Birthdays, birthdays everywhere – sometimes it may feel like Baby has a busier social life than you do. While it can be wonderful that parties for toddlers this age are often so inclusive, it can also feel daunting to shop for gifts every few weeks. With a little strategizing, though, you can set yourself up for success when it comes to gifts for toddlers.
Option one: Research
Before you start planning, it’s important to do your homework. Many times on invitations, parents specifically ask for no gifts. Most really mean this because of space concerns or the general feeling that their child has enough things. Check the invitation to see what the parents mention. Several parents also list popular websites where they are registered for items their child needs at the moment. Make sure they want gifts and see if they offered any hints or send you in a particular direction.
It’s helpful to do some investigating if you have the time. Ask Baby what he knows about his friend. You can even ask the parents for ideas, if you happen to see them before the party. Does the birthday kid like playing outside? Do they have any favorite sports? What kind of books are they into? Simple questions can help at least get you a present that fits into their world of interests. Is this a family that loves to travel? Maybe a small suitcase might be fun. Is this a family that enjoys cooking together? Perhaps an apron with their initials on them. If this friend is particularly into animals these days, you could look into books, coloring books, a magazine subscription to the National Geographic or new bird pajamas. Showing you took the extra time to look into their interests goes a long way.
Option two: One (super cool) size fits all
Another route is the “must-have-toy” route. This is a gamble because the birthday child could already have this particular toy, or someone else has also bought it, but when you’re the one showing up with the best toy it’s fun to see the child’s reaction. There are several websites dedicated to creating lists of great gifts for each age group and you can check those for ideas. When you enter two-year-old or three-year-old on many toy sites, you’ll be taken through a world of age-appropriate books, toys, and craft-making gift ideas, and you can filter based on the particular interest of the child, if you know them.
Option three: The gift of giving
Another avenue is to give a charitable donation in the child’s name. Parents who don’t want gifts will sometimes mention nonprofits and organization that their family supports and you can make a donation in their name. It is common also for families to have a 529 Plan (College Savings Account) set up already and you can ask to make a donation. Toys come and go but an education is an investment that lasts.
Whatever you decide, it’s not a bad idea to have a few gifts that are gender neutral and for a wide age-range set aside at home for a rainy day. Keeping a stack of children’s birthday cards handy can be a great time-saver in case of emergency party invitations, too.