Children's birthday gifts

I have a small issue that I am currently wrestling with, and wondered if any of you could help. It is about giving birthday and Christmas gifts to the children of my friends.

Basically, I have noticed that there is a trend for children these days to have huge birthday parties, however old they are, where 20+ children are invited. Each child is expected to bring a gift, and then all the gifts are opened at the party. There does seem to be a certain level of gift that is expected to be given.

Now, we do not have the finances to purchase £10-£15 gifts for each and every child, and then for their parents at their birthdays too, but yet I don't want Ruth and Benjamin to feel embarrassed by the gifts that they give because they are not as expensive as the gifts of their friends.

I struggle to give presents to children who already have more toys than they will ever play with,( and ooh look at that, having a party with lots of people coming to get even more presents) who never say thank you (and the parents don't say thank you either), and I have never seen any evidence of our gift being used or appreciated. I certainly don't want to be spending a lot of money on gifts when they are looked at, put down and forgotten about. I would much rather spend that money on my own children!

I feel slightly guilty about feeling this way since the gifts that our children are given are usually incredibly generous. But I have a budget, and I would rather that my children didn't have to go without in order to give other children things that they can't have!

Am I wrong to feel this way, and what can I do about it?


Amy said…
Hi, I can't remember where I found your blog but I was excited to find a blog from someone else in the UK!
I completely agree with the total madness of birthday presents. We have gone against the grain a bit. One way is by trying to make things. A home decorated pot with a Sunflower in it, some home-made biscuits, something knitted or sewn. I have also decided to not feel guilt about not spending a fortune on gifts.

Other way is to make deals with certain families: not to buy Christmas presents and only spend a certain amount at birthday. (I have a deal with God parents that they only get their God child a Christmas/birthday present not all the children)

One Christmas we asked people to only give our girls one small present each. This cut down on the huge piles of stuff we ended up with. Somehow when you start limiting what people are giving you it is easier to go smaller on gifts to others.

Once I started being honest with others about the cost of presents I discovered that a lot of people agreed with me that it is all madness!
I hope that helps a bit.
Val said…
As a non-parent, I can only comment on this as a giver of gifts to the children of friends. Personally, I've found that by giving a small, homemade gift, you can save some money, though the time involved is of course increased. My standard Christmas gift is a set of flannel pjs and a book. I like to give books as gifts because they are 1) inexpensive, 2) educational, and 3) useful. I have to imagine that you can pick up a couple of new ones for a pound or two? I don't know much about UK prices, of course, but I know that such books (often second hand) can be much cheaper than a toy.
Miss Mixie said…
My suggestion would be to either give hand-made things, or shop around for good quality second-hand gifts. You could even build up a store of age-appropriate gifts bought at thrift stores so that you'd have something ready whenever a party rolled around. It's amazing how many nice things you can find at extremely low prices at thrift stores.

I also suggest delicious treats--fudge or the like. Cake-pops are adorable.

Hope that helps :)
Cassiescuddles said…
I love giving gifts, although it does get expensive. One thing I do, is have a "present cupboard", when I am shopping, and see something that is on sale and is suitable, I buy it and put it away. This is helped a lot, as I don't have to blow the budget to get a present last minute. The other idea is to make something, although for some, that might not be appreciated as much (sad, I know). It is pretty sad, that so many don't so thank you though. Maybe we should all work on that one eh?
benny'lola said…
Not usually one for leaving comments on blogs - but yours really hit a chord. I am a grandmother now but there were times when my children were invited to parties just as you described. Don't feel guilty about the gift your child gives. I am not one for giving "toys" - that's the parent's job. I have always given books as they are educational and will not be put aside like a useless toy. One of the gifts I love to give is one of the child him/herself of a photo that I had taken when they were visiting. I frame it as well -
Our family has a "deal" that only the children will get gifts at Christmas - and we even limit that to a certain dollar (pound, euro, etc.) amount.
Your blog is fun to read...thank you!