When there comes the time for your kids to attend birthday parties, you will be surprised that it is not all flowers and butterflies. Birthday parties are certainly fun, but they present an enormous constraint to parents’ emotions and budgets. The thing is that your kid might be invited to a party almost every week, especially if he is a popular kid at school, but those weekly celebratory events place you into a conflicting position: first you need to decide whether you can attend, then you need to buy presents and finally you have to clean up your schedule in order to bring the kid to the party and stay with him.
When it comes to birthday presents, most tips that work for adult presents can be applied to kids presents giving too, only this time you will be choosing a present for a person you don’t really know and whose interests are so different from yours, that it is a task ten times harder. But let’s look at some time-proven advice that will allow you to choose the perfect gift despite all obstacles:
1. Consider who your host is
Birthday presents for 1 year old are intrinsically different from birthday presents for 10-year-olds. Try to understand the other person by putting yourself in their shoes. While you can’t possibly go back in time, you can research where the person lives, what her parents do and which groups or activities she attends. It will be easier to form a full portrait of someone else’s kid if your children grew up together. But if not – there are plenty of resources for you to understand their interests including her parents, teachers, tutors and your own kid.
2. Consider your budget
Even if you’ve been invited to a luxurious party in the most expensive restaurant in the city, it does not mean that you need to splurge on a gift. If you have a set gift budget for every birthday (say $15) it is perfectly normal to stick to it. Don’t be embarrassed by having to restrict your budget. After all, everyone’s situation is different and if your kid has been invited, that means that he is welcomed to the party no matter what present he will be bringing.
3. Consult with your child
Your kid is probably the best resource of information. So if he is old enough, take him gift shopping. If he is too little, you can still ask him a simple question such as “What do you think Jane will like?” to find out his opinion. By involving your child you teach them an important lesson of giving, he will also be more excited to give the gift and see the host’s reaction. He might have a particular thing in mind that he wants to give, and it might fall within your budget. So don’t be afraid of asking for his help – he will surely be happy to participate.
However, if your kid is just too little to make his contribution, don’t try to coerce answers from him. Just go to the store and find the gift that you personally find appropriate.
4. If in doubt – call the parent
You can’t spoil a surprise and ask the host to point out her perfect gift for you, but what you can do is call her parents and consult with them on the things their kid likes. Just say that you are trying to buy the most suitable gift that their kid would love and ask if they have any suggestions. Even better, suggest them a couple of options and let them choose one.
5. Search for the lists of best gifts
When you don’t seem to be particularly creative, you can always turn to Google for suggestions. There are hundreds of articles created around the theme of best presents for kids of different ages. The editors of family oriented and kids magazines specifically scour the stores in search for that perfect gift so why not use the results of their labor to make one of the kids happy?
6. Celebrate utility
When all else fails, adopt the shortcuts and buy a gift card. Even though it does seem non-sensible to other people, it is definitely better than a random gift that you know the host won’t like. Often times when they can’t find the present, parents just snatch whatever they can find. This is a huge mistake. Instead of a gift that a birthday girl or boy can’t use or don’t like, you can present a card to the store or a value pass to an indoor playground. Certainly, having options is better than having none.
7. Do the stalking
Another strategy that you can resort to when there is not enough information to make a decision. In an age of online media, everyone has their own social media profiles. Even the little kids. See if they feature the hobbies or interests that you can use as a starting point in birthday party present search. If the kid does not have Facebook, her parents surely do. Parents often post information and photos with their kids, giving away the precious insider tips about the perfect birthday present.
8. Remember shared experiences
Most likely, your kid already invited the birthday girl to his own party last year so you can remember what kind of gift she brought. Her choice will inform your choice and you can mirror it or choose a similar item. Also, remember the experiences the kids had. Perhaps they play games together, or they love walking and playing at the beach. You can buy or make a gift that reminds them of the experience they had. Print a photo of them two and attach it to the present – it will how much your kid appreciates being the part of a birthday girl’s life.
9. Make a mindmap
More of a technique than a method, the mind map creation allows you to generate and brainstorm ideas quickly and efficiently. Here is how you do it: list all the information about the host that you’ve been able to find: hobbies, interests, sports. Then try to come up with one present idea per one line. This technique helps you jot down all the ideas, get rid of the bad ones and find the best presents that the person will certainly like.
Birthday presents are an indispensable part of every great party. Gift giving might be hard but it is doable. It is a perfect opportunity to give your kid a lesson of giving and gratitude. One last important question that a lot of parents face is whether they should open the gifts at the party. If you know the presents are going to be opened in front of everyone, make sure your child knows what he is giving (in case you bought and wrapped the present yourself) and add a sweet note inside the present so that the birthday girl could read it.