View Full Version : Birthday Party etiquette question

05-03-2007, 12:04 AM
My DS was invited to a joint birthday party for 3 children in his class at a bounce place. We have done our parties at home for the last 2 years and will likely have his 3rd birthday party at home as well. Our philiosphy -- when he is old enough to ask for a particular type of party, we will start doing something different! :) Since we have them at home we really only invite close friends and family -- not daycare friends.

We are planning on attending but my question relates to the gifts -- how much should I spend on each child? I would normally spend $15-20 for a gift, but that would quickly add up in this case. Would it be ok to spend less in this situation? A book for each child or small toy? We are really trying to watch our expenses right now.

Thanks for your help!

05-03-2007, 07:33 AM
I have the same b-day party philosophy. Ds is turning 5 soon and wants a party out somewhere (like all his friends) but I am trying to sell him on the idea of a small at home party again. :)

For your party, I think it would be fine to spend whatever you are comfortable spending. It does help to stock up during the year on things like puzzles, board games and other things that you can use for b-day presents- spread out the spending.


05-03-2007, 08:10 AM
Spend what you are comfortable spending. Thanks to B&N deals, Michaels, AC Moore, coupons etc. I get to spend less for things. Every penny helps, right?

Jude is turning 4 (in daycare) and REALLY wants a party out with his friends (b/c he has been to their parties). Trying to avoid it, but I think it is going to happen.

05-03-2007, 08:46 AM
I think you can get something nice for $8-$10 and shouldn't expect to spend more than that on each child at a party for 3 kids. That would be just fine.

05-03-2007, 09:13 AM
I have such mixed feelings on these joint bday parties. It's nice that the parents giving the parties can save a few $$ by sharing it (which I completely understand) and those attending aren't having to go to 3 parties in one weekend, but it becomes very costly in terms of the gifts all at once. You might not have chosen to attend a separate party for all 3 of these kiddos, kwim? We have nearly 20 children in our playgroup now (including siblings) and the parties/gift giving is getting extremely expensive. Target has Candyland and Chutes and Ladders for $5.99 each, I believe. I'm hitting the sales (recently got a MagnaDoodle for under $10 at Target) and stocking the gift closet all year long. Whoa, I ended up on a little soapbox there. Anyway, to answer your question, yes, it is absolutely appropriate to spend a little less - especially in this situation.


05-03-2007, 09:18 AM
I agree that it is fine to spend what you feel comfortable spending. I check Target and other stores for sales and am usually able to find something I am happy with for $10 or less. I think a book or small toy would also be fine. One thing you can always go for is art supplies.


05-03-2007, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the great ideas - I think I am going to look into the board game idea.

I have a hard time buying ahead because it always seems like when it comes time to give the gift, the ones that I have on hand are not appropriate.

It is nice to know that I am not the only one that feels this way!

05-03-2007, 12:11 PM
We have the same birthday party philosophy! I have gotten so anti-birthday party through the years - between the over-spending and the over-stimulation, I would really prefer to do as little as possible for birthday parties. I also try to buy gifts in advance, particularly gifts that don't go out of style - Lego, K'nex, outdoor play toys (sidewalk chalk was a huge hit), etc. The thing about gifts, as I learned when we did a joint birthday party for DS1 and his friend last year, is that both I and the other mom wished, in retrospect, that we had stated no gifts on the invites. We had so many kids and SO many gifts that it was just too much! Neither the other mom nor I wanted that many new toys all at once for our boys and neither of us wanted that many things to clutter our homes. It was a great learning for me on the downfalls of birthday parties! Now, I try to plan gifts around what my reaction, as a parent, would be to having that gift in my house. That is why I like outdoor toys (they don't clutter up the house) and things like Legos, since they are just dumped into the big Lego bucket.

I guess what I am trying to say, is to purposely stick with smaller gifts, and gifts that won't just clutter up the receiver's house, simply because they birthday kids will be receiving WAY too many gifts due to the nature of a joint party. For the same reasons that you feel overwhelmed by spending that much on 3 gifts, they will all feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of gifts they will receive!

Have fun!

Tondi G
05-03-2007, 01:50 PM
I love being a Costco memeber in these situations cause you can often get a boxed set of board books (curious george, dr seuss etc.) for around 10 bucks and it feels like MORE! Sometimes they have great sets of sidewalk chalk or color wonder stuff for a good price too! I've also found great books on the sale rack at our Barnes and Noble store, reg 16 bucks on sale for $5!

Better to show up with a $10 gift than to show up empty handed!


05-03-2007, 05:43 PM
Every year in November, we have the "Annual Hardy Party" for which I blow a HUGE leaf pile for the kids to jump in. Then, we grill hot dogs.

As the big finale, we build a campfire in our front yard (we live out of the city limits) and all fo DS' friends (mostly city kids) roast birthday marshmellows at dusk.

It is probably the cheapest, no-fuss party in the school, but it is the one everyone talks about all year.


hardy 11/17/01 blythe & charlotte 3/24/04

05-03-2007, 10:15 PM
Here's what I do. About once a year, I look ahead: How many 1 year, 2 year, 3 year, etc. b-day parties will I have in the next year? And I estimate based on the kids' friends.

Then, I buy...

1st birthday presents: Megablocks or pajamas and a goodnight story
2nd birthday presents: swim towels (from Disney when they have sales )with pool toys
3rd birthday presents: bath toys
4th birthday presents: Word Chase board game (beyondlearning.com)


I get it all whenever I see it discounted and buy buy buy ahead.

05-03-2007, 10:44 PM
I think that it's perfectly okay for you to spend $8-$10 per gift per child. Just spend whatever amount you can afford and are comfortable with. Board games are great. Target and Wal-mart have the 3 in one board games that are relatively cheap. Or a small toy and book would be great too. Just look for sales.

I try to stock up on books and toys when they're on sale so I can use them as B-day gifts. It doesn't always work out because sometimes I don't have anything in the closet for a certain age and then I will have to go buy something else, but usually I end up saving some money if I buy ahead. Maybe you can try that next time you see a great deal.

05-23-2008, 11:37 AM
I have really been stocking up on gifts for kids ahead of time lately. For instance, when Disney.com had the great clearance awhile back, I bought tons of the Princess Dolls that wound up about 4-5 bucks each. I also hit the Target, TJ Maxx clearances and get gifts that can be multi-purpose.
I think in our hugely consumer-driven, stuff-addicted country, cutting down on the expense and excess is important. The guy that created Beanie Babies did so when he was shopping for a child's gift, and thought it should be possible to buy one for $5-$6. I see no problem in even buying a few dollar store items: a coloring book, crayons, play dough, or bubbles, water toys, bucket and shovel. Kids seem to always love those! Keep it simple and cheap IMHO!

05-23-2008, 12:49 PM
Personally, I would spend whatever you would normally spend for each child if they had separate parties.

05-26-2008, 08:33 PM
I think you should feel good about spending $8-10 per birthday child! I have twins, and in all honesty I never think about what people spend when they give us gifts. I think the standard around here (outside Boston) is around $15. My kids are only three, so most of the parties they have gone to have been my friends' children's parties, where I have spent more.

Stocking up, if possible, is a great idea I learned from these boards. I stocked up at B&N.com's 50% off board game sale earlier this year and bought 5 Classic Candy Land games and 5 Classic Chutes and Ladders games - they come in a nice tin. I think I got them for less than $5 each (normally $9.99). Look for things like this.

You can also get a decent book for $8-10 - there is a great collection of Little Golden Book Stories (Animal Tales, Farm Tales, and Sleepytales - might be one more) bound into a nice book and edged with gold that is around $10at Barnes and Noble - this is good for younger children.

For kids into Thomas, most of the trains are $10.99, but sometimes you can get them a little cheaper - even though one train may not seem like much, kids love them and to them it is a great gift!

Melissa and Doug toys can often be found at Marshalls for under $10 - good for younger kids.

My motto is, but as quality of a toy as you can within the budget and you'll never go wrong! Personally I'd rather have one $5 book in the house than $10 worth of junk from China!

Good luck finding something fun!

05-26-2008, 11:27 PM
Personally, I would spend whatever you would normally spend for each child if they had separate parties.

i agree. if you would spend $20 on each kid had their parties been months apart, then why not spend that same $20 each now. i don't see why timing (having to buy the gifts at the same time rather than spreading it through out the year) is a factor (either way you still spend the same total amount).

if you are trying to cut back on spending and only want to spend $10 per child, that is fine. but that decision should be made regardless of the fact that it is a joint party. i still believe that it is the thought that counts so spend as much or as little as you like. a nice and thoughtful gift does not need to be expensive.

07-15-2008, 04:22 PM

I am an Event Planner and mom. My opinion is spend how much you can afford, don't feel obligated to spend more. Get a book or small toy you love for your kids. I always buy a book from a local author, the book is less than $15, and is autographed here in Flagstaff.

This is a link to the book:

Something you have unique to your area is always a nice gesture. Sometimes you find gifts in unexpected places. I buy my books in an X-mas store.