I remember the first 1-year-old and 2-year-old birthday parties I attended — they were B.E. (Before Emme), and I had no clue what kind of gift I should bring for a baby-child. For one of the parties, I ‘phoned a friend,’ aka I called a friend of mine who was already a mom — one of the few ‘mom friends’ I had at the time — and said, ‘What kind of gift should I get for a 1-year-old?” She recommended this toy, which did not cost upwards of $150.00 at the time (seriously, WTF is up with that?). But for other toddler birthday gifts, I wandered aimlessly around Toys “R” Us, lost and confused in a sea of Bratz dolls, Lego sets, and age requirements that somehow always seemed too old or too young.
These days, the process of toddler birthday gift buying must be simplified for the sake of saving things… things like time and sanity. And, as the mom of a young child who has thrown a birthday or two for her kid (two, to be exact), I have some additional insight into the toddler birthday gift giving dilemma.
So if you’re stuck, start here.
Set a budget.
For young kids, I do my best to stay under $25. There are more than enough gift options for toddlers in this price range — from clothing to toys to books to art supplies. Set a budget and stick to it.
Have a ‘signature’ gift.
Just like the signature cocktail you had at your wedding — only legal to give to a child. A signature gift basically solves every problem ever when it comes to giving toddler birthday gifts. You choose a gift and that’s what you give at every birthday party you attend. My sister does this, and to make it personal, she gives a name train, which is completely adorable and universally loved because every child is obsessed with trains at some point.
Ask the parents what they would like the child to have.
This is my m.o. Why? Because most young kids do not actually need anything, and, especially if they are among the only grandchildren in the family, they probably have plenty of toys. Trust me on this one (I know). If you ask the parents, they can tell you exactly what the child can use or what they would like the child to have. Problem solved.
Shop boutique or local toy stores.
Toys “R” Us is overwhelming. There are too many options, especially for the novice toddler gift-giver. Find a local or boutique toy store, and breath a sigh of relief. There will be less options, the toys will typically be higher quality, and the clerks will be able to help you because they will actually have knowledge of the products they sell.
When in doubt: Pajamas. Seriously.
Most party guests will likely gift a toy, so stand out from the crowd a bit with pajamas. Cute pajamas for kiddos are available at every price point. And at this age, sizing shouldn’t be too difficult since sizes correspond to age. To be safe, size up — buy 18-month pajamas for a 1-year-old; buy 2Ts for a 2-year-old. If they can’t wear them to bed immediately post-party, that’s OK. They’ll grow into them, but include the gift receipt just in case.
How do you handle birthday gifts for young children? Do you have signature gift? Are you good about sticking within a certain budget?