I’m going to share a little secret with you. I don’t pay full price for birthday presents*. Seriously, my best parenting secret ever, once your kids are past the baby stage and into the “you got invited to another birthday party?!?” stage, is the gift closet. It doesn’t have to be a closet, just a space where you can stash toys when you find them cheap.
Now that Noah’s in grade school, I don’t know half the kids whose parties he gets invited to. I don’t know what they like. And I certainly don’t want to spend part of my week searching target for a perfect toy for someone I don’t know. This is where the gift closet comes in.
Whenever I see a great deal on a toy for someone around either of my kids ages, I buy it, and into the gift closet it goes. They get invited to boys’ parties and girls’, so I buy for both. When they get an invitation, they go down and pick something out that they thing the birthday boy or girl will like. It’s win-win. They pick out something nice, and I only paid a fraction of what it should cost.
Now is a particularly good time to start a gift closet. Amazon has some crazy toy markdowns going on, and Target is starting their post-holiday toy clearance. (Here’s a hint – 50% off or more.) Sometimes it takes a little searching to find the good deals, but it’s always worth it, especially when that last minute invitation comes home (as an aside, I truly don’t understand this – once Noah hit elementary school, invitations started coming home in his backpack literally days before the party. Apparently some parents don’t understand planning ahead.).
Every December, I clean out the gift closet. If a gift has been languishing in there for a while, I give it to Toys For Tots. That way, everyone wins.
(Added gift closet bonus – if your child receives a gift they already have, just make a note of who he got it from, and add it to the closet. Just make sure you don’t regift it to the original giver!)
* we do make exceptions for best friends. When we know someone that well, that we see them a lot and know what they like and don’t like, what they have and don’t have, then I’ll take my kids to the store and let them pick out exactly what they want to get their friend for his or her birthday.