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I Think I’m Cheap About Birthday Presents

I’ve always kept a gift drawer.  It used to be full of toys and books, baby clothes and bath salts.  Whenever it was someone’s birthday, I’d reach into the drawer, pull out a little gem, wrap it and I was done.  I liked this arrangement because it involved no urgent last-minute trips to the store and I could buy the gifts whenever they happened to be on sale cheap.

The downsides were that I often gave a gift that wasn’t exactly thoughtful, something the person wouldn’t love but that I’d give anyway because it was available, that often the gifts came across as cheap or weird because they were, and that I ran the risk of giving the same gift two years in a row because I’d found an AMAZING deal at Target on collectable megaphones.

Gradually the drawer has dwindled to just a few things and I mainly stock it only with things I LOVE so I can share them with friends and say, “This is one of my favorite books,” or “I love this movie so much I wanted to share it with you,” which statements are true and I still avoid last minute trips to the store. 

I’ve been to and hosted many kids’ birthday parties over the years and I’ve come to believe that I may be a bit cheap (or a lot cheap) about gift giving.  I’ve also come to believe that I don’t really care. 

Laylee’s eighth birthday party was this weekend and all of the gifts were lovely and thoughtful and covered a broad range of prices and it reaffirmed to me what I’ve always suspected.  The cost of a child’s gift has little to no bearing on how much delight the child will find in receiving it.  She loved all her gifts, regardless of price, and has had fun all afternoon using them.

When my kids first started attending their friends’ birthday parties, I was always worrying about what gifts other parents were sending.  Would mine look cheap or thoughtless in comparison?  But I soon realized that for most young kids, you could wrap up a shiny rock and a couple of Skittles and they’d be overjoyed.  Give them a $40 doll and they’d probably love that too. 

So I’ve started to look for things my kids love that don’t break the bank.  I add these to the gift drawer now instead of the after-Christmas clearance Lightning McQueen bath sets.  We like to give:

-good quality jump ropes

-journals that I buy in bulk

-our favorite story books purchased from the Scholastic book order at a good price with an inexpensive binding

-treats (buying a kid his own box of Fruit Loops just might be the best birthday present EVER)

-cool art supplies

-card games

-handmade presents like the pillow case Laylee recently sewed for her good friend and then rolled and tied with a sparkly bracelet I got on clearance.

Most of these presents cost less than $5.  All of them cost less than $10.  Yes, I’m cheap, but if I can make a kid happy on his birthday for $5, why would I spend $30?  What are your go-to birthday party gifts to save money and keep the kids happy?

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