53 answers

Gift Ideas for a One Year Old Boy with a Price Range of $20 Max

My son is turning one at the end of the month. We are not having a party for him because no one was going to attend (we tried to have a party, but got too many 'no' rsvp). Any ways, someone asked me what my son wanted, under $20, and I'm at a loss! He is the second child (first is a girl), however, we have so many toys I can't house any more! I am borrowing all of his clothes, so I have clothes coming out of my ears too!! So I'm in desparate need of gift ideas for my own son! My hubby and I got him a picnic table (for later use) and a wagon already. I can't ask for cash (the person is my mother-in-law) or a gift card because she doesn't 'do that'. I welcome any ideas! Thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for the ideas. I compiled a list for my MIL and she recently responded to me, "thanks for the ideas, I think I'll just wait to see something that catches my eye." So we will just wait and see what new thing is brough into our home :)

Featured Answers

I have three boys, and when it's the youngest ones birthday we are in the same place. So we have asked people to do things like memberships to the zoo, which the whole family can use or gift cards to Target for something they need later.

1. Savings bond
2. Home Depot toy tools sold at toys are us - my sons love to use them when daddy is using them.

What about something like swim lessons. The local YMCA or community college usually has them for cheap and you don't usually need a membership for those

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For our daughter's first birthday we had a time capsule. We asked people to bring her things she could put in it, keeping in mind she wouldn't see it again until she was 16. She got magazines, coins, Cabbage Patch Kids (my mother-in-law said she could play with the doll, but the certificate had to be packed away). Maybe that would work for you... without a party, maybe not. Another idea could be a donation in his name. Maybe to the zoo, and Grandma could take him to spend the day there. Good luck.

Do you have a 529 program open for your kids? Michigan has a really great one, and you get a Michigan Tax deduction for the money that you put in (autmatic 4% gain on your investment). It is a much better investment than a savings bond. If your MIL lives in Michigan, she can get the tax deduction by contributing directly. You can learn more at misaves.com.

If she knows where IKEA is they have great toys, many wooden, at reasonable prices. Also we have a "Fridge DJ" by Leap Frog and it's also a hit. Happy Birthday to your little guy.

Hi B.,

I always buy "fridge phonics" by leapfrog for 1 year olds. They like to play with the letters and try to get them in the base to make noise. I know it is early to learn letters, but exposure is good. It's a toy that grows with them too. I like any of the leapfrog toys. My kids loved "fridge phonics" and now that they are 5 and 7, we switched to the "word whammer" version which helps them spell 3 letter words.

I like someone else's idea of taking him for a day long excursion. Alone time with grandma is priceless.


Hi B. - how about a book or two, maybe one she'd like to read to him when she comes over? Maybe a collection of short stories or poems so she can read it more than once...when they're one they really don't need much, do they? What about a collage picture frame with a couple of shots of her and room for shots of all of you? Another B.

at one they don't care if they get gifts, no one in my family has a lot of money so when my dad asked me what my daughter needs for her birthday i said diapers, so he wrapped diapers up and she un wraped them and played on the box climbing on it and off it it was like a toy for her.
most people would probly not buy that for you but you can always ask.

Any kind of truck.... trains, books...Tractors and wagons... Boy stuff... :-) Basicly anything that they can make move

boys like anything that bounce or rolls. andy type of rolling car that encourages motor activity and stimulation. Don't make him play with just girl stuff:)

I found child size gardening tools on Amazon for right around $20. They are great for the sandbox and for helping mama in the garden! They are wood and metal, not cheap plastic.

Books are always a good gift choice, too. Or how about some big baskets to store all those toys in? Or maybe you could ask your MIL to DO something with your son instead of buying him something . . . it would mean so much more!

Books are a wonderful gift. What a wonderful way to spend time together including your older child.

Happy Birthday to you son,

D. V.

Suggest picture books. One years old love to turn the pages, and they can handle board books and fabric or vinyl books. There are great ones meant for toddlers, and what mother-in-law would not be in favor of something "educational". I suggest especially the Eric Carle books, where children put fingers in the holes in the board book pages to interact. "The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar " was a favorite at our house.
Good luck, L.

Iwould ask for books or art supplies like markers, crayons, coloring books, foamies etc. I know it will be a while before your son can enjoy them but they are nice to recieve as a gift since buying them constantly can add up.

What about something like swim lessons. The local YMCA or community college usually has them for cheap and you don't usually need a membership for those

I have three boys, and when it's the youngest ones birthday we are in the same place. So we have asked people to do things like memberships to the zoo, which the whole family can use or gift cards to Target for something they need later.

I love what my aunt fondly call "disappearing gifts" they're anything that you give to someone that eventually just disapears. My suggestions for a 1 year old would be suggest his favorite snacks...puffs...gerber fruit bits...those are fun treats that can get pricey for a mom to buy over and over. Also I love giving bath gifts...a thing of bubble bath and a few bath toys are great. I don't know about you, but I find my bath toys only last 6 months to a year before they're too yucky to play with. My sister in law got my daughter the crayola color tabs this year and she loved them! They change the color of the bath...we've learned more about colors at bath time than I ever could have imagined. A few more ideas of "disappearing gifts" are bubbles, chalk, other outside toys, and any arts and crafts supplies.

Hope that helps...I know all the toy clutter can get overwhelming so I try to steer clear of that at birthdays as well!

does he have a piggy bank? For $20 I'm sure she could go to hallmark and find a really cute piggy bank, never hurts to start saving!

Hi B.!
Books or a CD would be a great gift! I remember when I started reading to my little boy - he was younger! He loves to read to this day ... he's now 18 years old...

www.suzanne24.com/joy Share the Joy!

What about books or DVDs? How about some boyish sippy cups or table wear? Or how about a photo frame or scrapbook that you could fill with photos?

What about asking her to put money in a saving account or college fund for him.

I would suggest a savings bond. It's not like cash, more like an investment for him that you can save for when he goes to college, gets married, buys a house, etc... My mother just gave me a $50 one from 1982 and the value tripled after 26 years. If that's a no, tell her to get him something special that she likes and tell her that he isn't in need of anything at the moment. Good luck!

Would a big truck for outside be okay?
What about books-it's never too early to start a love of reading

Good luck

i know that many retailers have online suggestion items on their webpages. that may give you a good place to start looking. also you might consider asking for some books to read to him. seems how you already have a little girl maybe some boy books.

You could have her purchase some kids CD's for him. Fischer price sells some good ones. I think they range from $7.99 - $12.99. Toys "R" Us has a good selection. Also, she could get him some books, even though you probably have a lot from your daughter, it would be nice for him to have his own. I hope he has a great birthday.

A pop up tent - one of the pop up tunnels to crawl through (I've heard IKEA has them for a reasonable price - Target currently has some on clearance David Kirk Miss Spider line available in butterfly, caterpillar, giraffe for only $10). The best thing with these is they collapse where you can store them behind a couch or under a couch/bed and they don't take up much room at all.

If all else fails, just tell her that you're sure he'd be happy with whatever she likes. Or she can buy a toy or something to keep at her house, if he goes over there to play.

I'm sorry about the negative responses to his party. That must be so disappointing. Happy Birthday to your precious boy!!!

My son just turned a year old. He received Leap Frog Fridge Phonics. It is awesome and he loves it. It is under $20 and a great learning toy. It sings a little song with pronouncing the letter and how it sounds.

Good luck.....

Tell granny all he wants is 4 coupons for ME and GRANNY days where he is allowed to go to Granny's house and spend ALL day with his best granny. She will get him early and plan a special day for just them that will last 8 hours (at least).

Ask her to make sure to take pictures or write a letter about what they did so that he can have them in his memory book. If Granny is out of town; change the option to a weekend stay with Granny. He will feel special and have some momentoes of spending time with his grandmother. You will have some time with your oldest (to make her feel special too).

OR you could fenagle BOTH of them with granny at the same time.

Books are always an option, or a contribution to a 529.

Hi there - Happy birthday to your son! I would ask for a book...and have your mother--in-law write in it - from her. Ask her to choose her favorite book of all time - and give it to him when he goes to college. Keep it on a shelf for your son for when he's older. He'll have a book from his Grandmother that he'll always know was from her with her words inscribed inside. It'll be an insight into his grandmother's life for years to come.

Books! We just recently discovered Barefoot books and have so much fun reading them each night. Our favorite is Animal Boogie and it comes with a sing a long CD. Let me know if you would like more information.

Happy birthday to your son! Maybe you could ask her for something like a membership to the parks, zoo, etc. I'm sure those are over $20, but if there's something you've wanted to do with your family it might help cover the cost. i.e. swimming, gymboree classes etc. Maybe a baby sign language class. Or maybe a plant or tree that blooms around his birthday.

Better yet, ask for a gift you can give to someone less fortunate. We often went through toys that weren't being used often and gave them to Good Will etc.

You could ask for something you would use anyway such as baby shampoo, diapers, wipes, diaper cream etc.

I used to think of one thing I just couldn't afford and that's what I'd ask for, i.e. baby shoes that were a little more than I'd pay for, outfit for church et.

Best wishes, S.

Well, B., for just $25 you could purchase a $50 savings bond to save for your son't future.

I agree with "Ann M"....you can't go wrong with a beautiful picture book with a personalized inscription..She could go a step further and record herself reading the book to him. My MIL did this, and my kids consider it a treasure.

Happy 1st Birthday to your son. I can't believe someone would want to miss such a special occasion!

God Bless,
J. R

B., Ask for donations for a local charity, in your son's name. Hospice, lego's for a local kindergarten, Salvation Army has a day coming up where they need school supplies for children in need, food for a local soup kitchen or pantry, pet food or old rugs and blankets for a pet shelter. If the families really want to bring a small gift for your son, have them bring bubbles, soft frisbee or balls, sidewalk chalk, small activities for the party! Good luck hon. K.

my mother-in-law gave savings bonds at the younger age. It's money, but it's an investment for the future you can save for your son.

If you can't think of any gifts, I would throw out the option of a savings bond. It's not a gift card and will increase in value the longer you wait to cash it in.

I have a 1 yr old also, and his favorite toy, above all others is the playskool "Busy Ball Popper". It has won Nappa best toy, Child magazine and American baby. Kids love it of all ages, my 3 yr old even likes it. It is the best. He tries to catch the balls and hold them still and put them back, great for motor skills.

You have great ideas for other non toy items.

You already have alot of great responses..
I asked this same question last month and someone told me those leap frog fridge phonics..Im so glad I got those!!
My daughter just turned 1 also,they are a lifesaver when Im in the kitchen, and finally my magnets arent moved by her :-)
I got them at target one was 14.00 and one was 19.99 I highly recommend these,have fun!

1. Savings bond
2. Home Depot toy tools sold at toys are us - my sons love to use them when daddy is using them.

Instead of a material gift, how about she takes him out for the day? Maybe to the playground, out to lunch, to the zoo? They also have books and toys at dollar stores. But, I think the zoo would be a great idea!

I've found that 1 year olds LOVE the Fisher Price popcorn popper or their counter part push toy that sounds like a music box. They run about $8-$10. LeapFrog's magnetic animal farm is also a good choice around $15-$18. Like all of the other posters have said, you can't go wrong with books. The picture books from Priddy Books are THE BEST. It's a great way to get his vocabulary skills going. They are sold just about everywhere http://www.priddybooks.com/Default.aspx?LangType=1033 My son's favorite Priddy Book is the slide and find trucks. Even at near 4 he loves reading that book. Good luck!

He is too young to potty train but you could ask for a potty chair for when he is ready to start training. Or maybe a small bike or riding toy for outdoors. She might agree to a savings bond or you could ask her to open him up a savings account.

Hi B.. I would ask for bath toys. being its summer you can use them in a pool or lake.

From D.- mother of 4

The Leap Frog thing is a great toy, both of my kids love playing with it. But just as an alternative what about asking her for a bath basket? Like a towel with favorite character, maybe the special bubble bath with the same character on the bottle, just something fun that you might not normally buy like that.

My son just turned one at the end of May and I had the same problem! He's our second boy...we don't need any more toys! Anyway, a family member got him a milk jug bowling set from fisher price. The bowling ball is cow patterned and "moo's" when you roll it. He loves it! Laughs every time. They said it was from Toy's R Us.

I have asked for everyone that I know to cut what they would normally spend in half and get all three of my children savings bonds. Its working great and I know that the kids will appreciate it when they get a car or start collage.

So... Is a savings bond out of the question as well? Since it doesn't sound like he actually needs anything, why not start a savings acct. for him and put something away for him for his future?

Gift cards are always nice then he can get what he wants with it,

My mother-in-law is super practical when it comes to birthday gifts, so these may sound strange but she has done them before. What about shoes, sheets for twin size bed (we moved both our girls at 18 months so this worked), dishes - toddler spoons, forks, bowls, plates, sippy cups. You may already have some of those, but even a character set (like Thomas the Train) that is his special set for when he joins you at the dinner table might be nice. My mother-in-law REFUSES to do the cash, gift card or toy thing, so I know exactly where you are coming from. It's taken 4 years of thinking outside the box to figure it out. She's even done blankets before...

Hi B.! I understand -- with my second baby (and both are girls!) we have just TOO many things!! I am a rep for Barefoot Books -- an independent children's book publisher. There are some great board books (good for little hands to hold and not tear the pages) that you can also pair with some good puzzles for babies. Check out I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur with a matching puzzle. Or see all the Bear books, and there are matching puzzles as well. So many options! You can easily spend less than $20. Best of all -- these books are original (you won't find them at Target or Borders) and they don't take up much room!! I realize that with most of the toys they are big and plastic -- so personally I always like "smaller" toys that don't make noise!! :) Good luck! My website is: www.mybarefootbooks.com/LoriHachenski


What about a U.S. Savings Bond? She can get one at most local banks and they increase in value over many years. I received bonds from my Aunt and Uncle every year and by cashing them out I was able to buy my first laptop computer for college. Even better, some of the bonds were worth more than the stated value because the bond continued to accrue interest the longer I kept it without cashing it in.

Also, there is a choice in bonds. You can pay the full value now or you can purchase a bond that is half the value and it will accrue over a longer period of time.

This is a great gift that does not add to the clutter of more toys and he will probably appreciate it when he is ready for a life of his own; be it college or not.

Good luck!

My son is 16 months and plays daily with his vacuum. We got a 'dyson' for Christmas, which is pretty pricy, but I saw that they have a 'Dirt Devil' at toys r us for under $20. I'm thinking about getting it so that we have 2 because there is a constant fight over it between the 16 month old and 3.5 year old.

I just got my neighbor a lawn mower for her one year old. It might be a few months before he can use it - it says 18 months. Both of my kids love to push their lawn mowers behind my husband (within a safe distance) when he is mowing. They are now 4 1/2 and alomost 6 - the lawn mowers are too little to them, and they still don't want to give them up - because they need to "mow with daddy."

Hi B.,
I agree with Angela, a vacumme is a great idea! My son loves the 3 he has and has to share with his younger sister. If he likes cars, then maybe one of the Tonka Tough Rigg's thats chunkier and made for smaller children. Or if it was me, I would tell my mother-in-law whatever she picks out will sure to be a hit and thank you.
Good Luck,
J. in Macomb

Books or Movies (possibly some of a favorite tv character if he has one)?

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