Pondering a Child’s Birthday Gift?

A child’s birthday party is not always such a simple affair as an afternoon of celebration and cake!  Thus parents often wonder how to please a child on this meaningful day.  Never fear!  There are numerous unique and creative ways parents can resolve the question that pops up throughout the year.

The Card

Not all gifts require a purchase; instead, parents can encourage a present from the heart, a colorful illustration, handwritten letter, or a combination of the two.  As children become familiar with the art of expressing friendship through reflection, they learn handmade gifts have a beneficial value!

Tip: Consider folding the card in a creative way, such as into a scroll, star, or airplane to ensure it’s treated with care, as well as noticed.

Likes and Dislikes

Choosing a gift is no longer the responsibility of mom! Kids should participate in the discussion and assist in the selection process.  Begin by asking, “What does he or she like?”  Perhaps the classmate enjoys talking about science or books, which influences the decision. Even if your child doesn’t know the classmate well, birthdays can introduce a new passion, perhaps a hands-on activity, skill, or craft.

Kudos to parents who add to the invitation preferences such as “hair accessories, dolls, and puzzles” or “costumes and science.”  It’s a big help to parents who need guidance!

How much do you spend?

Leah Ingram, gifts and etiquette author, writes, “Don’t feel like you have to spend a set amount, just because that’s how much others spend (or others have spent on you in the past). A good rule of thumb is, the younger the child, the less you need to spend.  A three-year-old will be just as happy with a squeaking duck as a princess costume.”  Close associations matter.  Most parents will spend more for a child’s closest friend, $20 to $25, than a classmate, $10 to $20. Creating a budget forces a child to make smart choices!

Pass a Book Title Forward  

Parents cannot go wrong by promoting books.  Consider high-interest, popular titles that your child loved or you know well.

  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (four to seven.)
  • Stink or Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald (five to eight.)
  • The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne (six to nine.)
  • Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage (nine and older.)
  • Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (nine and )

It’s okay to purchase a “like new” book or give a good friend or cousin your child’s copy.  Most books are read one time. Passing along a beloved book extends the experience from one hand to another.

The Hands-on Experience

Tissue paper flying in the air leads to a chef’s hat and apron set!  Donning these clothes might encourage time in the kitchen and learning about healthy foods.  How about the card games “Go Fish,” “Crazy Eights” and “Uno?”  The outcome is time for the family to think strategy while strengthening ties.  Gifts can offer a one-time experience and promote individual or group happiness!

Other ideas:

  • Foster artistic skills by giving Crayola markers or crayons, or both, and a sketch pad!
  • Without buying a kit, create a sewing kit comprising a semi-thick board with shoe strings to create pictures, or an embroidery hoop, floss, and needle for the beginner.
  • Offer string, beads, and sequins to create the ultimate craft.
  • For the future cook, provide two easy recipes and a bowl, spatula, and whisk.

To Open or Not?

Towards the end of a party, the time arrives to open gifts. Young children gather tightly around, offering verbal commentary, while older children meander away from the crowd, seemingly bored.  Modern birthday parties have altered the moment by focusing on a wide array of games, bonding kids together and concluding with consuming a scrumptiously moist cake! After following etiquette’s standards for decades, parents question the request of “No gifts, please!”  Most children have enough and do not need more; therefore, is it acceptable to show up empty-handed? Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, states, “If the host says, “No gifts, please” on an invitation, it’s good manners to comply.”




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