Birthday Party Gift Giving Etiquette

Updated on April 06, 2008
J.B. asks from Newbury Park, CA
12 answers

My son has started to be invited to birthday parties-- and I was wondering how much do you spend on gifts and what do you buy? Were on a tight budget and I dont know if 20 dollars per gift is enough. Can I buy a bunch of the same toys and give them to each child for all the parties???

Second question--
Party Favors- how much to spend and what to buy??

Thank you!!!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,

If I were you, I'd spend less on giving gifts. At birthdays, kids usually get a lot, so plan on spending $10-15. I'd go to Ross for toys, because they're a lot cheaper than even Target or Wal-Mart. Always be on the look out for the marked down/clearance items too.

99 cent stores and Dollar Tree has a lot of stuff you can get for party favors. Oriental Trading Co. is a really good option too. They have all kinds of stuff for party favors and for pretty cheap too. (

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

$20 is about what we spend. I usually either ask the parents what he/she needs or what he REALLY wants that is reasonably priced. If unsure, I avoid anyhting that could be controversial. (I.e. guns/ war, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, religious.) I LOVE giving age appropriate games and books. So one of my first stops is the game isle. If the kid is turning 5 I look for games that are "5 and up". A lot of the beginner games are $5-$18. If it is a $5-$10 game, I will also get a book that seems intresting for the age. (I use the invetation as aa clue to what the kid likes. If it is a dinosaur theme, I look for a dino book.) Don't waiste part of your $20 ($25 after wrapping and tax) on a $5 card! NO ONE cares THAT much about the card! They are not oing to frame it and save it for ever, so buy a $0.99 one, or better yet- have your son make the card. (I have even printed an address lable that said "to: (so-and-so) from: (our family)" The kids NEVER CARED! Dollar Tree and 99 cent stores both sell wrapping paper. I would rather spend $1 on paper everytime than store a $3.99 roll that may or may not be reat for the next party. For my own kid- I buy the roll- because I am wrapping 3-5 gifts in the same paper.

Your question about giving everyone the same gift- If it is a basic toy that all kids would like- SURE! When I find something at a great price, I buy a few and save them for whom ever I think of. I have given nieces and nephews $50+ dollar gifts that I got for $12-$25. DH and I look like we spend TONS of money on these kids, but really, we just shop well!

Favor bags- I HATE putting tons candy in the bags! Most parents don't really want their kids to have much candy, so it just creates problems for them when they get home. For DS's last b-day, each kid got a foam airplane (about $0.65 a piece), a bubble ring (8 for $1), a supper ball (6 for $1), stickers, a roll of smarties, and a funsize bag of M&Ms. They don't have to be FILLED, just have a little bit of something to say "thanks for sharing my special day."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Personalized gifts are always neat, and can be cheap. Stickers/scrapping paper/cutouts/paint pens go a long way on buckets. . .I love to get the cute silver paint buckets from Home Depot (they're like $2), and do inexpensive themed gifts: I've filled them with cheapy gardening supplies, movie-themed stuff (a cheap DVD plus candy, popcorn, etc), beauty buckets (inexpensive hair rollers, lip gloss, slippers). Kids love them, and they usually cost about $10 a piece to do. Don't forget the kid's name somewhere outstide on the bucket, and a cute bow on the handle. If the kid has a hobby, even better! Use that as the theme.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hi J.. I'm a full time working mom of 2 (g-6 and b-3) and 8 months pregnant with another boy. My family is on a budget as well and with my daughter now in first grade and my son in preschool, we are overwhelmed with the birthday parties. Right now we have a budget of $10-$12 per gift for classmates/daycare mates. Your gift won't be the only one at the party so there's no need to go overboard.

However, I'm about ready to switch over to my mom's old method. When I was growing up, my mom had a "gift box". It was full of little things like, notepads, pens, hair thingys, books, diaries, coloring books, playing cards, matchbox cars etc... Things that she would collect from Pic N Save or other stores on her weekly shopping trips. Some girl things and some boy things. When a party would roll around we'd pull down the box and put together a little gift basket of fun things for the birthday girl/boy. At this time in my life I feel the importance of reading so I like to give books as gifts. Most kids open them, toss them aside and move on to the next toy or game but I think the parents appreciate the idea of a book over some toy that will be discarded within days or weeks.

Long story short I think that it would be a good idea to get a "gift box" started with lots of different things all in the same price range...then you can put something together without feeling like you are splurging for one party and not on another.




answers from Las Vegas on


My son is only 3, but we are always going to bday parties. We are on a tight budget, but I still want to bring a nice gift. I usually end up spending about $10, but I usually buy stuff that was on clearance and most of the time it was normally a lot more. When I find toys on sale I buy a few. I found 2 packs of floam that were normally $4.99 for $1.25 at vons the other day. I've never seen it that cheep. I picked up a few because I new they would come in handy to add to bday gifts.




answers from Los Angeles on

oh i only spend about $20 per kid that is a reasonable amount since they will be getting other gifts. as for the party favors goto the dollar tree or 99 cent store. favors just get broken 99% of the time anyways lol



answers from Honolulu on

I always try to get my children to create some part of the gift, if not all, themselves whether it be the card, or gift wrap, coupon for a playdate with your son at a later time, etc. This will help your own child (and hopefully) the recipient to remember that it really is the thought that counts, and that not all gifts need to be bought from the store! I found that nowdays, a Jamba Juice or Border's Gift Card, ($5-10) for younger kids and maybe $15-$20 for a preteen/teen, depending on the recipient's age and how close we are to them, is more than sufficient. Takes some of the guess work out of the equation for you, and it teaches them purchasing power. Usually, my son just gets excited to have the card itself and never really cares what the amount is.
(mother of 3-ages 13,7,6)



answers from Los Angeles on

I teach Kindermusik so I'm constantly going to birthday parties. I never spend more than $20 per child otherwise I would go broke! :o)

I usually stick to age appropriate instruments, books, games. etc. Anything that promotes development and education.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi J.,
For our little girls birthday, we had a party and had no expectation of any gift. We were happy to see our friends and family and have everyone together. If you are able to spend $10 and find something that you feel the child will enjoy, then get it. There is no need in questioning the value of a gift.




answers from Los Angeles on

Since you won't know most of the kids or mom's in your sons class, it is ok not to get personalized gifts. My friend always had a space in her closet for "Gifts". If she was at Target and saw something cute for sale she would buy it. If she saw an add for Barbies or Trucks on sale, she would buy a few. She kept them in her closet. Even now, her kids are teenagers, but she will still buy clothes on clearance and keep them in her closet for birthday parties. She would also buy cards along the way too.

Another money saving tip is to keep the bags at your son's parties. I have a tub with bags and tissue paper. I re-use as often as possible. That will safe you a lot when gift giving happens and you aren't caught off guard when you don't have the funds. You can get cute plain gift bags at Target for really cheap and you and your son can decorate them. It is a sweet touch.

Lastly, there is no "proper amount" spent on a gift. Give what you can. Most kids won't remember what gift you got them within a month of getting it. Don't stress yourself out trying to give the best gift. And don't feel guilty if someone buys your son a nice gift and you can only afford a $10 doll. There will be a time when you can afford to spend more, but for now just be fair with yourself and your finances.

Good Luck...
PS...if you have talents use them. Making things can be pretty cool.



answers from Honolulu on

A good "cheap" place for party favors and kids craft things and tons of things is: Great prices and LOTS of choices. I've ordered from here many times and it's great, especially if you need to buy in bulk and for party favors.

As for how much to spend on gifts... and i think $20 is perfectly fine and more than enough. It depends if this is a "friend" or close family friend or just a sort of "acquaintance" type of relation.
I've often bought things on sale from or from,.... and also the local Price Busters store. And yes, if I find a great reasonably priced toy/gift... I do buy more than 1, and use them as gifts for other parties. For example, I found a great kids toy from Walmart online, that was on sale for $5.99, but the regular price was $15.99! So, I bought 4 of them for other upcoming birthdays for my daughter's friends. I sort of "stock up" on things/gifts and buy several of them, and keep them in the closet for upcoming parties, when I find a great buy.

I too am a SAHM and on a tight budget.. .and this is what I do. I usually spend $20 max on gifts and shop around for better deals on top dollar toys/gifts that I can get for less money on sales. Hope it helps. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

$10 goes along way at a 99 cent store and they have a wide variety of school supplies for boys and girls with logos such as Disney, Matchbox, Marvel Comics, etc. and it is not the amount that you spend that should matter, the thought should always come first. Most people should live by budgets, it will teach our children responsibility and keeps us humble, and with that in mind, give what you can with joy and embrace it's grace.

On your second question, it really depends on the theme of the party, most parties have one and if not, multiple colored party favors usually do the trick, and select what is appropriate for the age of those attending.

Hope this helps.....HAVE FUN!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches