7 Ways to Save on Birthday gifts

Too many Kid Parties, Ways to Save
7 ways I am saving money during Birthday Party Season.

Kids’ birthday parties are so fun… who doesn’t love cake, party decorations, and having fun with friends? Since Big has been attending preschool a few times a week, we have been invited to more birthday parties, which Big loves! But going to all these parties is really starting to add up.

Since June, we have been invited to at least 5 parties for friends we have met within the last few years, we also have family and family friend parties coming up too. I know this doesn’t seem like a lot, but I have seen the future of birthday parties to come. One of my best friends, Lisa, has two boys a few years older than Big and a tween daughter, I remember her telling me all about  the kid’s parties she has been attending almost every weekend, since the kids started school.

The biggest thing is to set a budget whatever you are comfortable with. I decided to set a limit of $20.00 all in, for the present, card, and gift wrap (sales tax included in my limit). So with 5 parties coming up that is already $100.00. How do you attend all of these parties, still give nice gifts, and not go broke? Here are some things I am trying to keep birthday gift spending in check.

*This post has affiliate links for products or services that I use and love. That means if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may or will earn a commission.  For more information, please see my policies *

7 Ways to Save on Kids’ Birthday Gifts

7 Ways to Save Money on Kids’ Birthday Gifts

No Gift: Easiest way to save money is not to bring a gift. If someone lists “No Gifts Please” on their invitation, listen and do not bring a gift. We will still make a card at home. Big has fun decorating cards for his friends. I am a rule follower at heart, so if you say no gift, no gift it is.  I do not feel bad about not bringing one, if that is what is listed on the invite and neither should you. Or if it is not in your budget to get a gift and that is fine too, make a card and invite your friend for a later play-date.

Reuse and Recycle

I know I am not the only one that saves gift bags, tissue paper and sometimes even wrapping paper. As long as the bag or wrapping paper are in good condition after the first opening, we keep it.  This can be a difficult task with a preschooler and toddler. I don’t stop them from ripping packages open with glee, but sometimes they surprise me and are gentle and I can still use the tissue and wrapping paper. I like reusing, it keeps these items out of the landfill for a little longer and saves me some money. So it is a win-win. I still have gift bags from my baby shower for Big, he is now 3.5 years old.

DIY Gift Wrap

Decorate your own gift bag
Big and Little had fun sticking the different colored dots on to the bag.

If you are like me you have a ton of scrapbook paper, stamps, punches, and other embellishments laying around. I don’t have a lot of time to scrapbook now-a-days, but the paper and stamps have come in handy to decorate bags I found at the dollar store. Lately, the dollar store in my area has two bags for a $1.00 so that is a pretty good deal. Or you can check out this great deal on plain gift bags. I have also made some gift tags that I will be using on all kid presents from now on.

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Stock up on Add-Ons

Target Dollar Spot
Fun and Educational Gift Add-Ons

Stock up on fun little things that can be great gift add-ons. Target’s Dollar Spot is my favorite place to look for these items. You can get a lot of bang for your buck. I also think these items have a good cost to quality.  I also love that lately these items are education or art related.  These items can be used on trips and in restaurants to keep the kiddos busy too.

Sales

If you know you have birthdays coming up and you find some great items on sale, it’s a good idea to stock up, if you can. Since Big has a December birthday and Little’s birthday is in January, I find that it is easier for me to shop for some of their birthday presents during the summer and early fall.  I can usually find some great deals. I have a box in our guest room that I save items for my boys and others we can give throughout the year to friends. If you have favorite stores to buy kid gifts, sign up for their e-mail lists so you can get extra coupons. I need to have my friend Lisa, write a guest post for me on how she finds deals, she is my go-to-gal when I have a question about coupons and deals.

Break Up Multiple Items

3 workbooks and 3 sets of crayons total $18.69/3= $6.23 per gift. I still have $13.77 to spend on another part of the gift and wrapping. I would probably see if I could find a Star Wars Shirt or socks and use a bag I decorated or one I already had.

Buying items that can be split up is one of my favorite ways to save some money. I have found some awesome book sets that was able to turn into 3 different gifts.  For example, I bought a box of 6 books, I think I paid $24.99+ tax for the box set at Costco.  Let’s say I paid $28.00 total split 3 ways that is $9.33 per gift, so I would still have some room in the budget to add something else. Recently, Big went to a party for twins, so the budget for this party was $40.00. I bought a pack of two water blasters for $9.99, two super hero big coloring books for $4.99 each, and I needed gift wrap $3.99, normally I would not buy gift wrap, but I was crunched for time. My total came to $26.35 (tax included) for gifts for two friends; I was under budget by $13.65, not too bad.

Re-gift

This one is kind of a dirty little secret. I think more people do it and do not admit it. So here I am laying it out there, judge if you want, you know you will probably do it someday too.  If we receive a duplicate gift, sometimes I will give it as a new gift. Many might think of this as a faux pas, but I figure if the item is still in the new packaging, the boys haven’t dented it and I make sure I am not giving it back to the person who gave it to us; I think it is ok.  Sometimes, I will return the duplicate gift and get a gift card to use for a later gift purchases.

Maybe you will try one of these tips or you might try them all,  hopefully they will help you save some money during the birthday party seasons.

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Cheers,

Amy

5 Favorite Summer Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

5 Fun Summer Activities for your Toddler and Preschooler

Longer days, BBQs and better weather. Summer is such a fun time, and there are so many activities for kids to do.  I have fond memories of running around outside, eating Otter pops and playing with my brother and sister. Now I have two busy little boys. Big is 3.5 years old and Little is 17 months old. Little has been walking since 11 months old, so he is trying really hard to keep up with Big, especially when we are outside. Now that summer is here, we get outside multiple times a day. Since we are getting outside so much,  I need to have lots of fun activities to keep these little guys busy. Here are the 5 activities that both boys gravitate to again and again and these things keep them entertained for 30 minutes to an hour. That is an eternity in toddler/preschooler time!!

*This post has affiliate links for products or services that I use and love. That means if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may or will earn a commission.  For more information, please see my policies *

5 of our Favorite Summer Activities

1. Water Play

We love the water and sand table, my mom and dad bought Big two years ago. It perfect height for preschoolers and toddlers, and my boys are on the taller side. It comes with an umbrella, two little boats, pots and bridges. We even used the table in garage for Big’s construction theme birthday filled with trucks and homemade moon sand. Here is the one we have, but I think a plastic bin could work perfectly too.

My mom also bought them some foam water blasters. They love these things!  They water flowers, squirt each other and me and have the best time counting down to blast off. Here is an option for a water blaster, but I also found some at Target and a craft store, so they are pretty easy to find.

The last water activity is one on our Summer Bucket List, Water Beads. I had never heard of  Water Beads, until I read a post written by one of the Mom bloggers I follow. On her site, Little Bit of Learning, Laura wrote a post about Amazing Sensory Activities Using Water Beads and I was hooked. They look like so much fun. We will be getting some beads for this summer. She also has a great post about Top 5  Water and Sensory Tables, if you are trying to decide which on might be a good fit for your kiddos.

Fun with our water table and water blasters

2. Push and Pull toys

They love anything you can push or pull around. Little loves to drag around a broom. Big did the same when he was Little’s age. I found the broom at Target.  I’ve also had great luck finding gently used outdoor toys on OfferUp. I bought a gently used John Deere Dump Truck and a Bubble Mower. Here are some similar ones,  dump truck comes with blocks and a driver  and Bubble Mower.

John Deere Truck and Bubble Mower

3. Bubbles

My boys love bubbles, we have quite a few bubble wands. The bubble wands are cheap and easy to find. The Bubble Mower is the best of both worlds! They both really love chasing the bubbles around. Really, what is more whimsical than a child chasing bubbles?

4. Chalk

I love sidewalk chalk since it is reasonably priced, you can find it pretty much anywhere and both boys love using it.  For Little, it helps with his fine motor skills.  For Big,  we are using it to teach letters, numbers and get some wiggles out. Check out My Summer Activities board, I have pinned some amazing chalk drawings examples.

 

 

5. Nature or Neighborhood Walk

We love going on walks and seeing what the boys notice. The other day Big was noticing all the numbers on the mail boxes. Big can make it on a 40-60 minute walk, but Little can’t make it that long. We have a wagon that we love for our neighborhood walks. I found a great wagon on OfferUp. It has cup holders and an umbrella. The wagon was a life-saver at the zoo! Here is a wagon, like the one we have.

For the nature walks, we use a baby pack, the wagon would not work very well on the bark trails in our neighborhood. The baby pack we have is made for hiking, it is really light weight, has tons of storage, and a  sunshade. It is on the expensive side, but it has been worth every penny. This is the newer model of the pack we have.

Walks made easy with a wagon or pack.

These are our basic summer activities, but if you are looking for activities for preschool to elementary ages  check out my blogger friend Amanda’s post on the Essentials for Summer Fun on her website, JasperandWillow .  She lists her favorite summer toys for the preschool to elementary aged kids. My favorite items on her list is the trampoline water park toy and the eco water balloons which she makes herself, so cool! She also has an awesome post about a  summer bucket list  with the whole family in mind.

Hopefully my list and the ideas of my blogging friends will give you some ideas fun activities to try this summer!

Cheers,

Amy

My Dad…a Role Model Dad

My Dad is a Role Model Dad
My dad is a role model dad! Here are 4 things he did that make him a role model.

With Father’s Day this Sunday, I have been thinking a lot about my dad, his parenting style and reminiscing about whimsical childhood memories…all the times my dad played with us, tossing us in the air, walking around the yard on his hands or all of us eating a whole box of kid cereal out of a mixing bowl. There is the  time my dad wore my mom’s fuzzy duck pajamas to make all us laugh. The times he spent volunteering in our class rooms, or at sporting events when all he wanted to do was sleep.  The time time I called him to help me when my car was on the fritz. The time he walked me down the aisle and the time I told him he would be a grandfather. I have so many fond, funny, and happy memories with my dad and I am lucky that my little boys will have a chance to get to know him. My dad is Awesome!!!

Role Model Dad
My Daddy and Me and our puppy Stormy. He didn’t always have facial hair, but needed to look at little older, plus it was the early 80’s.

This reflection was not sparked by the Father’s day holiday itself, but by a post I read. The post  I read was written by the husband of one of my new blogger friends, Caitlin of Rogers Party of Five.  Mr. RogersPartyofFive, himself,  wrote the   Anti-Father’s Day Gift Guide .  This post was a new perspective on father’s day gifts. His post highlighted the fact that many children and young people grew up or are now growing up without their fathers for a lot of reasons. I think we all know or knew a few people in that situation.  Rather than more stuff, today’s Dads might be looking for role models and support.

After reading this post, my heart was so conflicted; I was so sad since there are still so many children growing up with without their fathers, but exploding with love, pride and gratitude for the man who is my dad! Tears right now as I write this! I appreciated the resources listed and the organizations highlighted in the post. Mr. RogersPartyofFive also encourages us to do what we can to help others who might not have their dad around.

So in the spirit of the Anti-Father’s day gift, I will offer my dad as an excellent example of what a role model dad looks like and highlight 4 basic things my dad did to make me feel loved, valued, and respected. These 4 basic things do not require lots of time or lots of money.

4 Basic Things Fathers could offer their Children

 Note: My dad’s parenting style is one filled with humor and wit. My mom was the boss, so he was the funny man. In addition to my 4 basic things Fathers could do, I have included phrases my dad said and still says  to my brother, sister and me. These phrases embody who my dad is as a person and as a parent. All of these phrases are uttered with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes. The phrases here are used to spark my memories of things my dad does and not meant to be used word for word since we are all different people. While these phrases worked for my dad, they would not work for everyone. 

Encouragement

Think about how you can  help challenge and encourage a child to try their best and to try something new.  Take time to practice a sports skill with them, spend a few minutes to look at something they drew and talk about it, listen to them play an instrument, or play a board game together.

Big loves all vehicles, so my dad is showing him his tractor.

My Dad says “Drive Fast and Take Risks!”

Not meant to be taken literally! (unless you are in the fast lane, if you are in the fast lane, you should be movin’!).  I interpreted this phrase to get outside of my comfort zone and do things that challenge me. Try out for a sports team, take that class that sounds difficult, or do that study abroad and travel alone. Every time I challenged myself, whether I succeed or failed, I always learned something.

Love

Think about how you can give unconditional love and support to a child. Show them you are their safety net.

My Dad with his first grandchild.

My Dad says “It’s ok to fail; worst case, you just live at home with us.”

Whenever I began to doubt myself, he would have some variations of this one, “it’s ok to fail;  you can live with us forever”. I am lucky my parents follow the parenting philosophy that they are here to help and encourage us no matter how old we get. This phrase made me feel so loved, so safe, knowing that no matter what I did or what happened, there would always be love, support and a place for me with them if I needed it.  

Acknowledge each child’s individuality

Understand that each child is different and what works for one may not work for the others. Educate yourself about a child’s interests. Listen and ask questions to keep the conversation going. With access to a mini computer at our finger tips, learning more about any subject should be a breeze.

In terms of parenting tactics, what worked for me didn’t always work for my brother or sister.

My Dad says “You’re my favorite”

I am one of three and I know my dad said this to all of us. This says to me he understood that each one of us needed to feel valued and special in our own way. He would educate himself on our interests and would talk to us about them. My dad is really good at talking, but he is an excellent listener and asks really great questions too. His questions could help me think of my interests, or situation in a new way and see things that I didn’t see before.

Support

What can you give to help a child? Is it time, your knowledge, or funding to a resource that helps children?

Walking down the aisle, I was nervous, but we talked the  whole way.

My Dad says “What do you need?”

My dad always knows when to ask what do you need? He is very generous with his time, resources, and love. I know I can call my dad for anything. Just recently my sister called my dad to ask with her truck. She lives far away, so my dad spent several hours off and on trying to help her.  It’s not just his children who benefit from his generosity, other family members do too, do you need help moving, building something, or need a power tool? My dad is happy to lend you a tool and will even drop everything he is doing to come and help.

He is also kind and generous to complete strangers. I remember my mom telling me as a young adult about a time when we were little and she had to keep buying blankets. My dad would take them on his long truck routes, but he would fail to bring them back. Finally, my mom asked him, “where did all the blankets go?” . My dad answered, “I have been giving them to people who have been in accidents or stranded people on the pass to stay warm.” He was working and he could not stop for a long time, but he could give his blankets so that others could be comfortable while they waited for help. This is just one example of his generosity to strangers, there are many more.

Bottom line, with all these things it really doesn’t take  a lot and many Dads are probably already doing them and I am sure you are doing better than you think.

I asked my Dad what advice he would give to new dads, he said

“Be patient with your children, they are learning to be who they are. Be patient with yourself as you are learning how to guide them.”

“Learn from your children; they will teach you something new each day.” 

“Allow for more sensitivity. I wish I would have done this more, it is alright to be sensitive and to encourage sensitivity in your sons and daughters” 

So, to all the men who are serving as great role models to children, to my brother who is a new dad, to my husband who is the best daddy to my babies and most of all, to my Daddy, Happy Father’s Day!!!!

Cheers,

Amy

How to make your kids feel Love, Valued and Respected
4 Things my Dad did to make me feel Love, Valued and Respected