In the past few years we’ve had many parties to attend and gifts to buy. I’m not complaining because they have all been happy occasions for people we love: engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, milestone birthdays and other fun celebrations. The wedding-related parties have slowed down a bit, as have the baby showers, but one party segment has grown this year: kids’ birthday parties.
As a kid I remember the rule that you had to bring Valentine’s cards for everyone in your class, so no one would feel left out. That rule has been extended, and kids are now expected to invite everyone in their class to his or her birthday party. I have mixed feelings about this, but I won’t get into that. What it comes down to is with 24 kids in class, your kid is going to be invited to a lot of birthday parties. Since no one can (or wants to) fit that many kids in their house, parents host parties at fun places like gymnastics gyms and Pump It Up, so your kid will want to go to each and every one. I knew the parties were happening too often when I got a text from another mom who just had a new baby, asking if there was party that weekend that she was forgetting about.
For kids I know well (my friends’ kids, my nieces, Clay’s close school friends), it’s easy to buy something I know they will like and I’m happy to do it. It gets a little more complicated when buying gifts for school friends. Not knowing them or their parents, I agonize over what to buy, and the money spent and time shopping add up quickly. I have a new strategy though: buy in bulk!
First, presents. Most little boys like cars, superheroes and sports, while the girls like princesses and Barbies. I’ve noticed a lot of toys and books on clearance after Christmas and I’ve decided to buy three girl gifts and three boy gifts at a time. That should cover us for the next few school birthdays and Clay can still pick which one he wants to give to which kid. I buy physically smaller items, so they can all fit in one box in my garage. I can’t stand clutter, so it wouldn’t make sense to save time and money by buying in bulk, while making myself crazy looking at a pile of toys every day.
Second, gift wrap. To be prepared for kid parties, I buy a roll of boy wrapping paper and a roll of girl wrapping paper. I usually get it at Hallmark, as their quality is the best and they often have it on sale. Good quality makes my terrible wrapping look somewhat less embarrassing. I also buy a stack of generic birthday cards from Hallmark’s 99 cent collection.
When the next invite appears in Clay’s cubby, I won’t be running to Target the morning of the party or paying extra for Amazon’s Saturday delivery. All I have to do is stroll out to the garage, let Clay pick a toy before I wrap it, and we’re ready for the party! Now the only question left is who will take him – Chase or me?