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Category:  Children:  Children:Activities and Fun

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Frugal Gifts for all Those Kids' Birthday Parties

By Cyndi Roberts

Are your kids invited to numerous birthday parties throughout the year? Buying a gift, paper to wrap it in, ribbon and a bow, plus a card every time can get expensive and tiresome, can't it!

Through the years I have discovered some easy ways to save money and time and always be prepared for those invitations.

My three children are older now, but when they were young, it seemed as if one of them was invited to a friend's birthday party almost every week! Usually the invitations didn't arrive until 1 or 2 days before the party. I got really fed up with running to the store in our small town and trying to find an appropriate gift on short notice.

I realized the first thing I needed to do was to get organized. So I set aside a box in the hall closet and started to fill it with gift items suitable for children around my children's ages.

Each time I went to the discount or dollar store, I looked at the clearance sales; especially after Christmas. I tried to keep at least one gift for each child on hand at all times.

I have always loved to make things so I was always on the lookout for anything I could craft that kids would like. One item I came across that the kids really liked was gift jars. I would fill a pint or quart jar (reused mayo or pizza sauce jars) with small items. Some of the things I used were pens, erasers, notepads, small cars, toy soldiers, hair ribbons, stickers, candy, gum. Anything I found that would fit. I would often buy in bulk and divide the items between several jars.

Children love anything with their name on it, so I would paint their name on the side of the jar or cross-stitch it onto a cover for the lid, and I had a great gift!

This idea would also work using recycled boxes or tins. Garage sales are a good place to pick up tins of all sizes and colors. Just spray paint if needed. You don't even have to decorate the top or sides, just wrap ribbon or raffia around the tin and tie a bow on top.

Little girls always enjoy receiving more clothes for their Barbie dolls. If you sew, you can make gifts your daughter's friends will love from your scraps of fabric and lace. And the clothes you make are much better quality than the ones you pay premium prices for in the store.

One last secret to giving great birthday gifts is: remember that children love to open a package! Just taking tissue out of a gift bag is not the same!

But wrapping a package doesn't have to break the bank either. At garage sales, always look for anything that can be used to wrap gifts--wallpaper, drawer liner,even scraps of fabric. Look for yarn and pieces of lace or other trim to use instead of ribbon. In other words, just use your imagination!

Dollar stores are a great place to pick up inexpensive wrapping paper in a pinch. The flat, folded kind is cheaper than buying it on a roll, just cover the creases with ribbon. Kids aren't going to take time to notice, anyway!

Even an inexpensive gift will bring raves from the birthday boy or girl when it's wrapped imaginatively. Tie a lollipop on top or write their name in glitter. Use your imagination and get creative!

Your children will love it when the gift they bring is the hit of the party!

Cyndi Roberts has been happily married to her best friend for 34 years and is a proud mother of 3.  In her newsletter, "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" she uses her years of experience as a wife, mother and  chief budget officer to help others learn how to "live the good life...on a budget!" To subscribe, visit her online at


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