Seven Tips for Saving Money on Birthday Gifts



Birthdays are exciting milestones during childhood. Each new age brings new opportunities, new skills to learn and new experiences. For parents, birthdays are often bittersweet. We are excited to see our children grow, change and learn, but saying good-bye to the previous stage of childhood is often emotional. “I love and hate my son’s birthday,” Amber Stubbs, Olathe mom, says. “I love seeing him grow older and watching him become this amazing person—but every year I look back on his baby days and feel nostalgic.”

For many families, one part of birthdays is buying presents. Going overboard buying gifts is easy, and many parents are looking for ways to reign in birthday spending. Here are some tips from metro parents on how to slow your family’s spending at birthday time:

Plan ahead. Make a plan for how you will handle the party and gifts ahead of time. This will allow you to shop sales, pick up items on clearance and take advantage of valuable coupons.

Shop all year. This advice may sound like it would cause you to spend more, but shopping during off-seasons can add up to big savings. “I buy birthday gifts all year when things go on sale. It takes a bit of planning, but it can help make the money stretch further,” Amy Parks, Gardner mom, says. “I shop for Christmas during end-of-summer sales and for birthdays during end-of-winter sales. It is a great way to save money on toys and clothes.”

Know what your child wants. When your child expresses an interest, take note. If you have a running list of what your child would like, you can share it with family members and friends, allowing them to plan ahead and shop sales ahead of time.

Stick to a budget. If you need to set a budget for birthdays, set one and stick to it. Establishing a budget is a good way to keep the birthday party and gifts within a manageable amount and is also a way to keep things equitable among multiple children. “My kids know there is the same spending limit for each of them,” Laura Peters, Shawnee mom, says. “They don’t know the exact number, but it helps them understand when one child gets one large gift and another gets five small things. They all add up to the same amount—it is just about what each one wants.”

Think outside the box. Birthday gifts don’t have to mean toys. Experiences, events or even classes can be a wonderful gift. “For my daughter’s birthday, my mom paid for a year of dance lessons. Things were tight for us, and this allowed her to have something to look forward to every week. It was an amazing gift,” says Rachel Griffin, Kansas City, MO, mom.

Skip the trimmings. Wrapping paper, bows and cards are a quick way to add to the birthday budget. Consider reusing gift bags or finding other creative ways to package gifts. Children rarely take the time to admire the wrapping!

Join a shop and swap site. Many communities have shop and swap sites on social media. These are easy ways for parents to sell everything from baby supplies to kids clothes or party supplies. Toys can be purchased for a fraction of the price of a new toy, and you can help stretch your dollar. If you have your shopping list ahead of time, consignment sales are also great ways to buy gifts for less.

Decorations and Locations

In the age of Pinterest parties, the decorating and location of birthday parties can become very elaborate. However, many options won’t break the bank and can be great fun for your family and friends.

  • Consider hosting a party at your home or at a local park.
  • Make your own invitations, send them via email or invite people using social media.
  • Choose a few select pieces of party décor rather than decorating everything.
  • Make your own treats for the party, including your cake. This can be a fun activity to do with the kids!

Melissa Bellach is a freelance writer, wife and mother of two living in Overland Park.

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