07 October 2005 @ 05:50 pm
Amount to spend for child's birthday gift  
What is the proper amount to spend on a child's birthday gift? I'm aware that this will vary wildly by location but just a range.

The recipient is going to be 4 years old. My daughter met her 3 weeks ago when she started preschool. I'm already struggling about what to get a child I don't really know. I don't want to show up at this party being totally cheap, but I also don't have a crapload of money to be spending. And let's be honest...this isn't a close, family friend or even a long-term friend. If my daughter winds up getting invited to a lot of parties this year, I need to keep things in check and be somewhat equitable amongst the kids.

Another factor I'm considering is that this doesn't appear to be one of the parties that is costing the parents a ton, where I would feel more obliged to spend more money because they're hosting a fabulous party with clowns and magicians and bounce houses, etc. As far as I can tell, it's going to be a low-key party at their home with making ice cream sundaes as the main event.

I was thinking of spending in the $15-20 range. Yay? Nay?
 
 
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
May Girlmays_rays on October 7th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC)
I'd probably spend about $20, if it were me -- that's just enough to get a decent, un-trashy toy or something.
lizzer01lizzer01 on October 7th, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)
a really great idea to get an in-expensive gift is go to the dollar store. you can find great things there, even name brand things! you'd be suprised at what you can find and the deals you can find!
The Rough Around the Diamondcarrot_princess on October 7th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC)
It may just be me, but I'm a bit wary of dollar store toys for gifts, esp. for younger children or children with younger siblings. There have been some paint issues and quality issues with dollar store gifts we've received. Not all of them, but it's something to be very careful of.

A four-year-old wouldn't be as much a concern with eating lead paint or swallowing toy bits, but if she has a younger sibling it could be an issue.
(no subject) - lizzer01 on October 8th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - carrot_princess on October 8th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - lizzer01 on October 8th, 2005 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - carrot_princess on October 8th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - glowbutt on October 8th, 2005 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Twirling like a dervish in the full moon's lightstarrchilde on October 7th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
I would agree with a gift that cost around $20.
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FIERCENESSpolymexina on October 8th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC)
i'd actually disagree with the barbie doll bit. if you don't know her parents, you don't know their politics... and they might not be okay with barbie.

why not give you daughter a spending limit? it's a budgeting lesson and a chance for her to decide what she wants to give her new friend. :)
(no subject) - ashy on October 8th, 2005 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eat_your_heart on October 8th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - polymexina on October 8th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clockworktomato on October 8th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jebovi on October 8th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - antibob on October 8th, 2005 01:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - foreverbeingnow on October 10th, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - smallraven on October 8th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - clockworktomato on October 8th, 2005 01:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - muffy on October 8th, 2005 01:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ehy2k on October 8th, 2005 04:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - polymexina on October 8th, 2005 07:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - goodgirlzero on October 9th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Rough Around the Diamondcarrot_princess on October 7th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
Yay. You're not the grandparents! I would think it was ridiculous if anyone spend more than $20 on my boys.
DramaGirl42: Cannibal - Leavesdramagirl42 on October 7th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
That's a reasonable amount to spend on anyone who is just an acquaintance, child or adult. You can get a nice board game or a decent bottle of everyday wine for that.
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(no subject) - dramagirl42 on October 8th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - journalismgirl on October 8th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - laura on October 8th, 2005 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - dramagirl42 on October 8th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dramagirl42 on October 8th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - carrot_princess on October 8th, 2005 12:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dorinne on October 8th, 2005 01:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
Collecting Blues and Greensjournalismgirl on October 8th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC)
I'd think that would be more than fine.

Heck, I'm 26 and I'd be very very happy if someone spent that much on a birthday gift for me!
Bettyblowtorch_betty on October 8th, 2005 12:05 am (UTC)
Sounds fine to me.
Nerdiaminfinite on October 8th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC)
I used to work at a toy store and the average parent would spend between 10 and 15 dollars for a preschool friend who isn't a close friend. I suggest a Groovy Girl..they have a Halloween one and since the birthday is in October, it would be fitting. You can buy them at Target and they come with cute outfits! A normal GG is $9.99 and a holiday one is $14.99. They also have Groovy Boys (you didn't mention if the birthday kid was a girl or boy). You can get away with an inexpensive gift and still make it look fantastic. Even something like a popcorn bowl with the kids name on it and a gift certificate for a rental at Blockbuster is a cute idea! Good luck!
The Most Fabulous Abbeabbeizfab on October 8th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC)
i work at blockbuster and two things...a)make sure to give enough to buy a cheap movie if the parents don't have a membership. thing $10 to $15 and b) kids LOVE being in charge of the spending. doesn't matter where really but the opportunity to have their own "money" and get to pick things out themselves is always great.

oh, and a third thing...if this child is annoying and/or unusually spoiled...please throw this idea right out the window.
Nerdiaminfinite on October 8th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC)
Also, anything by the company Melissa and Doug is fantastic. They have cute, reasonably priced things. :-)
eat_your_hearteat_your_heart on October 8th, 2005 01:15 am (UTC)
I think 15.00 is a reasonable amount to spend on a classmate.
Gift certificates are great gifts. 15.00 gift certificate to the movie theatre is enough for a movie ticket and some snacks. or a gift certificate to the bookstore for 15.00 could buy atleast a couple of books.
Amber Alertdread_pirate on October 8th, 2005 01:22 am (UTC)
Kids just don't appriciate gift cards :( I've learned that lesson several times...ungrateful buggers.
(no subject) - dorinne on October 8th, 2005 01:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - abbeizfab on October 8th, 2005 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
piperkipiperki on October 8th, 2005 01:21 am (UTC)
Depends on where you live; at that age I wouldn't go above $10-12, especially if you have to go to a lot of these. Here's a tip: go to the toy clearance aisle at Wal-Mart and stock up when they have leftovers (after Christmas, Easter, etc.). You can get Legos and stuff for half price and save them up for these birthday things.
sesmosesmo on October 8th, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)
A coloring book and washable crayons (about $6), plus large bouncy balls (set of 4, $4 at Target) and a glittery card ($2.50) in a pretty gift bag ($1, often the most played-with part of the gift) is our usual. I rarely spend more than $15, unless I know the child well, or it's something fancy.
dinosaurfacedinosaurface on October 8th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
Target has AMAZINGLY nice dollar items. stick a few in a basket, and you're set
lapennlapenn on October 8th, 2005 03:53 am (UTC)
To throw my two cents in, I think $15-20 is way to much for an acquiantance birthday. Say there are 10 kids in your daughter's preschool who invite her -- that ends up being somewhere around $200! Also, the parents aren't going all out, so it doesn't sound like they expect extravagent gifts.

I love the idea some people had, which is to buy some cheap coloring books and a pack of new crayons. I know that I adored getting new crayons when I was a kid.

Your daughter might also have some ideas of things her friend might like. Perhaps you can buy something small (little duplo set or the coloring book or something) and also include something your daughter made for her friend? I don't know how artsy you are, but it's possible that your daughter could make her friend a tshirt or decorate a pot that you could put a little plant in (also a cute, low key, original gift, and it doesn't have the dying stigma b/c it's not an animal). I'd try and find something inexpensive (but doesn't scream cheap) that is also new, inventive, or somehow original. There are only so many dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, etc that kids can own.

For the future, you might also try looking around at garage sales to stockpile different items. My mom and dad did this (mom hit sales and dad hit garage sales) for my whole childhood. When there was a birthday party, we went shopping in the little storeroom in the basement to find something appropriate. Garage sale items are just fine as long as they are cleaned up well and don't look worn. Think legos (when kids are older), duplos, musical instruments (like a xylophone or something -- Fischer Price makes a great kid's xylophone), or the like.

One last thought -- could you call up the parents and ask for some suggestions? They might know something their daughter already owns that could always use more pieces (again, duplos come to mind).

Good luck with the parties. This is only the first of many.
amanda descendinglistenshesings on October 8th, 2005 06:08 am (UTC)
glad I'm not the only one who thought this was too much. I wouldn't go more than $10, it's totally unnecessary. there are plenty of great gifts to be had for that price.
(no subject) - lapenn on October 8th, 2005 06:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
Beckybaybeegrrl on October 8th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC)
You know, I say get her a doll, or a maybe $20 gift certificate for Toys R Us. You don't want to spend too much since you haven't known this child long, if it were a relative I'd say spend 30 - 40, but a playmate for your little girl, a doll or something would be fine. Usually, if there are such decorations, the child will get a nice present from mom and dad, and the party alone will thrill her! I don't think you should feel the need to spend more, because they probably have the money, even if they decided awhile ago to save for it.
eefeef_ink on October 8th, 2005 06:16 am (UTC)
I would keep the spending to around $10. If there are going to be other parties, you're going to be buying a LOT of gifts for classmates, which will add up quickly.
Don't do a giftcard. They're nice for older people, especially teenagers who will hate what anyone else picks out, but kids won't appreciate them, and some people find it offensive because you didn't take the time to pick out a gift, and they know exactly what you spent.
I would go for colouring books, crayons, etc. Stickers are AWESOME to 4 year olds, even though they'll be sure to waste them. =P Those paint with water books were my favourite things when I was that age.
Loreeleyloreeley on October 8th, 2005 07:10 am (UTC)
Your range sounds totally sensible to me. The kid is 4, she really won't care either way! Just get her something fun and she will be happy.
Jennyjennythe_reader on October 8th, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
I would ask your daughter or the child's parents if she is really into anything (Dora the Explorer, horses, Barbie, and so on) and then put together a $15 gift set on that theme. Put in a small toy, a coloring book & crayons, a book (paperbacks for small children are usually around $5), maybe a hairclip or pin, and anything else you can think of that fits.

Good luck, and have fun.
Miss Spiritual Tramp of 1948mischiefmydear on October 8th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC)
You've received a ton of comments, but here are some ideas I really thought stuck out:

Target's dollar section. I found cute little cow and duckie piggy banks there. You could always pick up one of those and fill it with different coings and a couple of bills.

Board games are great, especially ones that challenge the mind skills.

Dress up pieces are always fun. I know Barbie is controversial, but you can even pick up dress-up pieces at the Halloween shops for cheap.
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