How Much Do You Spend On A Present/Gift For A Child?

I’m not sure I have ever given it too much thought if I’m honest, I tend to see something I think will make a thoughtful/useful gift and buy it. Usually books. Usually around £15.

I am talking more specifically about presents you would buy for another child’s birthday – say someone who your son or daughter goes to nursery or school with, and they have invited your kids to enjoy their celebratory party. Obviously budgets for close friends and family would differ, you can see some of the gifts I chose for my sister’s daughter in the Gifts Ideas For Newborns feature.

I remember seeing something on social media a few years ago that Myleene Klass had posted about a recent party invitation she had received from a Mum at her daughter’s school. It read something along the lines that they didn’t want gifts as such, but instead her child would very much like a certain type of desk for their bedroom so could everyone send a cheque/make a BACS transfer instead.

Myleene was suitably incensed. I was completely baffled by the whole thing.

And then last week I happened to have Loose Women on in the background and they were discussing this exact subject. I would like to point out that daytime TV is not a regular occurrence whilst working from home for yours truly – normally I have music so I can concentrate whilst simultaneously jigging along in the vain hope I will burn off some crisps. Although I always watch Lorraine. I bloody love her. Ahem I digress.

As I was saying…..Janet Street Porter was asking Penny Lancaster (ex model, has been married to Rod Stewart for years) how much she spends on her children’s school friend’s birthday gifts and she responded with “Everyone spends in-between £10 -£15”. Janet made some wisecrack about her being the wife of a multi-millionaire and surely the recipient might think a gift that cost a tenner could be considered measly (!) but Penny stood firm and said personal wealth or anything else along those lines simply shouldn’t come into it.

Goodness, and there was me, thinking you could buy some enjoyable illustrated reading material that would be fun for both the parents and the kids and that was that.

How much do you spend? Ever been on the receiving end of a Myleene type request or heard of someone that has?

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Charlotte is still determined to wear her fancy cowboy boots, even if Mabel does plaster the tassels in jam.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea

42 Comments. Leave new

For my two closest friends children, I’ll spend around £20 (I see them every week, know their children well and they and my kids are like cousins to each other).

For other good friends I would spend £10-£15. For pre-school/school friends, no more than £10, probably a bit less.

Between them my children were invited to around 40 birthday parties last year – the gifts add up!

For what it’s worth, I genuinely wouldn’t care if someone showed up to my childrens’ parties without a gift or with one from the 99p store.

We’ve been sent gift lists for kids birthday parties before and I whilst it’s undeniably practical, it feels a bit off for some reason. Maybe because i enjoy choosing gifts myself? Maybe because it seems a bit presumptuous? Not sure!

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:09 am

40 parties, goodness Fionnula that’s a lot! As Mabel has’t started school yet there have only been about 8 this year altogether, but yes, spending £10 or more would certainly add up. When I highlighted my £15 ish budget that would also include wrapping and a card and actually, sometimes the exact same book I might buy would be full RRP and sometimes less depending on what offers are on, it certainly pays to shop around. I have never been given a gift list and neither would I ever send one out (!) it all seems to be evolving into a wedding.

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My goodness, it really does add up! Will we be seeing a Rock My Birthday soon?! xx

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 12:47 pm

I think we should definitely do some kind of lovely gifts within various budgets type feature, it would be useful for everyone x

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Interesting and timely – three birthdays for all the family this week. I’d say we live in an affluent area where its about the APPEARANCE of what you buy, the school gate parents will definitely judge. Here (Cheshire) I’d say people spend in the region of £10-15. Where a parent is having a party catered or hiring somewhere (you can’t even say “at home” means low key after the whole “hiring a petting zoo” home party) then people probably go to £20 because its recognised that the parents have spent more on entertainment and food for the little ones.

I’m firmly in Camp Penny. Same price…parental income shouldn’t come into it. And, for the record, I think anything more than a tenner is too much.

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:13 am

Goodness, I can’t imagine going to a party where the parents would judge what you buy as a gift, it makes me feel really uncomfortable just thinking about it. Have you watched Gypsy on Netflix? I watched a few episodes and their was one where the main character (played by Naomi Watts) threw her daughter a party, the situation was exactly as you described above and I thought perhaps it was a bit far-fetched and just for TV. Maybe not!

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I really don’t understand why people feel that they should buy more expensive presents when attending a more expensive event. When did this start? My husband and I paid for our own wedding and had a lovely low cost day (most as it was diy). His cousin got married last year. Her father paid for everything. It was the most expensive venue, dress, food, etc that she could have chosen (it was the worst wedding I’ve ever been to!). His family said we had to put in more than the usual £100 as it was an expensive wedding! What?! Why is this a thing? And now it’s the same for kids parties????? I’m shocked!

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We just bought our first party gift yesterday so this is eerily timely…

I spent £7.99 on an educational game and then added some stickers. Plus card it’s about a tenner. And I wouldn’t spend more or expect more for my child.

In previous years what I like to do at Christmas is buy some multipacks from the Book People, who always have ridiculous bargains, and then break them up so each child gets two or three Miffy books. Is that mean? I love giving gifts but some individuals have never bothered with even a card back, so while I wouldn’t want their small person to miss out I don’t want to splash out!

I’m also a huge fan of regifting. We got given a lot of things with Paddy that I knew I wouldn’t use and have since given away- gorgeous dungarees he had already grown out of, Jojo MB shoes and sock ons.

Between the ever growing number orb friends children and the new for us phenomenon of parties it really adds up!

This party on Saturday has bacon butties for parents which makes me feel I should also give them a bottle of plonk or something???! Minefield.

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:15 am

Bacon butties, that does sound lovely (at 16 weeks I appreciate anyone offering me carbohydrates) but yes….I’m not sure what I would think I should take if that was the case?! Probably nothing other than the kid’s gift to be honest but still you are right, absolute bloody minefield.

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£7 and up to £12 for best friends, we really try to search for items that’s are educational or a little more arts and crafts rather than toys. Failing that I get books as you can get books on offer nearly everywhere these days and no one really knows how much you have paid!

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Also timely here – next weekend we have a party on both Saturday and Sunday and they are the fourth and fifth parties we’ve been invited to since September! I too try and keep it to £10 including the card but one of the parties is for the child of a good friend of mine so I am spending a little more because I know them more. For the first two parties I was very disorganised and ended up buying last minute craft gifts from Sainsburys. Must get an Amazon Prime account for such occurrences.. Now I am trying to plan ahead, spot some bargains and get some more interesting gifts but it is a minefield..

Whilst on the subject of parties, does anyone else’s partner try anything they can to get out of attending?!

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Yes to this!!! We had this exact conversation last night. He was all like “oh I’ll do some jobs around the house and it IS rugby day” and I’m like hello???? You could take her!! And Paddy and I stay home! Before you get to skive off doing sport all afternoon…! The daily grind of fighting for equality….

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Edd never ever goes to the parties. I always laugh when I turn up and there are loads of Dad’s there or both parents!! xx

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:18 am

Ha ha ha my husband is the opposite – he’s always the one that wants to go?!!!

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Clearly I’m stingy or my daughter has too many parties to go to! My general budget is £5-£10 max, as she can have 5/6 nursery parties a month and it all adds up. I try to be organised and buy gifts when I see them on sale so hopefully I don’t look that miserly.

When it was my daughter’s party earlier this year I’d say the most expensive gift was around the £15 mark, but generally they were £10. x

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:17 am

Nope you’re not stingy Sara, I didn’t realise some folks have so many parties to attend, and it is the thought/effort that counts. And absolutely to being organised and buying stuff in the sale in advance – it makes absolutely perfect sense.

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I’m not looking forward to this at all but hopefully have a little way to go, having a three month old…! I remember my mum having a drawer of emergency presents for kids parties, mostly consisting of bubble bath… I wish this was still acceptable but it sounds like it could be too inexpensive!!

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It’s amazing that once a child hits 3 years old they have incredible social lifes, my 4 year old attends a private and school nursery so we receive endless party invites. I tend to stick to the £10 mark but if I see something slightly more or less that I know the child will like I will go for that. Am not one for ensuring each present I buy comes to the exact same amount. I find board games, crafty stuff and books are always well received and toys are sooooo expensive now that you can only get very little for £10. Am a big fan of The Book People multi packs, they are great for keeping in the house incase you need a last minute present and I also used them to give a book each instead of party bags at my sons last birthday party. I would never expect a parent to spent a certain amount on my child regardless of there personnel income.

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 8:54 am

Definitely going to check out the Book People multi packs – they sound like great value. Really like the idea of a book instead of a party bag x

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I’m hosting a Pumpkin party and instead of party bags, they’re getting a little wooden pumpkin to take home. They were 42p each! I’ve painted and personalised them to jazz them up though 😊

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Great post! Really interesting to hear everyones thoughts. I have 6 close girl friends with children the same age as my son and they each have 2/3 children so it’s an expensive year for us with all those birthdays! (This is another post topic entirely but would just like to point out that I pay for all these gifs and then hubby wonders why i’m always skint, haha!)

I spend around £10 on gifts for children of my close friends and then if my son is invited to a party, I will spend around £5 on a nice book or a game. B&M is brilliant for toys and games that are reasonable in price.

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I normally budget £10 for gift. I’m starting to wonder whether it’s worth buying cards as most likely they end up in the recycling!

I actually thought that the request towards a big present was extremely practical. How many times are gifts taken back for credit due to not their taste, duplicates etc.

There’s just so much stuff these days so I think contributing to something that’s wanted/needed is great!

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I should also add that I’ve made a Pinterest board of gifts for O for birthday/Xmas for family so they have an idea of our (my) taste and what she needs. I’m trying to dial down the amount of pink and have a variety of colours and toys.

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 2:35 pm

Claire I think hinting to family is a good thing from both sides – my parents always ask what we would like for Mabel for Christmas, rather than lots of toys that she probably already has we usually ask for a contribution towards a bigger item that we really need and they then chose a few bits themselves that they know Mabel will love. I like to have an idea for family gifts too (although admittedly sometimes I ignore it completely if I find something special/unusual) x

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We’ve recently been to our first party and took a couple of books and a play dough bargain set found in B&M. I’ve been taught well by a friend with 4 kids and already knew about ‘the present cupboard’ stocked up with multi buys, bargains and book sets broken down. I reckon about £5-£10 is fair for a kids party.

And yes, definitely yes to partners avoiding going. Mine actually volunteered to go shoe shopping with me and the wee one in the morning….clearly building up brownie points in his head to make the afternoon pre-party statement ‘I’ll just leave you to it’ seem fair!

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Yep, £10-15 all in is definitely about right.

If I know the other mums well then sometimes two or three of us will pool our budget and get a joint present which gives us more flexibility on what we can choose.
If I’m really stuck for ideas then occasionally I will ask the mum is there is anything in particular their child enjoys or is into at the moment so that they get a present they will use. Anyone I’ve asked has always been grateful!

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I have followed in my mums footsteps and have a present drawer full of suitable gifts for school friends. I pick up lego, books or craft kits when I see them and keep them in there. I’m pretty good and buy things in the sales or offers but I don’t think that matters as you get a much nicer present. Playmobil sets are also an excellent gift as they are so reasonable. Sometimes I don’t have quite the right age gift so it’s an emergency Argos dash before a party but it normally works. I tend to spend no more than £10 on school friends including cards but more on close friend’s children. I wouldn’t expect people to spend a lot on my girl’s either. xxx

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I try to buy gifts when I see them so you have something in you cupboard ready to go. Aldi are great for gifts for kids at nursery. Lots of games that sell for double at John Lewis. Recently brought a stack of books that convert into vehicles to play in. RRP says £16.99 but Aldi price under a fiver. I also think the pound shop is excellent. I have made up craft sets for a fiver. Also bulk packs of birthday cards will save you a fortune.

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Definitely under £10, probably around £5 if I’m honest (my son is almost two, I cna see this might go up a bit once he is older). I’m a massive fan of Tiger/Flying Tiger for kids gifts – you can pick up some nice crayons and colouring book or some playdough, Plasticine or small toys and a nice bag and card for around a fiver there. We had a three years olds party the other week and we got her a stickerbook and a book of paper dolls, gift bag and card and a think it was about £6 all up. The cards are £1 each or like 3 of £2 or something so I usually stock up.

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Charlotte O'Shea
5th October 2017 12:23 pm

Emma Flying Tiger has some excellent gift ideas really reasonably priced – I think I might take advice from folks on here and start a gift drawer and stock up when I see some suitable items x

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Good plan! Even for adults – they have lots of nifty little home things I’d love to receive as a gift!

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I usually buy something in the region of £10-15 pounds. If it’s a close friend then I spend more and usually get something personalised. I was actually out shopping yesterday trying to find a suitable gift for a mother and daughter. My friend is celebrating her 30th and it’s her daughter’s 4th birthday. I went to my go to favourite shop for gifts, The White Company, and was so lucky that their sale had just started! They were literally just putting out the stock. I managed to get the little girl a gorgeous dressing gown. It was slightly out of my usual budget range but it was too cute not to buy. I got my friend a rhubarb candle to go with her bottle of Edinburgh Gin (rhubarb flavour). All in I spent a little over £50. A bit excessive but I always spend more on significant birthdays and this is a lovely friend. 😊 http://www.thewhitecompany.com/Winter-Isabella-Robe-1-12yrs/p/winter-isabella-robe?swatch=White+Blue

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I think price shouldn’t come into it really, surely it’s about the thought and the little one having something to open? I tend to buy books or stuff in sales and stash until the birthdays. I did a great JL sale shop for the present cupboard and some bits from TK Maxx. I have expensive taste but zero pennies so this works well 😂 I also stash cards from sales or TK Maxx. It’s always cards that get me – £3.50 for a nice card?!! Robbery! When my boys are a bit older I’ll get them to make cards – fun for them, practically free and way more thoughtful.
Also a fan of regifting – what’s the point keeping 3 of the same game?

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Card Factory do 10 cards for £1 – I stock up there a couple of times a year!

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Home Sense (interiors version of TK Maxx) is my secret weapon for children’s presents – since Milo started school he’s been invited to tonnes of parties and I don’t want spend more than about £5-7 on each one. Home Sense always have loads of toys and those Busy Books which are great presents down to really cheap prices. I tend to stock up a couple of times a year and then have a drawer full as I always forget he’s going to said party until it’s then too late to dash out and get a present!

Never been to a party with a gift list, although I’ll always remember at Ralphy’s first birthday party I beautifully packaged up some number one biscuits and gave them out to each of the guests as party bags/ favours – one of Milo’s older friends came up to me and told me that it wasn’t actually a party bag, and that a party bag had lots of little things in it; I had to go round the house finding little toys that I could give him to take home! Ever since then it’s been back to a bag filled with plastic tat! xo

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Kim I have this party bag dilemma the whole time!! I’ve tried to give one nice item for the girls parties but have been informed by Molly that one item is not a party bag! I’d stocked up in the sales on necklaces, hair clips etc which looked great. Honestly, I would have thought one nice item was better than spending loads of money on stuff that ends up in the bin.

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It’s so funny isn’t it! I do at least make sure I package all the plastic tat up in a lovely bag so it goes with the party decor!! 😂🙄

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Yep – Home Sense / TKMAXX all the way, or buy in the end of season sales and save in the loft. I do make sure it’s something they would like and is good quality, or it’s not a bargain then. And card factory bulk buy cards for kids. That said, Amazon Prime has been a lifesaver for friends who live further away, I just get it delivered to them and no need to mess about wrapping and going to the Post Office etc.

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Great post RMF. I Would love to see a post on people’s thoughts on baby showers and gifts…..

I’ve been invited to many baby showers but recently it seems to be turning into a wedding, with the expection to buy expensive gifts, pay for afternoon tea etc at pricey venues. I’ve even had a gift list sent for one!

I always buy a gift when the baby is born so do people buy twice, once at baby shower and after?

Would love to see a post and hear other opinions xx

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My friends threw me a baby shower and they knew I wouldn’t want lots of gifts so asked everyone to bring a book for baby. It was such a lovely idea and all the books were written in by the sender, my friends made a beautiful book crate which is used in my daughters nursery now and I love reading the books and messages to her.
Some people, close friends and family really did also buy her a gift when she arrived. We were massively overwhelmed by the number of gifts we received, we hadn’t really expected it and it was so lovely and thoughtful of everyone.
For a friend’s baby shower I bought a few little bits for her (mug, teething necklace, chocolates) and crafted something for the nursery then bought baby an outfit once he had arrived.

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For my baby shower my friends chipped in to get me a pregnancy massage as they knew I’d want to get my own baby stuff and that I’d get a lot when baby arrived. It was perfect!

I recently got invited to a baby shower for a friend’s third baby. I think that’s a bit OTT as surely by your third you don’t need anything? I didn’t have one for my second for that reason.

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My son had his 4th birthday party in July and 30 of his friends came, each with a gift (only one of which was a book)!!! Whilst I have no problem spending £10-15 on his friends‘ gifts when it came to my son, I couldn’t help but wonder how much better it would have been if each of his friends got him a card and put £5 in it. That way instead of a garage full of stuff (he even forgot he got and will end up in a charity shop anyway) we could have spent £150 on an unforgettable experience or one proper gift like swimming lessons or a big Lego set. Oh and imagine how much time would be saved if those busy and tired parents didn’t have to spend their Friday afternoon searching for some Paw Patrol character… 🙂 Don’t even get me started on party favours, what a waste! I am a notorious declutterer so perhaps you will understand why I am saying all this 🙂

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