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.