Stocking the birthday gift closet

| December 24, 2010 | Comments (5)

birthday presentYes, most of America is madly stuffing stockings and wrapping Christmas presents, but before the after-Christmas sales launch, you might want to consider the other gifts you’ll need to buy this year: birthday presents for all your kids’ friends.

With both girls enrolled in school (1st grade and Montessori preschool), the birthday party invitations are rolling in like never before. I’m fortunate that Z and A are well-liked children with a lot of friends in their classes, in the neighborhood–and, in Z’s case–from her days at Montessori school. It all adds up to a lot of invites, a fair amount of car pool negotiations and a lot of birthday presents.

Although I’m sure purchasing a well-considered, beautifully wrapped gift from Oak Park’s own Geppetto’s (voted best toy store in Chicago) might help me win mother of the year, I don’t have the time, money or inclination to do so every week. And yes, there is a birthday party nearly every weekend. Sometimes two.

So I’ve been stocking and restocking the gift closet, using the 33, 40 and 50% off coupons Borders sends to its Rewards members to buy Klutz books, Alex craft kits and Pop Bottle Science kits from the well-stocked toy selection in the children’s department on State Street, a block from my office.

Other gift closet stocking strategies include checking Kids Woot! for attractive deals and buying 3 or more of a particularly appealing toy. In the past, I’ve purchased gardening kits, car games and Disney MP3 players from Woot–all of which seemed like much more expensive gifts than they really were.

And on the last day of my free Amazon Prime trial, I choose a couple of art sets that were marked down for Christmas and hit the buy button. One was specifically selected for a little girl who is turning 7 in January, but if one 7 year old girl’s likely to like it, why not buy it for a few 7 year old girls?

For the younger set, I keep my eyes out for deals on Play-Doh and Playmobil sets at Target and scoop up a couple whenever the price dips into the $5-8 range.

My goal in keeping a gift closet is to give gifts in the $12-20 range without spending more than $10 a pop. I further save by forgoing cards and wrapping gifts in recycled gift bags or brown craft paper that the kids can decorate and personalize. While I’m sure I could save a lot more by declining more invitations, I see how much my children enjoy their friends’ parties and how much it means to those children to have them there. And as long as I can keep the cost of the gifts down, I’m getting a decent deal on 2 hours of entertainment and a snack.

Alma blogs about life as the working mother of two little girls at Marketing Mommy. Her twitter handle is @marketingmommy.

Flickr photo by mahalie. Used under Creative Commons license.

Category: Birthdays, New Posts

About Alma K: Alma started her personal blog,, in 2006--right around the time her firstborn began speaking in sentences. She now has two girls, 5 and 3, and lives in a 100 year old house in Oak Park. Husband Josh works from home part-time, which makes the juggle of working full time as a creative at a large downtown ad shop that much easier. The daughter of a Foreign Service officer, Alma spent her childhood moving from place to place. She moved to Chicago for college at age 18 and never left. If it wasn't for the winters, she'd never dream of leaving. Follow Alma on Twitter @marketingmommy. View author profile.

Comments (5)

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  1. Great idea, unless of course you forget where you’ve stored theses gifts. Not that I speak from experience or anything.

  2. I have similar drawers filled with last-minute gift ideas. We try to figure out what we’ll need during the year and pick up items while they are on sale now. It makes the rest of the year much easier, doesn’t it?

  3. Lisa says:

    Wow that’s a lot of invites. We get very few and our budget is thankful but if we got many I would absolutely take this approach. I don’t think our shceudle could handle that many though!

  4. Good Girl! I also add presents from my OWN kids’ parties that they may not instantly love. If I notice that it sits unopened on the couch for a while, I slip it into my present drawer (wish I had a whole closet!) and wait to see if they miss it. It is usually forgotten about and can become a present for someone else to enjoy. Regifting: it’s GREEN!

  5. Lisa says:

    This post inspired me to start mine, but I’ve been waiting… Until the Borders sales. Now I have a fully stocked container just waiting for the birthday party frenzy. Now we just need some invites…

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