When you have school-age kids, weekly birthday parties for classmates and friends are often the norm. Not only does this get expensive, as in most cases guests bring a gift for the birthday girl or boy, it is easy to run out of creative - and affordable - gift ideas. Sometimes it seems like the easiest present is the newest plastic toy that often has a short shelf life and gets tossed into the toy chest after its initial play.
One way to break out of the birthday present rut is to bundle a few small items into one themed gift. For example, a kids' cookbook, apron and cooking tool (like a whisk, spatula, or measuring spoons) is a great gift for the child who loves to cook with mom or dad. Here are some ideas for gifts that are thoughtful, affordable (check out your local dollar store - many items can be found there), and are guaranteed to have a long shelf life - most of these gifts would be appropriate for girls or boys - just tailor according to the birthday child:
For the artist:
A big bin for art supplies filled with new markers, crayons, paper and a plastic 8 x 10 frame to rotate the artist's featured masterpieces. Take a minute to write on the frame in glitter glue - "Max's Masterpiece."
For the baker:
A cookie sheet, cut-outs, an apron, and a few of your favorite cookie recipes on index cards. Don't forget Rachael's cookbook for kids, Yum-o! The Family Cookbook. To see all Yum-o! kids kitchen tools, go here.
For the reader:
A few favorite paperbacks, and a flashlight or booklight for night time reading
For the gardener:
A kid-sized watering can, gardening tools, a package of seeds and a small pot with directions on how to plant the seeds.
For the chef:
A kids' cookbook, apron and cooking tool (ie a whisk, spatula, oven mitt or measuring spoons).
A notebook, diary or journal with a special pen, flashlight and either a pillow case with their favorite character (like Sponge Bob or Hannah Montana) or small bag or duffel bag to hold their sleepover supplies
Outdoor Fun (winter):
Plastic block to make snow blocks or plastic snowball maker, mittens or gloves, hot chocolate mix and special mug
Outdoor Fun (summer):
Pick a few outdoor toys: Jump rope, squirt gun, colored chalk, wiffel ball and bat, soccer ball, fun rubber ball, frisbee, sunglasses, fun sprinkler
Beach pail with toys (shovel, sand molds) and fun beach towel
For the swimmer:
Kids' swim goggles and fun beach towel OR fins and/or snorkel kit with a fun beach towel
A classic game like Monopoly or Sorry! with a bucket of microwave popcorn
A favorite DVD or a gift card to a movie rental outlet, popcorn
Ice Cream Party:
Ice cream scoop, special ice cream bowl, sprinkles, hot fudge and a gift card to your favorite ice cream place.
An ice-cream maker makes a perfect b-day gift for kids!
These ideas are just to get you started - so have fun, get inspired and break out of the birthday gift rut!