What to give? The gifts keep giving….

Birthday party gifts can be outrageously expensive. Especially when you don’t know the child well, and you want to purchase something “popular” because you are sure it will be a hit.
But when your children are invited to so many birthday parties a year (we have double, and imagine households with 3 and 4 children!), buying a gift, paper to wrap it in, ribbon and a bow, plus a card every time can get expensive.

The other problem is, short notice. We’ve gotten numerous invitations that were only 2-3 days before the party! First, I want to lecture those parents, and remind them that giving one notice is the kindest thing you can do, and can also make YOUR party run smoother. However, what do you do when you are the recipient of that last minute invitation. And your child of course, wants to go. Last minute shopping trip, what to get? Stressful, isn’t it?
Well, I took my own “christmas shopping” advice, and reserved a shelf in our hall closet to start stocking up on gifts. The thing I found, was when I needed a last minute gift, I always had one. I waited until after Christmas and purchased several things at 50-75% off. I got Barbie dolls for less than $5. Art Sets for $2 a piece. Hot Wheels Sets for $6 a piece and the list goes on and on. The other thing I did, was watch for Wal-greens and other discount places to have specials on certain toys. Our local Wal-greens runs specials several times a year where you can buy 3 toys for $10. They are pretty cool toys and perfect for birthday party gifts. I would stock up each time. So watch for sales, coupons, discounts, BOGO sales, etc. These can wind up saving you TONS of money in the long run and you’ll always have something for someone. Also, watch garage sales, and flea markets. Often brand new items are still sealed and would make perfect gifts! Sometimes even baby clothes with the tags still on (because the little one outgrew it too fast, etc). So make sure to keep your mind open to the endless possibilities to be frugal!

Another thing I’ve learned over the years, is that children LOVE to unwrap a gift. Yeah, the gift bag with the pretty tissue paper sticking out, is exactly that – pretty. But it’s not fun to just yank tissue paper out! It’s all in the tearing, and discovery of what’s inside! So how do you save on wrapping paper? It doesn’t have to break the bank. Look for alternative methods. Garage sales, are a great place to start. Look for anything that can be used to wrap gifts–wrapping paper (obviously), wallpaper, drawer liner, even scraps of fabric. Look for yarn and pieces of lace or other trim to use instead of ribbon. In other words, just use your imagination! You can even wrap the gift in TISSUE paper and the tearing fun is still in place. PLUS those gift bags can really add up! I know that some like to wrap the gifts in newspaper comics, but this is really not that great of a practice – the black print gets all over the child’s hands, which in turns often get’s all over the cute outfit they are wearing, and spreads to other places as well. So avoid the newspaper method. I know it’s frugal, but it’s also a pain for the parent of the gift recipient.

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