It’s What Mamas Have to Say Monday! Each Monday, our panel of mommy bloggers weighs in on wacky questions that we – or you – think up. Have a question you want our panel to answer? e-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll notify you if your question is selected!
Here’s what mamas are saying today!
Question: Do you have go-to gift ideas for kids’ parties? What do you think is the appropriate amount to spend on kids’ gifts?
My go-to present for the past few years has been PJs (we mostly go to girl parties). I know it sounds pretty lame, but they are a surprisingly big hit. Most parents appreciate that is something useful (and not another plastic toy) and most girls love to wear PJs with their favorite character on it. Target usually has nightgowns that are about $15. I follow the current fad of my daughters and their friends. So far, we have done Elmo, Tinker Bell, Dora, Disney Princesses, and this year – unicorns with rainbows (my four-year-old daughter’s favorite nightgown ever). You just can’t go wrong with unicorns and rainbows.
*Sarah Knight is co-founder of Mamas Against Drama and bought herself bunny footie pajamas at Target last year. She loves them, but will not be posting a picture. You can follow her on Twitter at @sarahsknight
I have to confess, my go-to gift is a bit…boring. It’s a $25 gift card for Barnes & Noble. My daughter got one once as a gift, and she made THAT face when she opened it (You know…the one where you are embarrassed you raised such an ungrateful wretch…). BUT – when we walked into the book store with her and told her she had $25 to spend on anything she wanted (Okay, let’s be real. We had very real veto power – she wasn’t going to walk out of there with anything crazy like a cookbook for me to make her cupcakes or anything), she lit up like the steak I set on fire in the oven. Anyhow, she loved it so much that we now give it as a gift nearly every time. Yup, that’s us – bringing sad sighs and ungrateful grimaces to birthday boys and girls everywhere…
*Shannon Hembree is the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. She wishes that someone would give HER a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Even more than that, she wishes she had time to make use of it! You can follow her on Twitter @shannon1hembree.
Books! Always a book and not more than $20.
*Wendy writes truthfully about life in New York City with twins plus one at Mama One to Three. She includes many references to wine and coffee. Find her using bad judgment and even worse language on Twitter, @mamaonetothree, and Facebook.
It seems that I am always stumped on this one whenever a party rolls around- and then again when it comes time for the twins to go to a party- or even all three. Do I get a huge gift from 3 boys? Or three smaller gifts? or do I get an average priced gift so as not to be over the top? I would say that for one child, I would give a gift in the $25 range. It’s hard though when we attend a birthday party and all three are invited- chances are these are our friends and have been to ours- so they have in turn given two gifts for the twins, and one for B. Oh the intricacies!!!
I like to find cool and smart gifts at Barnes and Noble- they’ve done a really great job with upgrading their toy department with games and toys by BToys, Lazoo, etc. I also love to give book gift cards- and if there is a girl in the tween years I found this site http://www.fashionplaytes.com/#axzz26dQ8mbOd Where she can design her own outfit as I have provided the gift card. Perfect for ages 5-10 ish I think. Oh who am I kidding- I have boys. Maybe she hates it. At least it’s original.
Also there is gifthero.com which can if nothing else provide you with some ideas based on age. It’s a start when you’re clueless and have a matter of hours to find something at Target. Oh wait- is that just me?
*Farrah finds sporadic moments to jot down her adventures at The Three Under. Her 3.5 year old and 21 month old twins are all boys. Someday she will own nice furniture again. Catch up with what she’s dealing with on Twitter as @momofthreeunder and Facebook.
Whew. Birthday parties.
If I waited until I remembered that there was a party coming up (which I usually remember on the day-of), all our little birthday friends would receive random household items wrapped in Christmas paper. So what we do instead is stock up on a whole bunch of one thing ahead of time and give it to everyone in that age group that school year.
So, for example, last year all the little turning-6s got a bundle of white T-shirts tied up with ribbon and a set of fabric paint and fabric markers. (Cheap as dirt at Target, and the kids loved it.) All the turning-9s and turning-10s got a Barnes & Noble gift card and a digital bookmark that counts how many minutes you’ve been reading. (Slightly more expensive than dirt… but there are fewer parties for that age group.)
Still trying to figure out what our one-size-fits-all gifts will be this year, so I’m interested to see what others do.
*ML has a son and daughter who are both, thankyoujesus, past diaper age. She is a freelance writer and editor, as well as the author of the humor column, I Miss You When I Blink. Follow along on Twitter (@wheniblink) and Facebook.
My go-to gift for “big kid” parties is usually a gift certificate to a bookstore. Kids get SO MANY toys. My girls have more crap than they can play with in several lifetimes. Books NEVER get old! Plus, we are a house full of book nerds! Books can be passed down through siblings, saved for future generations, or donated to schools/libraries when the kids outgrow them. Plus, with the technology saturated world we live in – it’s a great habit for kids to get into! For babies, I love to buy clothes. It’s so much fun to shop for teeny tiny outfits, especially the shoes!!! As for the amount – it depends upon the child. If it’s a classmate that I don’t know PLUS I have to go suffer through a germ infested birthday party at Chuck E Cheese or Pump It Up – I tend to give $15-$20. If it’s a child I’m close with I give between $25-$50.
*Tracy Winslow is one of the top four funniest people at her address. She lives with her husband and two daughters in California. You can read more of their hilarious antics at http://www.momaical.com and follow her @Momaical and http://www.facebook.com/momaicalblog
I can’t say that I really have any “go to” gifts but I do try and think about what Evans was “into” at the age of the birthday boy or girl, assuming they are under the age of 2. I remember my mother always having very strict birthday gift budgets when I was growing up but since we have yet to get to an age where we are attending many birthday parties (many fewer now that we are back in Germany), I haven’t been super strict yet. We are mainly attending parties of our friend’s children and not necessarily classmates of Evans. I typically spend between $25-$35 on gifts but try to put enough thought into a gift so that it appears nicer, instead of picking up the first piece of plastic in a toy store that I come across. I am definitely interested in hearing what other mom’s have to say about this. Evans has always (in all two of years of life) received nice gifts so I try and reciprocate but do think about when the time will come where we are attending MANY more birthday parties and it might not always be so easy to bring the nicest gift every time!
*Sarah Deaner is ex patriot living in the land of sauerkraut and bratwurst. She is a STHM to her two year old son. When she is not out and about being yelled at by Germans, Sarah can be found at www.gleatieanddeaner.blogspot.com and Sarah Gleaton Deaner on Facebook
That’s all the mamas have to say this week. Check back next Monday for another wacky (and yet profound and insightful…) round of answers from the mamas!