When your kids are small, teachers often insist that the entire class be invited to a birthday party so no one feels left out. I have 3 kids. Class size was 25. That’s 75 parties a year folks.
We handled it by letting the kids pick one party a month to attend. Then you have to get the kid to the party and actually buy a present to bring. This can add up to 2 more errands: one for the gift, and one for the wrapping. Some mothers are organized and keep a present shelf or drawer with emergency gifts. This is great idea if you’re organized that way and think to buy an extra present or two when you’re at the toy store. It’s also a good place to put regifting items such as duplicates, wrong sizes, etc. But even if you’re not so organized, there are a couple of tricks.
First, keep a stash of birthday-themed gift bags in your car. I kept them in a big plastic envelope that had once held a bedspread and threw in a box of blank cards, a pen, and a couple of rolls or curling ribbon and a small pair of scissors. Do this once, and you are good to go for years. The bags you plan to reuse go into the car after birthday parties at your house. Curling ribbon lasts forever. You have saved the environment and saved your time in one go.
Second, you can get a kid’s birthday present at almost any business. Some examples:
1. Movie night: popcorn bucket, DVD or game, big box of candy or another snack. The popcorn bucket is the wrapping. Gift certificate to a movie theater works here too.
2. Drugstore: Sand pail, beach towel, swimsuit, sunblock, sunglasses, sand toys, cookie cutters beach chair. Put them in the sand pail. This gift works into the teens, believe it or not. Just don’t do the swimsuit part. You can replace the sand pail with a beach tote instead.
3. Office store: Cool crayons, colored markers, ColorWonder books, stickers, etc. Computer games. Puzzle books.
4. Gas station: Toy trucks and tractors.
5. Grocery store: Cake mix or cookie mix, cookie cutters, pretty cupcake cups, sprinkles, whisk.
These may seem lame, but they are more fun to open than a gift card, and they can be as simple(cheap) or elaborate($$$) as you like. My kids have both given and received all of these gifts and they loved them! Just think about what businesses lie along the route to the party. Make a quick stop, and you have a gift.