This is how birthday party invites usually go down at my house.
1) One of the girls bring home a birthday party invitation.
2) RSVP and check to see whether they’re having cake or cupcakes so I know which allergen free version we need to make.
3) Con Jack into baking said cake or cupcakes.
4) The day of the party, there’s a whirlwind of stockings and dresses, because one must wear a dress and stockings to a party. Honestly, not sure why I bother buying these girls pants, ever.
5) I remember that we have to pick up a gift. Then I berate myself for not just ordering one two days prior on Amazon and saving myself a trip to the store.
6) Run to the store. Procure gift. Run to the gift wrap aisle. Grab a gift bag and tissue, because nooooobody has time for wrapping right now. Snag a card. Head to the checkout. The gift wrapping material + card costs nearly as much as the blinky, noisy, light-up plastic thing in primary colors, perfect for angering parents and delighting children.
7) Make weird noises, because this stress/madness could have been prevented.
I really like my mental health, so here’s what I’ve done to avoid doing last minute birthday party attending prep (which is not only the most stressful option, but also the most expensive).
Step 1: Set phasers to stun. Just kidding, actually it’s just buying some gifts online. Generally speaking, stocking up on gifts that are appropriate for kids ages 4 to 8 covers almost any birthday party we attend. I like gifts that are easy to wrap (boxes, not like, hippo shaped… or those packages where only part of the gift is under cardboard. LET ME LIVE, FISHER-PRICE).
I like to have gifts in varying price ranges, depending on the situation. I don’t know if this even makes sense, but depending on how close we are to the child, we might give a little more. (Is that weird? I can’t tell if that’s weird.) I make them easy to pair up (you’ll see in a minute), and then just pick out a gift when party time comes.
Some go-tos that are easy to wrap, are within that 4 to 8 age group, and are all within the $10 – $20 price range (which many of you stated is your range of preference):
1) Sequence for Kids
2) Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (This is a favorite in our house!)
3) Wooden Dinosaur Stamp Set
4) Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?
6) LEGO 3 in 1 Creator Red Rotors
7) Wooden Alphabet Stamp Set
8) Wooden Animal Stamp Set
9) Dragons Love Tacos
Uh, can you tell that I like giving the stamp sets? They come in a great box, and I swear it does not matter if a child is 3 or 7 or is a boy or a girl; stamps are a hit. I usually stack a book with another book or a small non-book gift, like UNO or a paper pad and these cool crayons.
Step 2: It all comes in the mail, Toys R Us lines be damned, and then I take a night and dub it “Chill with some snacks and watch a movie and wrap some gifts” night. (Name in progress.) On a night that Jack is working late, I tuck the girls into bed, pop in a movie, and wrap all of the gifts at once. I keep a stock of brown kraft paper, because you can do so many things with it – draw on it, write the recipient’s name, stamp patterns on to it, let your kids color all over it, etc.
I like wrapping gifts, actually. It’s probably the only Pinterest-y thing I can get into, besides eating everyone’s Oreo truffles. However, little kids are not impressed by my folding techniques or calligraphy skillz. A preschooler’s just like “Why did you wrap my gift with a grocery store bag? Are you poor?” JK they don’t say that, but I’ll always snag a couple of rolls of kid friendly wrapping paper at a decent price, because kids are more enthralled with store bought wrapping paper of dinosaurs eating trees than they are a hand painted bicycle with a basket and a baguette in the basket on brown paper, you feel me? The girls are in charge of creating a birthday card via crayons and construction paper.
I label each gift with a sticky note so I know what’s inside, put all of the gifts in a bin in a closet, and when a birthday party arrives, I’m all chill and no one has to see me speed race a shopping cart full of children down the toy aisles or eat my emotions via birthday cupcakes. (Yellow cake + chocolate frosting all day. CARROT CAKE IS NOT CAKE.)