The first thing I do is shop for toys on sale after holidays and seasons. This is a great time to stock up on brand name toys at bargain prices. I keep a box in my closet where I store all of extra toys I buy throughout the year and have a master list on my computer for quick reference.
I also keep any leftover party favors from my own children's parties - you never know when you can use them again. Stock up on colored galvanized buckets, sand pails and Chinese-style take-out boxes.
Below is an example of a gift my daughter gave at a party last week for a little boy. Separately, the contents of the bucket aren't impressive, but when combined into a theme package, it becomes a nice gift. A pretty package makes even the cheapest gift special - something little by itself becomes more significant when paired with like items.
I purchased the sand pail at Dollar Tree for, yes, you guessed it, $1.00! I wrote the birthday boy's name with a red Sharpie and filled the bottom of the bucket with red crinkle filler ($1.00). I decorated the bucket with road sign stickers from my scrapbook collection.
The theme of this bucket was Hot Wheels cars. I only spent about $5.85 putting this all together.
The contents of the bucket include:
- 6 Hot Wheels cars - free with coupons at Christmas
- Bubble Playset - free with CVS Extra Care Bucks, plus this was a leftover from Emma's Strawberry Shortcake party favors
- Hot Wheels coloring book - $1.00 from Dollar Tree
- Crayola Crayons - leftover from Strawberry Shortcake party favors
- Giant Lollipop - $1.00 from WalMart
- Personalized license plate - $1.47 from WalMart
Putting together a theme gift tells the recipient that you really put some thought into the gift. The Hot Wheels bucket was a hit and didn't break the bank!
My 9 nine year old recently went to a party where he gave a movie theme gift. I purchased a plastic popcorn container from Target's Dollar Spot and filled it with a $5.00 movie from WalMart (the Looney Tunes movie with Brendan Frasier), some movie type boxed candy (88¢ each from WalMart) and a couple of packages of microwave popcorn from our pantry. You could also do the same thing with a video rental gift card.
Here are some other ideas:
- Art supplies - Shop the school supply sales in the fall for great deals on crayons, markers, construction paper, etc. Put everything into a galvanized bucket personalized with the child's name.
- Bugs - Fill a bucket with a bug box, butterfly net, plastic bugs, gummy worms and a bug coloring book (all can be found at Dollar Tree)
- Gardening - Fill a pretty pot or watering can with child sized gardening gloves & tools, seeds, book of flowers and gummy worms
- Summer - Fill a sand pail with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, jump rope, kite, Sun Chips, pinwheel and sand toys (all can be found at Dollar Tree)
- Camping - Fill a galvanized bucket with smores ingredients, flashlight and a book about the outdoors
- Teen Girl - Use a pretty bucket or cosmetic bag to hold nail polish, toe separators, nail files and a teen magazine
- Book - pair a popular book like Give A Moose A Muffin with a muffin mix, whisk, mini muffin tin and child apron
The possibilities are really endless and they are so much fun to put together. Plus, you know that you are giving a unique and thoughtful gift that goes beyond a price tag!