As soon as children start school, the birthday invitations begin. They always seem to come in clusters as well, starting at larger parties, then gradually as children move through the school, they get smaller. It’s hard deciding what to buy your own children for birthdays or Christmas but so much harder trying to work out what your children’s friends like or might want.
If I don’t know the child, then I’ll always ask N what the birthday child enjoys.
Things to think about when buying presents for kids:
- Girl or boy
- Stereotypical girl or boy, or more unisex present types – I usually go unisex, because even if they’re a girl who loves pink and glitter, sometimes parents would prefer something more neutral.
- What games or sports do they play
- Who are they friends with – if you know the friends it might give an idea of what the party child might like
- What after school clubs or activities do they do
- What lessons do they enjoy at school
I aim to get as much for my money as possible aiming for around £5 going up to £7 each party. When you’ve potentially got 10-20 parties a year, it can get overwhelming and cost a lot. Nowadays with discounts and sales, you can get some quite nice items for that price and you can always add a little extra to top it up if it’s looking a bit light.
Over the last few years we’ve reviewed quite a few toys and been to a few parties and seen what others buy for N as well. So I’ve got some choices you might not have thought of for birthday party presents for kids age 5 to 11 years.
My aim for gifts is that they’re not just tat, and they should last a reasonable amount of time. I’d rather buy something small but that will last a few years being suitable for all ages, rather than buying a cheaper but large toy that will break easily.
I also think bulk purchasing can work well. If you know you’re going to have x number of birthday parties, and children all have similar likes, then buy several items to make the most of discounts. Especially if they’re good for all ages, it means you shouldn’t end up with a massive stash afterwards.
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Gift ideas for kids age 5-11 years
Games and jigsaw puzzles
Puzzles are great for all ages, just look for age specific ones, or themes around popular films or activities the child likes. Current favourites here are anything Minions. They can be pricy so check out The Entertainer, Home Bargains and stores when sales are on.
Card games are great. They can be fun and educational, and are often suitable across ages. Gift ideas for kids age 5 to 11 years to take to parties
Bananagrams is like freeform scrabble (I’ve recently spotted 2 for £15 in ToysRus – bargain, and everyone seems to like them)
Dobble – picture matching fun, good for travelling and groups
UNO – retro game, based on colour and numbers
Top Trumps – these are available on hundreds of different themes, opt for something straightforward and classic like transport or wild animals, or go for the limited editions which reflect popular culture and cult movies.
I tend to add a book to another gift. Books are hard because chances are if the family like books and read with their children, the popular books are already owned. But I tend to go to someone like The Book People and buy a set of 10 books, then I can split them up to give to different children. Depending on the age or child, books like Horrid Henry, Beast Quest, Worst Witch, Roald Dahl etc go down well.
There’s not many children who turn their noses up at stationery. Smiggle is a big favourite, but you can also pick up cool pencil cases, order personalised pens or stamps, and a little notebook elsewhere (somewhere like Flying Tiger is cheap but fun). Or look out for secret lockable diaries.
Alternative gift ideas
Lego is a classic – look out for 3 in 1 kits, and make the most of 3 for 2 deals or big supermarket toy sales to get reduced prices.
Kites – I’m a big fan of these, they always work, and while they’re not expensive, add a book or other small toy, and it’s a great present
Face paint kit or other craft kits – Flying Tiger is a good place for little craft kits and quirky things
Fossil kits or mini science items like crystal growing kits – Hawkins Bazaar used to be the place to go to for things like this, although bear in mind once they’ve been used that’s it.
What type of gifts do your children take to parties? What are the best presents you’ve seen?
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