Going to birthday parties is a great way for children to learn how to socialize and to celebrate their friends, but for parents the cost of birthday party gifts can quickly add up. Here are ten birthday gift ideas for kids that are affordable and sure to please. As a bonus, many of these ideas encourage creativity and won’t clutter the house and thus will be very much appreciated by the birthday boy or girl’s parents, too.
1. Art supplies. Try looking for pads of paper, crayons, glue, markers and paints on clearance after the big back to school sales in the Fall. Stickers, sidewalk chalk and other fun extras can also be periodically found in clearance bins or at dollar stores. It’s probably best to leave out the glitter, unless you have a feud going on with the other parent (or want to start one!)
2. Age appropriate books are always a good choice. Again, you could visit the clearance section of your local bookstore to find bargain prices and stock up. Books with jokes or freaky facts are always a hit with the school age crowd.
3. Children that can write or are almost ready to will enjoy having their own journal to record their thoughts and feelings. Small diaries with a lock can be found for under 10 dollars or you can look for interesting notebooks at an art supply store. Try a journal with black pages and add a neon gel pen or two for a neat twist on the idea.
4. Puzzles and board games are fun for the whole family and are usually well under $20. Be sure to read the box to make sure that it will be age appropriate for the birthday child. There are many games available that are designated as being suitable for non-readers for the younger set.
5. Handmade gifts can be surprisingly well received by the younger set, just be sure the design appeals to their current idea of fashionable. A homemade cape or cloak is an easy idea that will provide hours of imaginative play. Other ideas are hats, mittens, scarves and other accessories. Duct tape wallets and purses are an easy idea that will appeal to older kids.
6. A cute coin bank with a bit of change already tucked inside is charming and might encourage the birthday child to think about saving some of their allowance. You could even make it a tradition and bring over bags of quarters for subsequent birthdays if you are particularly close to the child.
7. Older children will appreciate $10 gift cards to iTunes, Target, Starbucks or other places where they can get inexpensive treats. It might be best to consult the parents first to make sure you are giving a card to a place that they go to frequently so that it doesn’t become a chore to use the card.
8. Making a photo scrapbook or framing one particularly nice shot can be a special gift for a close friend. You can have digital prints made inexpensively at most drug or discount stores and can buy photo albums and frames that are designed for children to customize at craft stores.
9. If you like giving toys, look for toys on clearance every time you visit your favorite stores and buy a few to stash away for parties. Look for toys that are fun for boys and girls and don’t seem too dated (although depending on the age group of the children involved it might or might not matter that you bought last year’s hit toy).
10. If you are handy, you can make a small treasure box or jewelry box for the birthday child to keep their valuables in. You can find the boxes ready made at craft stores or look around for cigar boxes or other sturdy containers that you can decorate with paint, stickers and other trimming. You can even include a small packet of trading cards, hair ribbons or other small trinkets to get their collection started.
Bonus tip: Don’t spend too much money on wrapping paper that will just get tossed. If you have gift bags that can be recycled, use those. If not, you can wrap gifts in plain brown paper bags that your children have decorated or the comics section of the newspaper and be eco-friendly as well as thrifty. You can also find super cheap wrapping paper, bags, tissue paper and bows at the dollar store.