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How Much to Spend on Your Child’s Birthday Gift

If a child’s birthday is near, you may be wondering how much you should spend on their birthday gift. Below we’ve helped prep you the best we can by providing dollar amount suggestions for a variety of ages, buying considerations, and more. No need to worry about spending too little or too much!

Age of Child

Ages 1 to 3: $20

Children ages one to five are the easiest to shop for as they have no concept of dollar value. They usually don’t understand what a birthday is for the most part, either! Spend $20 max as this is the only age where your little ones are less likely to understand what’s going on. 

At this age, focus on a fun toy, stuffed animal, or book. Save some money and shop a sale too. Some of my kid’s favorite gifts at this age were from the dollar store!

Birthday parties can be cheap too. Get a cake or cupcakes from the grocery store and have a home party with one or two friends over. 

Best Gift Ideas

1-Year-Old Boys
1-Year-Old Girls
2-Year-Old Boys
2-Year-Old Girls
3-Year-Old Boys
3-Year-Old Girls

Ages 4 to 8: $30-$40

At four to eight, the party is more important than the present. Kids are still excited to receive a surprise gift, so try to keep a small present budget around $30 to $40 max. You may even consider a fun present like a playhouse or swing set, but only if it’s within the budget. 

Throw a themed party at a venue, if you can afford it, like at a trampoline park or skating rink. Another option would be to rent or purchase a bouncy castle in the backyard, but those can run around $200 or more. 

If you have a party at a venue, it will cost you a couple of hundred dollars, but by the time your child turns 12, they probably won’t want another venue party. Instead, they will opt for the mall!

Best Gift Ideas

4-Year-Old Boy
4-Year-Old Girl
5-Year-Old Boy
5-Year Old Girl
6-Year-Old Boy
6-Year-Old Girl
7-Year-Old Boy
7-Year-Old Girl
8-Year-Old Boy
8-Year-Old Girl

Ages 9 to 12: $50-$60

Presents start getting a little expensive at this age as kids are interested in pricier products. Budget around $50 to $60 for the present and around $200 to $300 for the party if you pick a venue. If your child wants an expensive gift like a Fire HD Tablet, then have a home party to save some dough. 

Kids may still want a venue party at this age, but they also understand money at this age too. If you can afford one but not the other, consider telling them to pick either a present or a party. This is a great way to compromise and teach children the value of money. 

Best Gift Ideas

9-Year-Old Boy
9-Year-Old Girl
10-Year-Old Boy
10-Year-Old Girl
11-Year-Old Boy
11-Year-Old Girl
12-Year-Old Boy
12-Year-Old Girl

Ages 13 to 15: $100

Younger teens may still want a party but they’ve probably aged out of theme parties at venues. Instead, they may prefer a few of their closest friends over for food and movies. Follow their lead at this age. 

As for presents, you will probably find they want more expensive gifts such as those in the electronic department. They may also want gift cards so they can purchase whatever they want. You may also consider purchasing something for their room as a teenager’s personality starts reflecting in their bedroom.

The budget is up to you, but many parents spend around $100 for the gift plus food and drinks for the house party. 

Best Gift Ideas

13-Year-Old Boy
13-Year-Old Girl
14-Year-Old Boy
14-Year-Old Girl
15-Year-Old Boy
15-Year-Old Girl

Ages 16 to 18: $200-$300

At these ages, teenagers like money. They want to buy their own presents as they love the idea of control and the excitement that “free” money offers. At this age, unless they ask for something specific, cash or a gift card is the best gift for your child’s birthday. 

Consider raising the gift budget at this age as many teens do not want a party. Girls will want to go to the mall with friends, while guys will want gifts or cash to spend with their friends. Older teens might even think ahead and want money to save for college or furnishings, but don’t get your hopes up. 

Keep your budget around $200 to $300 as you are only buying a gift and maybe taking them out for a nice dinner. Mind you, this is the age where kids will push hard for a new cellphone and not one of your hand-me-downs. They may even want a laptop or a game console if they don’t have one already. 

Best Gift Ideas

16-Year-Old Boy
16-Year-Old Girl
17-Year-Old Boy
17-Year-Old Girl

Buying Considerations

Your Budget

Before spending a dime, you need to consult with your checkbook. Your child’s birthday is not an opportunity to overspend and rack up your credit card. No matter what numbers are thrown around below, you need to stay within your budget. 

While your child deserves everything in the world, you can only give what you can afford. Before receiving a gift, they need a roof over their head, food on their plate, and clothes in the closet. 

Not to mention, the bills need to be paid so they can spend hours playing on the internet. If you can only afford to spend $20 on a present and $50 on a party, then that’s what you spend. Moreover, if you can only afford a home-cooked meal and a small gift, then that’s what you do. 

Your child will love you because you are your parents, not because you can buy them everything they want. 

Cost vs. Interest

Another point of interest is…well…interest! Not all gifts need to be expensive. Your child might have specifically asked for a specific video game

It’s so helpful when kids know exactly what they want and tell you because then you have a point of basis. No matter how inexpensive the present is if that’s what they asked for, get it. If your child is extremely clear about what they want for their birthday, then there’s your shopping list. You do not need to feel like you need to get multiple presents. One birthday, one present. 

However, if your child asks for something expensive like the latest iPhone, then you may need to reach a compromise. For example, you can ask relatives and friends to chip in, making the phone a gift from everyone (and the only gift they get).

Amount of Gifts 

Have you watched Harry Potter? If so, you remember in the first movie where Dudley (Harry’s cousin that Harry, unfortunately, lives with) received 36 presents, and it wasn’t enough. His parents planned to buy him two more while out at the zoo. Don’t be like Dudley’s parents, please. 

Get one or two presents for your child’s birthday no matter how old they are. Kids may think they want grandiose, but can you really afford to buy tons of presents? Save the multiple gifts for Christmas. 

Gifts From Others

Remember, you are probably not the only person buying your child a gift. More than likely, people will be calling you up to ask for gift ideas. Be vague unless your child has been specific about multiple items. 

Mention your child’s interests and likes so people can work within their budget. Instead of suggesting a craft kit from Hobby Lobby, tell them your child likes craft kits. Keep it open so they can surprise your child and not need to worry if they cannot afford something specific you mention. 

For younger kids, if others give them cash or gift cards, you may want to consider using them to buy for your child instead of allowing them free reign in a store. It’s easier and makes for better decisions, too, unless you are okay with a little chaos. 

Birthday Party Costs 

Gifts are not the only expense for a birthday; the party can charge up quite a bill too. The cake, balloons, napkins, gift bags, candles, decorations, paper plates, and the list goes on. 

If you have to stick to a tight budget, you need to figure out what is a must-have for a party and the price of a gift too. Home parties are definitely more affordable (especially if you shop at the dollar store) but take up a lot of time. Parties at a venue cost more, but they do all the work and supply everything. Plus, no clean-up!

It’s a lot easier at home to reduce costs and save more money for the present. Start saving some party money each month, so the party doesn’t cost you a fortune in a single month. 

The Ultimatum 

For those with a tight budget, consider giving your child the choice of either a party and a small gift or a big gift and no party. You can also alternate years. One year you give them a big gift and a dinner out, the next year throw a party and give them a small gift. This method makes life less stressful, especially if you have multiple children. 

When to Buy Birthday Presents

You do not have to wait until right before your child’s birthday to buy their present. If you find it on sale, grab it! Although, keep in mind that if you buy early, you won’t have time to return the present if it doesn’t work.

The same goes for Christmas. Get a plastic bin to put in your closet, and as you find gifts on sale, buy them and stick them in the bin. This is by far the most affordable way to shop, as you can buy a Nintendo Switch or something expensive when it’s on sale or when you have a coupon. 

Consider saving up over time for gifts too. If you bank at a place that provides points or rewards, you can save your points up for gifts too. Also, sell old stuff you or your kids don’t use anymore and save that money for gifts. 

FAQs – Children’s Birthday Gifts

How much should I spend on my child’s friend’s birthday? 

Most people budget between $20 and $30 for a gift for a child’s friend. Only take opinions, not directions, from your child as they do not know your budget. Trust us; your kids will have an opinion on what to get their friends. 

Don’t be surprised if your child promised their friend something ridiculous for their birthday too. Keep it simple and universal, like a craft kit or something most kids would love. 

Can I give my kid an experience instead of a present? 

Experiences are a great way to celebrate a child’s birthday. You can even take one or two of their friends. If your child has been begging to go to Six Flags or a sports game, make it their birthday present and give them the full experience. 

If you do choose to do so, be very clear with your child that this event is their present. Be clear about whether souvenirs and food are part of the experience to make the evening more enjoyable. 

What is a “fiver” birthday party? 

Fiver parties are a unique way to do a birthday party that makes it more affordable for everyone. All the guests simply bring five dollars and throw them in a bowl or container. This saves the guest from having to pick a gift and allows kids to save up for a big gift. 

Your gift can be covering the difference in case your child doesn’t get enough to get the item they are after. Also, this is a great way to help your child understand money too and learn about saving up for a big purchase. You can always change the amount to $10 if you think your guests will be able to afford more, or guests may think five is too little and just put in more if they want. 

Final Thoughts 

Birthdays for kids need to be fun and have a little surprise. However, you do not need to go broke. Make sure to create a budget that includes the celebration and the gift and stick to the allowed amount. 

Your kids will love what you get them, especially if you listen to them and what they want. Remind them birthdays about fun, family, and friends, not about money and expensive gifts. 

Adrina Palmer is a stay-at-home-mom to three wonderful children and a wife to an amazing husband. She has a bachelors degree in Religion from Liberty University and works as a blogger, copywriter, and reviewer. Adrina is a Christian hoping to help other stay-at-home moms find the joy and simplicity as a mother and wife. In her free time she enjoys many crafts, writing, spending time with family, and reading. She would love to hear from you!

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