Budgeting for Kid Birthday Gifts

Kids birthday gifts

Photo credit: JD Hancock via Foter.com / CC BY

I was recently in a big box store with a nine-year-old trying to find a gift. We were having a difficult time. On the plus side, the boy is big-hearted and wants to get his friend a super-duper-cool gift. But I’m not really expecting to spend $50+ on a birthday present for a friend of his.

I told him my price range, and he promptly reminded me of how much another friend spent on a birthday present for him: “$70.” I assured him that it was probably on super-sale. I sure hope so. I cannot believe that his buddy’s parents spent that much, although the scooter was much appreciated. (And I did try hard not to take it as a sign that they didn’t want my son borrowing their son’s scooter any longer…).

Then, this week, I saw a headline: “Kids Party Gifts: How Much Do We Really Need to Spend?” I was thrilled to see I am not the only one experiencing angst over this.

Buying Kid Gifts

The article’s author said she tries to stick to a limit of $20 for each kid, which reaffirmed my own budget cap. But, then she pointed out related costs.

Apparently she hires a sitter to entertain her kids while she shops to avoid having to buy them anything. Then, there’s the wrapping and the card and she figures she’s “probably inching toward $40 per birthday gift.”

She doesn’t even calculate the value of her time in this equation!

The article, though, ends with a plea to include gift receipts. She cites the example of a Mom who traded in all of her daughter’s gifts and kept the cash. The author says it seems “kind of wrong.”

I’m not going to waffle here: The idea of me buying a gift only to have the parent return it and keep the cash gets under my skin. I’m OK with the kid making that choice and purchasing something they’d rather have, but this Mom’s recouping the cash rankles.

What do you think? What’s a good price range for a birthday present for a kid? And where do you stand on the idea of parents trading in their kids’ gifts for cash? I’d love to hear your point of view.

 

Life Saving Birthday Generosity

 

Everyone likes to spend his or her birthday in a special way — even if that is (inexplicably to me) ignoring it entirely.

Obadiah Jenkins of Homer, Alaska decided to celebrate his 33rd birthday this year by attending the Six-Mile Creek Whitewater and Bluegrass Festival in Hope. He hadn’t brought a kayak or even a paddle; he just planned to watch the events.

His friends, though, thought he needed to get out on the water and rounded up the gear he’d need.

It’s fortunate for Daniel Hartung that they did. Jenkins ended up helping to rescuing the more inexperienced kayaker after he flipped into the creek’s frigid waters.

Drop over Waterfall

Hartung, 64, was taking a practice run in Class IV rapids (the most extreme rating for rivers) before the kayakers were in place to help anyone in distress were on the course. He floated downriver and was swept toward a canyon wall and over a drop named Waterfall.

Jenkins, noticing Hartung was pinned under a tree, dropped a rope down to him. But Hartung was unable to get free. “The more I struggled, the more my head went lower. At first, I could keep my head up and breathe, but then it became difficult to catch a breath,” Hartung told the Alaska Dispatch News later.

Jenkins jumped into the water to rescue Hartung after the older man had been stuck in the current for more than five minutes. Even, at one point, with his face forced into the water for 45 seconds.

In jumping in Jenkins knew he was violating “the first principle of rescuing: Don’t endanger yourself to save someone else.” But he moved on autopilot.

“It was my birthday and I just wanted that guy to have another birthday,” he said. “My brain went into automatic mode, and I knew that if I didn’t act immediately, we would be recovering a body.”

Birthday Injuries

Hartung was unconscious when pulled to shore and needed CPR. Jenkins said of the man he rescued: “He was a fighter…To hang on that long in that cold water was pretty impressive. After two rounds of doing chest compressions to him on the riverbank, his wife came down and talked to him. You could tell that hearing her voice helped bring him around. His pulse came back and he began breathing on his own.”

Hartung was taken to hospital and released. Jenkins, too, suffered a sore body from diving into the current, but was still happy the situation ended well.

The New York Post has a video of the rescue you can see too.

Weighing Kid’s Birthday Priorities

Any reader who knows me personally likely knows how much I HATE morning talk radio. So much talking. So early in the morning. Blah blah blah. Please be quiet!

Still, I did listen to Allan & Ashley of Warm 106.9 asking listeners if it was OK to miss their kids’ graduation and birthdays. Or at least that’s what the blurb said they were talking about. See:

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But I endured five minutes of their blathering and didn’t hear a peep about missing a kid’s birthday. GRRR.

Yet reading about my annoyances is not the reason you read this blog (or at least not the main reason). So, let’s get back on topic. Even if Allan & Ashley ignored it.

Is Missing A Kid’s Birthday OK?

I found a “happy place for smart women” site with an article addressing this very question. And the author really did talk about it…not just say they would.

The article’s author Mia Freedman admits that she did miss her two-year-old’s birthday for an important, long desired interview with a Prime Minister. But they celebrated the birthday the next day, when she returned, and her toddler didn’t much notice the difference.

It helps that the child was so young. Plus, I’m not going to say that someone should lose out on an amazing personal or professional opportunity because of a child’s birthday. Although they should think hard about it first…

But, turns out Freedman was writing in response to a comment by a UK social commentator named Katie Hopkins who said:

“I would rather earn money than be with my kids on their birthday…Why is this is so hard to understand? Work today. Enjoy tomorrow more.”

Gulp. There are too many ways I want to respond to Hopkins, and few of them are “happy.”

Hopkins’ comment caused a response that merited her time on a follow-up program in which she said:

“My children recognize that I’m on the road a lot, I have to work a lot….They understand we’re a team, we all have to work together and it only takes a few steps from special child to spoilt child and I like to think mine are simply special. If I miss the day – I haven’t forgotten the day – but if I miss the day we’ll make it up some other time.”

Make an effort is what I say

Yes, this sounds more reasonable. Still, suggesting I am spoiling my child by trying to accommodate his or her birthday gets under my skin. Obviously I would not put my kids’ birthday ahead of keeping my job and the livelihood that sustains said kid and my family.

Still, I prefer to think of prioritizing your kid’s birthday before a work engagement as telling your child they are special to you rather than spoiling them. After all, the birthday is pretty much the one day a year a child can hope to be spoiled and put first on the family priority list. Where do you stand on this issue?

 

Pooch Parties — Woof Woof Good.

Animals & birthdays….who can pass up the cuteness? Not me. I am back with another birthday animal blog, because I love them!

This one is inspired by a fun canine birthday party an Illinois TV station covered. Comfort dogs Payton and Eli were turning four earlier this year, so Pawprint Ministries celebrated with a birthday party for several of the pooches it has out in action in six cities offering love and support.

dog birthday

The India Times picked up a story about police officers in Beijing, China, celebrating their service dog’s birthdays with dog-friendly cake.

dog birthday

Dog Birthdays Online

Social media is a great source of animal birthday party fun, too.

How about this hilarious video with Morrisville, Pennsylvania pet owners singing “Happy Birthday” to their contented pooch who pants contentedly and then eats a cookie without getting up from his chair all while his buddy dog has a real issue with his hat.

I also found about Le Doggy Café, in Montreal Quebec, which invites pet owners to celebrate their pup’s birthday with four-legged pals. Check out the tongue-licking, tail-wagging fun in this one

If you think these folks are in the minority, you’d be wrong. The Daily Mail reported on a dog food company’s survey findings that 75% of pet owners celebrate their furry friends’ birthdays. Some 58% also sing the “Happy Birthday” song.

dog birthday

The only drawback is that many people make their dog’s cakes out of dog food — that means the humans can’t share a piece!

Birthday Anxiety Around the World

birthdays

Foter.com

Birthday stress spans global borders apparently. In announcing its new Birthday on Demand service featuring character from kids’ shows singing Happy Birthday, Netflix shared many statistics too.

And loyal blog readers know I love a good birthday statistic! I’m still slowly but surely gathering data in my own birthday survey. Fill it out now — average time taken is 2 minutes!

In the meantime, I have to share Netflix’s findings based on 14,582 SurveyMonkey responses from June 26th-July 10th, 2017. The respondents were adults online who have a child 8 years or younger in the household in the United States, UK, Philippines, Singapore, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Turkey, France, Germany, and Italy.

Turns out that no matter which country the parent is sweating party planning is the norm. Although less so in some countries than others:

  • 46% of French parents say birthday planning isn’t stressful, while parents in Peru and the Philippines feel most stressed about kids’ birthdays (77%).
  • Parents in Turkey (56%) and India (52%) felt the most social media heat around their kids’ birthday parties.
  • Meanwhile, 91% of parents in Mexico have hosted character-themed parties for their children.
  • While all parents were more interested in saving money than time when it came to party planning (54% vs. 42%), Italian parents were most interested in birthday money-saving measures (72%).
  • Brazilian parents on the other hand, go all out for birthdays, racking up an average bill of $620 (vs. a global average of $250).

I’m sad these are all the results the company shared from its study. Some of the countries surveyed aren’t even mentioned! If my birthday book is ever accepted for publication, I’ll be following up with them to see if they’ll share the full survey results with me.

In the meantime, hope this glimpse into the global birthday psyche has made you feel just a little bit better about the anxiety you might feel preparing for your birthday prince or princess’s big day.

 

 

Appreciating the Birthday Spirit

Birthday kindness

Today marks the official end of my birthday week. Really, it’s been more like a birthday fortnight. Since, I started treating myself to “birthday” treats once Oct. 1 rolled around. As one more way to battle the letdown that I must now wait another year before celebrating again, I thought I would share some thoughts.

On my actual birthday, I started the day doing laundry and loading the dishwasher and…wondering why on earth I was doing these things on my birthday. Just as I was about to get grumpy, I reminded myself the birthday should be seen more as a state of mind.

Really, it shouldn’t matter what day I do what, as long as I am willing to actively appreciate the good in the day — any day.

Appreciating this Birthday

On this particular birthday I appreciated:

  • A lovely voicemail to start my day from a friend who was so happy to be on her way to see pandas. The joy in her voice would have been infectious any day, so I was happy my birthday gave her cause to call me that morning.
  • Having lunch with a friend who announced to our server it was birthday. The restaurant then responded by bringing a decorated plate to the table after our meal (shown above).
  • Taking the time to go to an art gallery I’ve walked by so many times before. Turns out the property is being reclaimed to be build up into business/residential, so I was extra lucky to check out the Charlotte Art League’s space before it was bulldozed.
  • Treating myself to a pedicure while reading a new book. Really, why is it so hard on other days to allow ourselves the time to just sit and relax for an hour and not feel guilty about it?
  • Getting to catch up with family members and friends by phone.
  • Going to dinner with “my guys” and having the excuse for all of us to dress up a little more than normal (my nine-year-old even brought out his fedora for the night out!).

Now, I originally did not appreciate going on to the next restaurant, where we planned to have dessert and watch the US World Cup qualifying soccer match, and finding they did not have 3 out of 4 of their offered desserts available. But, even this I could turn around as an opportunity to get frozen yogurt that night and get chocolate cake a different night.

You’ve got to love birthday versatility.

Ultimately, though, what this day made me realize is that so many of the aspects I enjoy about a birthday can and should be replicated on other days of the year too. Take it from a birthday queen — embrace the birthday spirit every day!

 

Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays

Foter.com (no, that is not me in the picture. I would not be walking so gracefully in heels!)

Yep, it’s my birthday today. And, today marks the third birthday of the birthdaysarebest.com blog. Yippee.

I thought it would be fun to share some insights into the blog to date. For instance, I continue to be amazed at the global reach of my ramblings (rants?) on birthdays.

Just looking at September 2017, I had views from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, India, Hong Kong SAR China, Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and China. But I’ve had people reading in Kuwait, Brazil, Philippines, India, Japan and other places too! That’s truly exciting!

My number of visitors has grown nearly 10 fold, too!

In 2014, the most viewed blog was this really short one on making a big deal about little ones’ birthdays. I don’t know if it wasn’t this cute pic of my kiddo that made it so appealing or not:

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In 2015, it was the one about different birthday traditions around the world. Complete with this creepy photo:

hungary-pulling-earlobes

2016’s top post was Who else remembers Paddy Whacks, with the ear yanking fun post coming in a close second. My blog on alternative birthday cake ideas from 2016 also did well, which makes me happy as I loved some of the options I found (although today, on my own birthday, I will no doubt be enjoying traditional chocolate cake).

Birthday cake

Photo credit: distopiandreamgirl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And this year, Paddy Whacks is far and away the leading blog for views. I doubt anyone has time to catch up with just three months left. But I was rewarded to see that my thoughts on making up for missing a birthday and the information I shared on your birth month impacting your personality were popular blogs too!

birthday blog

Image source

I’ll keep this in mind as I move forward into the next year of this blog. I am still pursuing publishers for the non-fiction birthday book I have started writing. But, in the meantime, I appreciate all of you readers for joining me on this blogging journey.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for blog ideas! Let me know what you wonder about birthdays and I’ll see what I can find out.