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<p>So I wasn't sure where to post this, but here goes.</p>
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<p>Ds is currently being invited to many more birthday parties now that he is in kindergarten. He's been to two already this year and is invited to two more in the coming week. His social skills were our biggest concern with him entering school and he's doing so well and finding good friends. I am very happy about this as he has always been very reserved and slow to warm to people. So I really want to give him every opportunity to be with his peers.</p>
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<p>However we have absolutely no budget room for gifts for friends birthdays. Fortunately the first birthday party he went to the invitation stated none were to be brought. The second birthday was more awkward because the "party place" had it all set up where the birthday child sits in a chair and each child comes and sits with them while they open their gift. I was so worried ds was going to be put in a awkward place as we had no gift. I believe the mother saw our situation and thankfully helped avoid anything embarassing/uncomfortable.</p>
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<p>So now we have another birthday party coming up at this same place......ugh. Although ds had a fantastic time with his friends last time so I know he really wants to go. We also have another party at a pizza place the following week. I'm just unsure of how to proceed. We are trying to foster the importance of friends/family at birthdays and minimize all the gift giving. But I don't want him to feel bad he doesn't have a gift for friends. I also worry how his friends would take this.....although I think they probably wouldn't really notice at this age.</p>
 

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<p>Perhaps he could make something to give? Or what about buying a book or some small token at a garage sale or the thrift store? There's also the dollar store which has little toys kids that age would like.</p>
 

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<p>Since the party includes food, and is an entertaining place too, wouldn't it be possible to reserve a small amount from your food/entertainment budget for this? Even if it's only $3 or $4, like the pp said that could be spent at a thrift store, used book store, dollar store, or on art/craft supplies to make something (not sure what but maybe a wooden boat or something?).</p>
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<p>I agree with some others, the dollar store has some good toys and you can have him make a card. </p>
 

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<p>I like the idea of making something or going to the Dollar Tree to pick out a few items.  They actually have some decent things (puzzles, coloring books, toy cars, art supplies, etc.)  As a PP mentioned, subbing some of your food budget for $5 or less in gifts seems like a good way to justify the cost, since I assume at least your DS will be eating a meal and cake there (and maybe you, too). </p>
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<p>Another idea is buying several gifts when it does work into your budget (do you get a tax refund or bonuses or similar?), and then keeping a stash of them for upcoming invites.  Your DS will continue to get invited to parties, so it might help to be prepared.</p>
 

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<p> Thank you for the advice here. To answer a few questions. We don't have an entertainment/gift/etc budget at all. We are finally working our way out from paycheck to paycheck after recently paying off ds2's birth from last year. I'm currently SAHM and will be headed back to school this summer. So money is tight and has been and will be for awhile. Yes we are getting a tax return but that will not come in time for these parties. As for future parties I see this still being an issue because we won't have additional income for quite some time. Dh is a teacher and so no bonuses, raises, etc.</p>
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<p>I think we might be able to manage a dollar store item. I was quite surprised at the types of toys given at the previous party. We are no where in the range for those types of toys. But then the school he attends is in a fairly wealthy part of town, ds only goes there because dh teaches there. I guess I really shouldn't worry about what the child would expect and just let ds feel the enjoyment of giving a gift.</p>
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<p>I have no problems buying thrift items as gifts for family. Most of our Christmas this year for both boys and dh were thrift items. But I don't know how other people might take a re-gifted item.</p>
 

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<p>Some other non-expensive gift items (I also have a 5year old)</p>
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<p>-coloring/activity book (dollar store) and crayons</p>
<p>-card game (uno, war, blink)</p>
<p>- a few simple craft kits from the craft store (I know Micheal's and AC Moore have dollar sections too with simple craft kits that are cute)</p>
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<p>- $5 gift card to Cold Stone or similar ice cream type place</p>
 

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<p>Goodwill sells used kids books really cheaply (like $1 or less). If you can squeeze $1 out, I'd recommend that over a dollar tree item. Choose one that's in great condition, take off the Goodwill sticker and no one will ever know. If you can't do that, can you regift one of your books? Personally, I never look at how 'new' the things that my kids get are, and I know that my kids have gotten used (but in really good condition) books. It's environmentally friendly at very least.</p>
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<p>A nice book plus a homemade card is a good gift. Who cares where the book came from?</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #9
<p>I think I might check out the books at Goodwill. I don't generally look at books because ds has such an extensive collection. I would be happy to give one of ours away but most of his books are quite used because they've already been handed down from the school/teachers classrooms/etc.</p>
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<p>If nothing else than I guess we will opt for a dollar store item or something from Michaels. I know I've picked up stocking stuffers at Michaels before.</p>
 

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<p>It doesn't help right now but I keep a shelf in my closet with various gifts on it. When we have a party to go to, and yes, there will be more and more, and children as they get older do notice if there is a "missing" gift, we go pick one out. I stock the shelf with things i find for very cheap, toys that were in the bargin bin after X-Mas for $3.00 for example. I tend to search for the nicer ones because most of the gifts at parties we attend are in the $20.00 range. A nice book or two from goodwill and a homemade card are an excellent option. We always do homemade cards, I don't see the point in buying a card when my children are capable of making one!</p>
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<p>Toddler helping me to help, excuse typos </p>
 

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<p>Do you have any duplicate copies of books, or books your DS hasn't shown interest in in a while, that are in good condition and could be wrapped up and passed along? I just went through all our books and found 3 duplicates that we had received as gifts, so those ones are now up high on the shelf waiting to be donated or given as gifts. </p>
 

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Discussion Starter #12
<p><br><br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>limabean</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1295155/birthday-party-invitations-and-gift-questions-advice#post_16229928"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Do you have any duplicate copies of books, or books your DS hasn't shown interest in in a while, that are in good condition and could be wrapped up and passed along? I just went through all our books and found 3 duplicates that we had received as gifts, so those ones are now up high on the shelf waiting to be donated or given as gifts. </p>
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I'll scavenge his shelves and see about books he might be willing to give. There are plenty he's not reading lately, but we're in that struggle of helping him be willing to let things go. I can't imagine we have duplicates since we've moved so frequently and downsize quite often. Although I may have a Dr Suess book that we have two copies still.....</p>
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<p>Peony- That is a good idea for future reference on stocking up of bargain toys. Yes, the parties we've been too so far also seem to have the $20 range toys, which is an absolute impossibility for us.</p>
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<p>This has really gotten me thinking about ds's future birthday parties. He has yet to have any birthday party for himself, he's pretty reserved and until now I figured it would create to much anxiety for him. But I think I'd like to introduce the idea to him of having his own birthday party without gifts from friends. I would hate to put anyone in the position of trying to find a gift that can't afford it or for a child not to come because they couldn't bring a gift. I remember gifts at parties when I was a child being very simple and dollar store variety. But then I'm realizing that now days (ds is our first child)  birthday parties seem to have become huge events, with renting out facilities and some party favor/goodie bags being equal to what I thought a nice birthday gift would be.<span><img alt="dizzy.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="width:25px;height:25px;"></span></p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>beebalmmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1295155/birthday-party-invitations-and-gift-questions-advice#post_16230611"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br>
But then I'm realizing that now days (ds is our first child)  birthday parties seem to have become huge events, with renting out facilities and some party favor/goodie bags being equal to what I thought a nice birthday gift would be.<span><img alt="dizzy.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="width:25px;height:25px;"></span></div>
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Sadly I think that's true. But it doesn't mean you have to do the same. We've had some fun, cheap parties at home and at playgrounds. And on the topic of gifts, DS went to a party recently where the b-day kid who is a big dog lover asked the other kids to bring a gift that could be donated to the humane society. I thought that was very sweet and a lot of fun.</p>
 

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<p>I recently re-gifted a puzzle to another child for a birthday gift.  It showed virtually no wear and was a picture dd didn't care for much so she was happy to let it go. </p>
 

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<p>If you go the Michael's or AC Moore route, they always, always have those 40% off coupons for your most expensive item, so you could get a $10 item for $6 or a $5 item for $3.</p>
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<p>Thrift stores often have some good items and maybe your ds has received some gifts that he doesn't really want?</p>
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<p>If he wants to do a b-day party you can certainly do it on the cheap and not require gifts. We've done several b-day parties where we specified no gifts or collected items for the animal shelter. I've also read about book exchanges here on MDC and those sound really neat, too.</p>
 

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<p>Wow.  That's a lot of birthday parties for such a small child.  Is it possible to make a rule, "only 1 birthday party a month" or something like that?  I totally understand the "no budget" thing.  We are in the same boat.  If you limited the parties to once a month, then maybe you could afford a Dollar Store gift or something similar.  (I like the idea of keeping extras on hand when there is a good deal and you have the money.)  An inexpensive idea is a homemade card, inside a candy bar with a dollar bill.  Also, Baskin Robbins has gift certificates -- I haven't bought one in a while, but used to be able to buy $2.00 certificates -- that inside of a homemade card would be good.  I think the whole birthday party thing is kind of intimidating, especially at such a young age:  Big birthday parties, lots of parties, parties where gifts are focused upon (the child is in a special seat and each child brings a gift to him/her) - geesh!  You can go along with it if you want (I know you are trying to foster your child's social abilities), but the whole thing makes me want to dig in my heals!  There's nothing wrong with putting some limits on how many parties your child can go to - as long as you explain to your child that this is the way your family does things. If you start going to a zillion parties at this young age, you are setting a precedent for years to come.  Instead of attending all the parties,  you can always invite that friend over to your house or to the park for social interaction and friendship.   I think parties have gotten out of hand.  Just my opinion, of course.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Peony</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1295155/birthday-party-invitations-and-gift-questions-advice#post_16229865"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>It doesn't help right now but I keep a shelf in my closet with various gifts on it. When we have a party to go to, and yes, there will be more and more, and children as they get older do notice if there is a "missing" gift, we go pick one out. I stock the shelf with things i find for very cheap, toys that were in the bargin bin after X-Mas for $3.00 for example. I tend to search for the nicer ones because most of the gifts at parties we attend are in the $20.00 range. A nice book or two from goodwill and a homemade card are an excellent option. We always do homemade cards, I don't see the point in buying a card when my children are capable of making one!</p>
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<p>Toddler helping me to help, excuse typos </p>
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I agree - if I see something that's appropriate for my kids age group on sale, I buy a few for future birthday parties. I've gotten items at 75% or more off retail price.</p>
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<p>I also think the b-day parties are a good way to meet the other families and for the kids to socialize outside of school. I would go and get an inexpensive gift - I believe most people want your presence more than your present and that they wouldn't be offended by a small gift.</p>
 

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<p>How about something like homemade playdough?  You could put it in empty jam jars or some mason jars.  That would be less than a dollar and your son would have fun making it.  I know it's something my kids would like.  I also like the thrifted books idea. Or you could print out pictures from the internet and made a homemade coloring book.  </p>
 
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