade cider and cookie or cocoa mix. Or help your child make an easy craft the birthday child can use. You may be surprised what a hit it’ll be. “For many of the parties my children went to when they were young, I made simple capes—hemmed a rectangle of fabric, gathered it at the neck, added Velcro fasteners,” says Linda Carlson of Seattle. “When my daughter was in high school, my husband ran into a mother and she said, ‘I remember your family! Your wife made a cape for my older child that is still in our dress-up box!’ ” We doubt a plastic toy would be half as memorable.

Susannah Felts also writes for Health, Spry,, and other magazines and web sites.


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