Stuff moms should consider: keeping a birthday party shelf stocked

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Pickup at the store option, easier with no kids

The frequency of birthday parties, once your children are in daycare or school, can be overwhelming. That’s why I maintain a very low price point for gifts (higher for a good friend or a cousin) and try to implement efficiency measures like buying multiples.

We keep a shelf in the garage filled with potential birthday party gifts in an effort to avoid last-minute dashes to the toy store with kids in tow on the way to a party.

If I take my daughter to the toy store with me before a birthday party — and I try not to do that — I often confuse her by buying whatever we pick in triplicate or even quadruplicate.  But I’m thinking that if Sabine will enjoy a headband-making kit, so will Joey (a girl) and Zoe and Chloe. Yes, those are really the names of my daughter’s good friends.

My husband is particularly good at keeping our birthday party stash stocked because whenever he orders online, if he needs to get to a certain shopping cart value to get free shipping, he’ll throw in a couple of extra rubber footballs or packs of Pokemon cards that my son can give as birthday gifts.

Art supplies, puzzles, and outdoor toys like balls and stomp rockets rank very highly on my go-to birthday party gifts.

Tips on affordable birthday gifts

This week I put together a collection of kids’ birthday gift ideas under $10 on the ToysRUs shop on eBay.

My husband is the master of avoiding shipping charges and he described for me a couple of scenarios in which he might order online and pick up in the store.  I tested this trick out a few days ago.

What I ordered online was retrieved at the customer service counter. Two advantages for me this particular time: Now I had a present at the ready for a LEGO-themed slumber party that night (along with one more gift for the bank) – and – I didn’t have to bring my daughter through the aisles of the store.

I try not to stress about buying a unique gift for my kids’ schoolmates. I figure that a child who is having a party with 10 friends is receiving so many gifts, they can hardly deal with it. A book or a new set of markers will be used eventually. Once we gave a birthday boy a headlamp, which I still maintain is one of the coolest things for a kid to own, and my own child felt disappointed by the reaction of the crowd during gift-opening to his headlamp contribution. I’d still argue that this Batman headlamp for $9.99 is a great gift. (Comes in Hello Kitty and Monster High flavors, too.)

Do you have any guidelines or go-to gifts?

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