29 answers

Presents for Preschool Birthday Parties

My oldest son, 5, is invited to his first birthday party. He is in his last week of preschool and entering kindergarten next fall. My question is what is an appropriate gift for that age, and what is a good dollar amount to spend. I am so lost when it comes to this stuff. When I was little it was a game or something, but now with technology and people giving their kids everything imaginable I am clueless.

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Bubbles, sidewalk chaulk, and the best one ever a cheap ($1) coloring book (instead of a card) and $5 or a gift card to Target, Wal-Mart, ice cream store. Now if you want to spend more, movie passes are a Mother's best friend in the summer. At 5 a kid can sit through a movie and it's fun and relaxing for Mom.
Those are the best ones I've ever given or done. I hope they help.

I take my child to the dollar store and let her pick out several things for the birthday girl and a gift bag to put them in. We usually end up spending about $12.

Give something simple and cheap and old fashioned like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a kite, balloons, books, coloring books, etc. Don't spend more than $10. Let the kid's parents get the expensive and complicated stuff.

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I would suggest if it isn't a close family friend, then about $5-10 is probably a good price. And although technology is advancing, I think that kids should still have their regular old toys to play with and their regular old board games too!!! My son just had his 4th birthday, and the present that he plays with most is a combo-game thing (it's actually Cars, like lightning McQueen) and it has like 3 card games, bingo, checkers, and dominos and such. But his favorite is Dominos, so maybe some sort of board game or maybe even just a set of dominos or a pack of kids card games. I think it teaches them better to compete with others in more of a one on one setting, and I think it's much better for kids to learn people skills one on one, rather than with the playstation, or x-box, or nintendo, or whatever kids play these days. Anyways, I hope this helps.

Give something simple and cheap and old fashioned like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a kite, balloons, books, coloring books, etc. Don't spend more than $10. Let the kid's parents get the expensive and complicated stuff.

This is the first in a long line of parties. I would stick to a ten dollar limit. One of the favorites gifts to give from my kids were Legos. I would do balls (like soccer) or for girls a polly pocket. I am not sure how much this stuff costs anymore, but don't go hog wild. Also, for girls I would get a little purse and put gum and nail polish in it. That was always a hit and you can get the .99 cent polish cheap.
There are always DVDs at Wal-Mart for $5 as long as they are age approprate.
Good Luck,
C. B

Games are still appropriate (candy land, hi ho cheerio, bingo) you could also do flash cards so they can learn their numbers or letters better, or even just a Walmart gift card so his mom can take him to choose something.

My friends and I always get those preschool/grade books to learn from. They have the activities to play. Then we would get them a package of crayons or washable markers. We find them to be the greatest things to keep them occupied. You can find them at wal-mart in the coloring aisle. I hope this helps and gl.

my neighbor across the street is 5 and he got a gift card to WalMart and he still tells me about it and it has been a couple of months since his birthday. He was so proud of it! he got to go pick something and pay for it himself. lol. I hadn't thought of that for a younger kid but he was really really excited about it.

i would take your boy to the dollar store and let him choose something for his friend. don't worry about impressing. let him have fun. :)

Yeah, I agree with what's been posted. I target $10 as a limit, and try to give activity books, art supplies, books, or a toy if I know what they already like and don't have yet.

When my son was that age, some of the biggest hits were plastic dinosaurs or matchbox cars. All of his friends were really into collecting both.

I guess it depends on how close a friend the other child is. If you are family friends, you probably would want to get something nicer, but if it's just a child from his class who you don't play with otherwise, I think it is fine to spend about 10$. I usually get puzzles or art supplies when I get birthday presents for my daughter's friends...those types of things are universal pleasers, and you can get them without spending a lot of money.

Something our son has gotten into lately is the educational coloring books. You can get the good ones at educational stores. Telling time and rhyming are his favorites right now (4 1/2) but he has also enjoyed the tracing and others. Kumon is one of the good brands he likes, I think. They are usually sorted by age, so you should be able to find an appropriate one. The books look very nice and expensive, but are very reasonable. You could include a box of crayons or pencils, if you wanted, but it wouldn't be necessary. All we have to do with our son is give him the directions, but now he's learning to read them on his own, maybe just from repetition.

Just because technology has advanced, doesn't mean a book isn't appropriate! I am a preschool teacher and my kids LOVE the Mercy Watson series, but there are so many good ones to pick from and it helps tremendously on their way to kindergarten.

Hi L. - I didnt read through all of these so sorry if it has duplicate ideas. For that age I shoot for $10-$15 We make a homemade card to save money - it usually ends up being a picture my son has drawn and a happy birthday message. I usually do not give movies or software unless I know an exact title since they are hard to return.

Usually a mom can tell you what her kids are into so she may have some ideas for you - here are a few ideas that went over well with my son and his friends that were around $5 - $15

1. Any kind of game ball - basketball, soccer, football, playground
2. t-ball stand with bat and ball
3. action figures - bionicles, legos, superheroes
4. set of light sabers
5. water guns/super soakers
6. Mr. Sketch markers by Sanford (last 10x longer than crayola markers) with drawing pad
7. Swim/water toys - slip-n-slide, sprinkler toys, noodles, swim towel
8. Cars/trucks - matchbox, etc.
9. Kite
10. Air rockets/pump rockets
11. Fun T-shirts
12. Thomas tank engine toys (if the kid is interested)
13. Movie coupon(s) $5 each

I think you should give something that is simple. Kids are more happy that they have their friends with them and not about the price of your present.

I usually give something like a tooth fairy pillow, because they are all losing their teeth now. Or a traveling chalkboard placemat. Something that nobody else has or will be giving.....

Hope this helps

Little Journeys Baby World

Hi L. B.

One gift my son (4) got from my parents one year was Stomp Rockets Jr. What a hit!!! Every kid that comes over just loves them!! They are about $12. I've gotten them at Ages and Stages Toy Box in Arvada but you can also get them online. No batteries required (yea!) and always a blast! Hope this helps! Oh, there is also another brand called Air Hogs I think. You might me able to find those at places like Wal-Mart.

I've given some wooden puzzles that are maps of the United States. They usually cost about $10-$15. They're super sturdy and the kids always LOVE them. Not right away, though. This is one of those presents that grows with them and lasts for many years.

I take my child to the dollar store and let her pick out several things for the birthday girl and a gift bag to put them in. We usually end up spending about $12.

Bubbles, sidewalk chaulk, and the best one ever a cheap ($1) coloring book (instead of a card) and $5 or a gift card to Target, Wal-Mart, ice cream store. Now if you want to spend more, movie passes are a Mother's best friend in the summer. At 5 a kid can sit through a movie and it's fun and relaxing for Mom.
Those are the best ones I've ever given or done. I hope they help.

L. B,
First, I have always limited the amount spent to $10. It may sound cheap, but with all the other birthdays, you will quickly end up spending $100 or more every year. You can probably get an idea of what the child likes from things that he plays with at the preschool. It is also a very good idea to give your son the money and let him shop. He will learn how to give and a bit about money!
I prefer to steer away from "technology" and often do opt to give a game. Sometimes the gift is totally off the wall, but my child has picked it out. Keep thinking outside of the box and you will find the "perfect" gift. Good luck!

Books or craft supplies.. and keep it under $10. This age doesn't know the value of "stuff" so don't break the bank. I love it when my kids get books or quite gifts that they have to use their brains when using it....

We were presented with this same delimma only right before payday so there was no extra money for an expensive gift. I did have the materials and made a tutu, then went to the dollar store and bought a tiara with a wand. It was the birthday girl's favorite gift even among some pretty amazing and expensive gifts. We have also done home made playdough in a ziplock with dollar store cookie cutters which has also been well received by both kid and mom. You may want to include the recipe as we were asked by mom and she now doesn't use any other kind. There's many recipes but the best is the one that is cooked. http://www.kinderplanet.com/playdo.htm
I have another friend that has a special shelf where her kids can "shop". To stock the shelf she finds great deals on clearance racks and buys them ahead. Some things in her store are puzzles, games, craft kits, etc. Stuff that works for a lot of ages and either boy or girl.

Hi -

I have a 4 yr old son who has just gone to his first couple birthday parties. It seems that everyone spent around $10. Also if this party is for another little boy, just pick out something that your son would like. I can't help you if the party's for a girl. I have 2 boys also :)

My son is turning 4 in 2 weeks and LOVES books, puzzles, board and card games, etc. I would say the price doesn't matter as long as the kid likes it. A $3 Candyland game might be a bigger hit then the $30 "techno" gift that they are too young to understand yet. Better yet, with the weather warming up, what about something for a sand box, sprinkler or park? Something to get the child OUTSIDE instead of sitting in front of a TV or video game.

Good luck

My kids have been in daycare for a couple of years and get invited to a lot of parties. The kids are all preschool age. I think about $5 is plenty for that age, they probably won't remember much of the party anyway!
I like to buy bath products such as bubble bath, color tablets, fizzy balls, cartoon soaps, washcloths, rubber ducks, etc etc. Bath items get used up and are out of the way for the parents. Just make sure there are no allergies.
Another idea is a snack bag. Walmart sells character lunch bags for a dollar and you can include a box of fruit snacks, some matchbox cars, pens, crayons, notepads, thermal cup, stickers, plastic utensils, etc etc. Again, ask about allergies before giving foods.
Sand toys, bubble sets, butterfly catchers, wiffle ball, kites, and other outdoor toys are great gifts too!
Hope this helps.....

Unless you know the child well (or is a good friend of your child's at school), my limit is $20. I try and stick with educational/craft gifts: books, coloring books and crayons, etc. There are so many option out there. good luck!

Hi L.,
I used to give a set of decent paint brushes, a pad of watercolor paper and a set of watercolor paints. If you have a hobby lobby or Michaels near by they have a great paint brush set that comes in a material case that unrolls and inexpenisve paper and paints. They are nicer than childrens stuff and the kids can make prettier pictures that can be framed. I usually spend about $12 on the whole set up.

If not that then kids 'uno' is fun for that age group. Walmart also has a fun water tube that you gook to the hose and lay out about 8 feet long that sprays water as the kids run through it, only 10 dollars, check with their parents first maybe on that one.

Have fun,

i don't keep up with the "Jones." I think it is appropriate for about a dollar per age. I never go over $10. Maybe $15-20 once they hit high school. (Or they have to buy their own). I have my children pick out the gifts as well (with guidance and knowing I have final say). If it is a theme party (Like Cars) get something with the theme. I prefer to get a book or card game..especially at 5 when they are new to games and very excited for it (and they are $5). Also try Tuesday Mornings. They have a great selection for 50% original price. This time of year, a bag of swim toys are fun. Oh, and yes, sometimes I feel like I have the cheapest gift there...but alas, often my friends appriciate our gifts because they aren't these huge things taking up a lot of space and making a lot of noise. There really isn't much that beats a great picture book for this age. They will read it over and over. the other toys they out grown, break, or get bored of.

Hello there, my daughter is in preschool also and has been to a couple of birthday parties herself. You dont have to go over board with a gift by no M.. What are the boys into? What is your little boy into and what would you buy for him? Just take that and buy something small. Or you can give a gift card or money for about $10 or so. Really with the kids it is all about the play time they have no idea who bought them what. Good luck. Dont make this hard on yourself.

I would set $10 as a maximum unless the friend is REALLY close. But discount stores like Marshalls, Ross, Tuesday Morning have some great options. And you're in for years of this -- so when a local toy store was going out of business, I stocked up on boy's toys at 50% off. I avoid technology completely; my son's favorite toys have been a Batman action figure, balloon launchers, 'Toob of Pirates' figures, knight figures or Bucket of Dinosaurs (those are about $5-8).

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