San Diego Party Planner

8 Tips for Saving on Birthday Gifts

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8 Tips to Save on Birthday Gifts


I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’m always toting my kids to a birthday party. Buying all those gifts can be a real budget buster, and nobody wants to go into credit card debt trying to impress little kids (and their parents!) with lavish gifts. Below are some money-saving tips to save hundreds of dollars every year on birthday party presents.

1 Check Your Budget
This will be harder for some of you than for others, but I promise if you stop worrying about what other people think, you will automatically save some serious cash. Focus on your own finances, and spend only what you can afford.

2 Plan Ahead
Make a list of upcoming birthdays and parties, and factor in several last-minute invitations you hadn’t counted on. Computer-savvy mommas can set up a spreadsheet, but notebook paper also works just fine. If you have gifts ahead of time, you’re likely to spend less on a last-minute present.

3 Stock Up
Stocking up on gifts saves money on gas because you aren’t running to the store every time you get a birthday party invitation. I also tend to spend more when my own kids are with me helping me to pick out a present for their friend. It’s so comforting to know you have a stockpile of gifts in a big plastic tub somewhere for any birthday party invitation that may come your kid’s way. What to stock up on, you ask? Read on …

4 Know What a Kid Wants
Some classic, frugal gift ideas for kids of different ages include: stickers, crayons, sketch pads, baby dolls, Barbies, balls, puzzles, small cars, beads with string, lacing kits, Legos, tea sets, dinosaurs, Perler beads, DVDs and books.

5 Find Deals
Look at thrift stores, garage sales, consignment shops and Craigslist.com because usually a kid doesn’t care if something is used as long as it is useful to them. For new items, check back-to-school sales, sales after school has been in session a couple of weeks and going-out-of-business sales (think of the huge book store that just folded and the savings that were to be had!). There’s a large department store chain (hint: it has a bull’s-eye logo) that has great $1 stocking stuffer-type items year-round.

6 Get Crafty
One day, I ventured out to our local huge craft store armed with a 50 percent off coupon. I stocked up on about 20 sets of the following: 3 bottles of paint, a pack of paintbrushes, and 10 wooden magnets in different animal shapes. I spent about $5 per set and had the perfect rainy-day craft gift for just about any kid.

7 Card Trick
I haven’t bought a greeting card for a child in 10 years because they are expensive, and they just get thrown away (or recycled, as in my house). I used to make my own cards for kid parties, but then my own kids started wanting to do it. You can go old-school and use construction paper, or have your kids make a card on the computer.

8 Wrap It Up
If you have gift bags lying around the house, use them up! I’ve been known to put birthday gifts in Christmas gift bags—year-round—and have never had a kid complain. Otherwise, you can wrap gifts in the Sunday comics section of the newspaper or have your kids decorate plain copy paper with markers, stickers and rubber stamps. 


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Kerrie McLoughlin has a blast raising her five kids on a budget. For more frugal living ideas, head to TheKerrieShow.com.

Published: June 2013