Kids birthdays mean mean one thing to them: Gifts—lots and lots of gifts. Whether you're a relative who needs a gift for an upcoming birthday or a parent trying to budget presents for all your child's friends, it's smart to think ahead. Take the child's personality into consideration and present a gift that they will love.
Unless you're purchasing a gift for an older child who has requested clothes, your safest bet is to bring a toy to the party. Naturally, you want the child to be excited when she opens your gift and a new sweater—however cool you think it is—may be met with a polite thank you rather than the enthusiasm you hoped for.
It's difficult to know what types of gifts are best for the birthday girl or boy. Save yourself the headache and ask the parents for ideas. Even if mom won't give you a specific idea, she may lead you in the right direction by suggesting art supplies or outside toys. Some parents or children may have a "wish list" available to share with you, which makes the decision much easier. You can also get ideas by looking at your own child's tastes or thinking back to the things that you enjoyed as a child. For example, if the birthday kid loves reading, he or she may enjoy getting a series of books that was one of your favorites as a child.
Many toys today offer add-on pieces, where the child can build up a set by getting more related items. If you know that the birthday kid has an interest in this type of toy, it's smart—and often inexpensive—to purchase something that goes along with it. Outdoor toys like frisbees, balls or horseshoes can be a hit with both boys and girls, making them an ideal first thought for a party, especially if the child has a birthday in the spring or summer time. Building blocks or toys that encourage learning may also be a hit with kids of all ages.
In general, most people bring a birthday present that falls into the $10 to $20 range. Of course, you are not limited to that amount of money if you have more to spend, and you can spend less if it's something that the child really wants or something special and meaningful you can make for the child.
When you have a lot of kids to buy birthday presents for, the costs can quickly add up. Look for ways that you can save money on kids birthday gifts. For example, if you only purchase gifts when you get a birthday invitation, you're probably going to pay full price for the item. Instead, pay attention to sales throughout the year and stock up when popular items go on sale. This way, you'll always have an item on hand for the next birthday party. You can also make a cheap gift look more expensive by purchasing themed items inexpensively and bundling them together in a gift basket. You could buy beach toys and put them all in a sand pail or buy a cheap DVD and a few snacks for a "movie night" package.