Reflections On Buying Another Child a Birthday Present



I honestly thought my daughter getting invited to a birthday party sounded like a fun few hours of stress free joy. What a fool I am.

If it were up to me I would just throw some money towards a college account. But not every kids’ birthday party we go to is for my friend’s children. Sometimes they’re for my child’s classmates, who I don’t know as well.

Personally I know I’m very difficult and I’m obnoxious when it comes to getting stuff. I don’t like my kids getting a lot of crap and therefore I don’t think other people‘s kids really need a lot of crap either. But when they don’t give you any kind of idea of what their family values are, it makes it very difficult for me to shop for something as simple as a three-year-old’s birthday present.

So here I am at Target wandering around aimlessly.

Did I ask her mother what kind of gift she would like hoping she would say that she values experiences over material items? Yes I did, with no help. Did I already re-gift the Christmas presents my children got that I don’t want in my house? Yes I already did that too. 

Do kids like plants? No. Probably no one would be excited to get a birthday plant under 25. Should I get her a compact box that might help her arrange things that kids like? I know my daughter loves to stuff things into packages and boxes. Maybe it would help her be more organized. Maybe she would fill it with trash (“treasures”), that young children seem to always find. What about something fun that she and her family can do together, like make sugar cookies. I don’t want to assume they give their kid a lot of sugar… I don’t give my kids a lot of sugar. What about something consumable like nail polish, or is that too superficial? I shouldn’t be presumptuous and get them cute training underwear right? I know all of these things would be welcome in my house.

I am definitely overthinking this.

Birthday presents should be fun. I don’t want to be accused of not getting a child something they would actually enjoy. This Christmas my niece, liked her Christmas present but said it was not fun. And she was right. The gift I got her was not fun. It was useful, practical and tasty but it was not fun. Next year I’m going to add a bath bomb. Bath bombs are fun right? Are they fun when you’re three? She’s probably too young for bath bombs? UGGGHH!

What do I know about this child? Yesterday Suzie pointed out her Frozen backpack! What can I find that’s frozen? Oh, of course, literally anything. Maybe this will be good for now- travel magic marker pack with glittery Frozen coloring pages. That seems practical, convenient and relatively consumable. When she finishes coloring everything there’s no reason to keep it! I need to wrap this before my kid sees it!

I know there’s a line. I don’t want to burden the family with what I think is good for their kid and it’s something that they themselves don’t want in their home. But it’s also not up to me to decide what a kid does or doesn’t need. Just a little more guidance next time would be appreciated…