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My son just turned one and I have to admit...the things I liked most...were the clothes that would fit in a month or two. HOWEVER...his favorite toys were hammers, play baseball bats and even a cheesy golf set. There is nothing sacred in my house anymore because his favorite hobby is to bash the damn "clubs" into everything. He LOVES hammers and actually...he was also given a baby doll (hehe his dad flipped) and he is ever so sweet to it...hehe I'm assuming if the prices aren't too different...you usually can get a damn decent gift for about $25 thats fisher price or such. Those ages of children...the gifts are more to impress the parents rather than the kids (you know its true!!).

I'll be honest...the conversation topics vary by what kind of people are invited. I'm sure if kids around the same age are there as the birthday children...the topics will be about milestones...long missed days of carefree-ness...then they'll look over at you and see your G&D twins and want to know every detail. Who can resist Adam's suprised blue eyes and Kate's sweet calm? I'm sure they'll end up fighting more than the children so they can hold your sweet babes. ;-)

Take care and I'm so glad you had such a lovely outing with Marko. Once again, happy Anniversary and many more to come. Your description of how you both sat down and looked at the changes...it was beautifully written. Ya'll are such a wonderful couple.

Take care...Blondie

A mom of twins should surely feel your budget woes herself. The mom of a singleton, maybe not so much.

At that age, I'd be buying a book that I loved as a child - one for each of them. And I'd make it a tad offbeat - so as to avoid having them be the 14th copy of said book for the child.

If it is offbeat enough, then I'd write a simple note in the inside. (Because i wouldn't be concerned that a return was in store for the book.) Those became treasures for me as a young adult and even now in my haggard state. To open a book and see a note from my past, well, it simply warms my heart.

If books are tough to place right now - meaning too much mental energy to be "thoughtful" - then I'd get them a simply piece of clothing that would be helpful when mum reaches for a standard and discovers it no longer fits. Otherwise, a developmental toy of some kind. Blocks for stacking, etc. Again not too expensive, and something that is going to be used, not stored in a closet indefinitely.

These are one year old children, not a five year old who will brand you one way or another.

I'm happy to share a few book titles if nothing comes to mind darlingist.


For one year olds I think the presents are mostly for the parents as they don't need much, so get something simple, or give up completely and get something that the parents will like baby bath stuff, bibs etc.. I usually go with the book idea but that works best when you're buying for eldest children - second and third children usually have all the best books already. At one they are usually at the right age for a doll and those can be quite inexpensive - just the little soft bodied ones not the singing/crying nonsense. Blocks are great too and don't cost much. Have fun!

At the kids' fourth birthday, I think quite a few of the parents were talking about jobs, etc., but yes, it does tend to bring out a certain amount of the child-talk that the child-free people hate. Sort of depends on the group, but you know, kids keep dividing your attention.

We don't tend to offer wine before dinner so can't imagine that, although I suppose there's the champagne/mimosa idea for the noon hour. Probably too uptight, because there would be beer if it were an outdoor BBQ. Hmmmm.

Most folks around here seem to spend $5-10 on a gift, and you can get quite a lot of play-doh or craft supplies for that amount. Those are the BDay gifts extraordinaire for the 3+ set because they get used up, are in huge demand, etc. For one-year olds? Eh, I'm so jaded now, I'd just get a book, because a cheap toy seems to useless. But it's true, those itty-bitty 6" floppy babies are perennial favorites and not so expensive at US stores.

For Bdays, if I'm not giving crafts, I try to shop the specialty toy shops intead of the big-box stores. Don't know how that translates in the RSA.

First, I'd call the mother and ask what they need, if she can't think of anything offhand, have her call you back. Mom always knows what the little ones need, right? And if you think about it, everyone is going to be getting stuff for the children, and it's moms 1 year birthday too. She's been taking care of those babies for one whole year, maybe she needs the present more than they do. Perhaps a half day "loan" of your nanny/sitter, on a day you know you can get some help from someone else? Or something you know helps you relax after a long day of baby raising. One year olds are incredibly happy with the silliest of things, and I usually stick to a budget of 20-30 dollars, but I've never bought for twins, so that may lower my budget a bit. The peek-a-blocks stuff, that stuff grows with the child, I have the wagon for my baby, and my 3 and 7 year old play with this thing all the time, so it has many years of use ahead.

I'd tell you to keep the gifts simple. If you want, you can buy them clothes they will fit into in a couple of months (espeically for the twins), but for toys, don't do anything expensive at all. Big, chunky cars they can push or simple musical instruments are great. I wouldn't spend a lot, though. A one-year old doesn't know the difference between the $6 car and the $25 car. Mom might, but if the child plays with it all the time, she won't care in the end.

And I'd recommend bringing your own wine to share. That's the most thoughtful birthday gift of all!

Just get them lots and lots of bubbles or roll-on soap. And bring your own wine. Preferably in a Nalgene/sports bottle as a disguise.

Last year, my older son was invited to TWENTY-SIX birthday parties - yep, that's an average of one every other week. I just about DIED financially. My solution? The gift closet - I stock up on clearance items that my son loves (right now, Star Wars stuff, board games, Spiderman things, videos and DVDs) and even manage to find a few girly things on big clearance and then dole them out at parties. I also pick up coloring books, crayons, markers, paints, scissors, etc when they are on sale to make into gift packages when my others run low. But, stash those ideas away for a few years unless it is an older child's birthday you are invited to.

When we had our first birthday, some of his favorite gifts were kiddie soaps, sippy cups, kiddie dinnerware, big bouncy balls, and (we still have this one) a tunnel. I RARELY spend over $10 (American) on a gift to a friend's party, unless that friend is someone v v special to my son (now, not at 1) or to my family. Usually, I can get a pretty decent clearance gift for under $5.

DH just stepped in and read through this - he said his favorite gift for our son when he was little was playdough because *I* was the one that had to clean it all up! Shame on him!

I completely understand. As soon as I had my daughter, the parties began. While they are fun, even for her now that she is nearing 3, they can get expensive. I usually buy an inexpensive gift unless the child is a VERY close friend. Our very good friends have 2 children who are less than 2 years apart. I usually buy a small gift for the child whose birthday it isn't, just to alleviate any jealousy. Last year, I bought their son this elaborate tent/tunnel thing, probably in the $30 range. For the daughter (not her birthday) I grabbed a candy lipstick and necklace set from the dollar store. He cried because his sister got a better gift. I swear, it just proves my theory that kids enjoy the least expensive toys the most. I frequent the dollar store!

This is why we write those three little words at the bottom of the invitations to El Chico's parties:
No gifts, please.

We want people to come and enjoy the party, not feel they have to find exactly the right present, something he doesn't already have, something that isn't too cheap or expensive, etc. Some people do bring gifts, but I don't feel bad about that (defying written instructions!). I'm glad not to have the huge gift avalanche (he gets enough from us and his grandparents anyway). And it cuts down on the number of thank-you notes I have to write.

I also second the rec for books, unless you want to get something like a big bag of MegaBlocks (Duplo blocks) or a ball tower. At 1 the kids won't care that they have to share a gift, and it'll be something they can both play with.

If it's a weekend party to which all different age groups are invited, they ought to have wine (IMO). If it's a party for the kids with parents just there are chauffeurs/chaperones, then it's usually all just kid stuff.

"Perhaps a half day "loan" of your nanny/sitter"
Dawna, that's a good idea! I want that!!

I once asked this of a mother and she said her 1 year loved to pull tissues out of a box. So, that's what I bought - 3 boxes of tissues for her 1 year old birthday (her Mom, a good friend, was pleased). I've also bought chalk, fun soaps and kitchen utentsils because the little ones usually love to have their own drawer in the kitchen. I avoid anything that is in the childrens toy isle. I have found with my 11 month year old son that if it says Fisher Price, he won't play with it. But, a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom is loads of fun or taking cupcake papers (about 100 that all stick together) out of a box is an amazing treat. I would think you could also put experiments together like baking soda and vinegar with a bowl - mix together with a 5 year old to make a magic potion - they love it. Good luck, I'm sure that there are very material parents but as a child, I remember the interactive experiments I did with my parents opposed to the store bought presents. Guess you could ax the kids present (they most likely get too many) and take a bottle of wine for the adults. 8)

it's definitely proper etiquette (sp?) to ask. Anyone know of a good phrase? For older kids, you say "What would the birthday girl like for presents?" What do you say for babies?

I'm a fan of "no gifts." But, I've found it doesn't really work for older kids, 'cause 1) the kids want the gifts 2) the guests want to get the gifts -- i.e. they want something they got their friend to be in their friends house 3) the guests feel left out if someone brought a gift, even if most people don't (and who wants to deal with a left out 4 year old -- I can tell you, no one).


I think the earlier poster said it - bubbles. Zach loves them (14 months old), and I think we paid $1.60 for a six-pack and just give him one a month. Maybe to make it fun, you could get 12 little bottles and label them with the months so it's a little personalized, too? Of course, I don't know if they sell that kind of stuff in SA.

Otherwise I stick to the $10-15 range.


Forgot to add earlier that I second (third, fourth...however many now!) the book idea. And, our Dollar store has some GREAT ones lately for babies - bathtub books, lift the flap books. My older son has a library of TONS of books now, some are inscribed on the inside front cover, some not.

Gee, you would think with all the reading I do around here for my boys that I could have at least remembered that! HA!

I think you should bring wine.

My bro and his wife had their first kid while living in a neighborhood of mostly gay men (one of the couples is their best friends, so they bought a house near them). For my nephew's birthday parties and baptism several of the gifts he got from neighborhood friends were v. good bottles of wine.

And, when you think about it--what a great gift for a kid! It can make mom and dad happy for an evening, or it could be safely shelved for a great grad party someday. Or, if it is one of those bottles that will rise in value, it could be sold for tuition. Toys will be in the trashbin and gone in a few years, but wine is the gift that keeps on giving.

That said, I usually give good classic picture books to kids. Or art supplies.

No stuffed animals and dolls--most kids I know end up with SO many of them that they lose meaning (although you will never forget who gave that one special doll/bear that becomes a child's constant companion.)

Also, my one-year old niece is crazy for any toy that makes noise--especially tooting/rumbling car/truck sounds.

The gift closet is a great thing--I always pick up stuff at clearance sales for kid gifts. Yesterday I bought this on sale for $8 at a nearby store, and will give it to a child I know for her summer birthday:

Let me throw this out into the wilds. I'm on many china adoption email lists. One mom said that for their parties they asked each guest to bring food or clothes for the battered women's shelter. After the party the kids had a blast taking the gifts down to the shelter and getting the appreciation.

Before I had kids I thought this was the silliest, most stupid idea EVAH!!

Now..the kids are 4 and 6 and the veterans of zillions of parties...where the birthday kid, in sugar high, thoughtlessly rips through gift after gift without even saying thank you..and the parents haul home a pile of junk to an already overcrowded playroom..I am starting to think that it's a damn good idea..

I don't know if that link worked. The thing was the "Teatro Olivia," a toy cardboard theater that is the size of a big phonebook when folded, that has fold-out heavy board walls and floor that pop out and down, and a drawer with paper dolls/actors and paper backdrops. It was $25 at christmas time, $8 is a good price at closeout. I'll give it to a dancer/drama-queen 6 year old I know.

(Tertia--I don't post much--usually there is so much to read I don't have time to post when I am done with the reading. But I keep reading, and am thinking of you! Hope the b-day parties will be fun.)

I buy gifts in advance, have a gift shelf in the closet, usually scouring the sales racks at stores like Barnes & Noble or The Children's Place for kids. Buying in advance makes getting 'yet another' invitation less stressful, esp w/you going back to work.

(As an example of how I run this single mom home operation, my son, last summer, aged 6, finally ran out of the 6 years of staged by age swimming trucks I'd bought for about $1-2 each in the last month of my pregnancy w/him. I plan ahead on the cheap. With a bargain that stores easily, I REALLY tend to buy in advance. Now his closet is stocked w/swimming trunks, 2 each year, through age 16. He's not a fashion hog, could care less what I pick out for him. And if I make a miss, it is usually less than $5 loss - and maybe I could use it for a birthday present!)

I always give quality gifts for less. I think a $5 gift is cheap, but that's me - unless I spent $5 on a $10-20 gift, which isn't unusual for books, clothes, or toys I find. If I have to flat out buy something, I am for the $10-15 range.

You might base a whole post on this one day, but I've always had moms ask that stuff for siblings (or even free toys at McDonald's) match. Exactly. It elmininates the competition and makes life easier. (Don't know if that applies for different sex twins?) This might apply to gifts of twins aged 2 and up, but not the little ones you're visiting.

Kids of that age really want to make a difference in the world, so things that move, spring open, or pull/push when they walk are very popular. Also, them wanting to sort is coming up, so sorting toys are also age appropriate. One thing to look for are water play toys, things that you pour water through to make the mill things turn. My son, even at 7.5, loves to play in the sink. (Hint for you in the future - water play is the best and the bathroom sink works very well.)

Eschew the standard plastic items that drive the parents wild, and buy books. Kids can NEVER have too many. Buy books for reading to the child(ren), keepers, rather than board books which only get chewed. Write a dedication inside each one for each child. All the plastic stuff gets chucked away within 5 years, the classics stay forever.

When I am being a good Godmother and remembering their birthdays I usually go for books. I love books and reading and I do think it's something they can keep and cherish for years (and even pass down to their own kids one day).

And Tyger Valley books (in Tyger Valley centre of course) are not that expensive and have some really nice books for kids.

And I never spend more than 10 pounds per child, even for much older kids, unless I actually *love* the child (ie very best friends' kids, nieces/nephews). Don't know what that means in Rand versus standard of living (nice loaf of nice granary bread here is 1.30 pounds or so, litre of organic milk about 50 pence)

One year olds...
Plastic Animals (that can be used on an animal farm), you could get a few and they aren't that expensive. Get's their little imaginations going.
Books are always good.
Balls, little kids love balls. Can you get those funny shaped bouncy balls, that don't bounce the way you expect? Maybe not for a one year old, but in the future.
Hats? Cool kids hats are hard to come by here (Australia).
A savings account with a deposit in, something they will love in 20 years time and everyone can add to it.
Dress up clothes for the future.
Bath toys.
Book stands, the things that sit on the shelves to keep the books standing up?
Paints and brushes, and maybe some bright coloured paper.

Please, please take two separate cards and gifts for the twins though! They're two different people, Im sure you know this already, so I am probably just stating the obvious for you ;p

Im not a twin, but my step sister and I have birthdays next to each other and we used to only get one pressie from some people, the worst bit was as I was the eldest she always GOT IT. We're not even the same age- she's a year younger than me!!

If you like the parents you get something heartfelt and fun or useful - it doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, the only 1 year old gift I can remember anyone giving my kids was a super cheap plastic truck that was tied to the ribbon on some other package as an extra decoration. He loved that cheap little car and I still have it (he's 19!). I haven't faintest idea what anyone gave my kids for their birthdays and I really didn't have expectations of what anyone should bring. In fact, I always felt a little guilty about having the parties but that's just what people do.

If you don't like parents be sure to bring the kids drums, those push popper toys or maybe some finger paints.

I tend to stick in the $10-$15 range, maybe $20 if it's for a child of a very close friend. But it need not be even that expensive to be a great gift. My kids' favorites were things like wooden blocks, or the big Duplo things, stuff they could use to build with. I tend to shy away from electronic toys at this age, they annoy the parents and don't really do much for the kids developmentally, IMO.

1) Gifts. Don't stress too much because the cold, hard truth is that they won't remember who got what for whom in about a week or two. I agree with the book suggestion.

2) Kid talk. There won't be talk of anything else. Don't even try. Your best hope is to find the person without kids that's there because they are obligated through blood or close friendship becaue trust me they are dying to talk about something else.

Don't stress about the gift, especially for a baby. They like opening the gift as much as what's inside.

Re: Lame ass parties, I decided to serve beer at Stinker's 3rd birthday, and all the parents thought I was the coolest. I figured it was a party for kids and grownups, so why just serve kid stuff? I also provided snacks that were good for adults and kids. Next year I'm going to do a build your own cocktail activity for the adults or something equally fun. Maybe Pin the Tail on Michael Jackson.

Uh T, we ALWAYS have a big old tub of booze at my kids' b-day parties. And we never talk about kids, we atand around and chat about everything else. Really, our kids' parties are just an excuse for us adults to get together and hang out. WE LOVE it! Throw a "cool" party for yout kiddos when they turn one and invite all these mom and dad blobs. They will learn how to throw a cool party from you.

As for gifts, I go for something simple and timeless such as blocks, art supplies or dress up clothes.

My all time favorites are consumables...those things that your kids enjoy AND use up in the process. I usually spend between $10-20 if only 1 of my children was invited, but if both were invited then I usually spend $20-30. I like to put together a collection of little stuff. Here are some examples:

Bath stuff: bubble baths, bath tub paints/crayons, foam makers, tub dyes, and maybe a cool big kid bath towel or something.
Art supplies: paints (water, finger, poster, etc.), markers, special paper, stickers, glitter glue, etc (craft stores have some really cool stuff)
Outdoor stuff: bubbles and bubble blowing kits, sidewalk chalk, etc.

A somewhat budget-minded friend of mine always gives a book, age-appropriate. Now that I'm sometimes responsible for acquiring birthday gifts my 5-year-old step-son takes to parties, I have adopted her approach. Not so much because of the money, but because I'm a huge book-lover, and reading early and often is a great way to boost a child's learning and intellect.

I have twins who are 7 and B-Day parties ARE expensive. They go on average to a party twice a month. Each take a gift priced around $10-12 each, (very important to them to each take a gift.) Craft supplies are great, books, bath toys..

for one year olds i usually buy:
board books (here they can be had for 5-7 dollars)
bubbles with a cool wand
balls with neat textures, bumpy or really big, etc
basically though i always give books--i am an expert present buyer, especially when it comes to books;) sometimes for older kids i give craft kits or art supplies--but i am such a huge believer in books. and books for one year olds can be really funky--bath books, busy books, quiet books, texutured books, lift the flap books--all kinds of fun.

Depends on how much I like the parents. If I like the parents, books or bathtub toys for one-year-olds. If I am not so crazy about the parents, I get noisemaking toys the kids will adore and the parents will loathe. There are privileges to being a 'maiden auntie' after all. Seriously, with little kids, you know pretty much everything (except books hopefully) is going into the bathtub eventually, so I use that as a guideline. Nothing that would cause a lethal shock when tossed in.

I am all for books. The favourite for my kids was "Fox in Socks" by Dr. Suess. Try reading that after you've had a few glasses of wine. It would be an hilarious game for the adults! http://www.swampfox.demon.co.uk/utlah/Humour/Hairballs/foxsocks.html

I have always given out CDs. Susan Hammond has a series of CLassical Kids CDs that my brother introduced my daughter to, 12 or so years ago. Her favourite at 20 is still "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery". My son and I share the same favourite of "Beethoven Lives Upstairs". I have given these to everyone, my nieces & nephews, all my children's friends, the school library, the high school library, my kids favourite teachers... As you can see, I am very impressed with them. If you would like to receive them for the kids, send me an e-mail. Here is more information: http://www.pement.net/classicalkids/?page=susan_hammond

I usually spend $10-$20. Also, I never buy birthday cards to go with the gift. They can be quite expensive (although Hallmark has the line of $0.99 cards now) so instead I have the kids make a card. I keep card stock and stickers from the craft store on hand. It also adds a personal touch.

Agree with keeping costs down -- and books or craft/art supplies. Set an example with your own parties -- wine and perhaps donations instead of gifts. I didn't grow up with much, and while other kids had elaborate parties and gifts (although things had not gotten so out of hand when I was a child), my birthday parties were the favorites. We sat around a fire roasting marshmallows while my father told ghost stories (the timing is around Halloween -- All Hallows). Simple food and games and no presents, but lots of fun.

P.S. the above is for older kids. For 1-year-olds perhaps a book. I don't know if you're a crafty type but the biggest hit I ever had with a gift was a feltboard with cut-out shapes of animals, people, clothes, plants, etc. to stick on it that I made myself. You can buy these but the sets of shapes are rather pricey. Squares of felt in many colors, however, are cheapo over here. Toddlers and even older babes lurve to play with these.

We had a birthday party for the boy yesterday. Served lots and lots of wine. And beer. I believe a few martinis were quaffed. Very little kid talk; I believe conversation ranged mainly from "Yum" (Grandma's brownies) to "I can't believe he said that" (Bush). Will invite you next time. And no gifts, please--our boy (an only child/grandchild/nephew) is spoiled enough already by his family.

Anyway: I'll chime in with everyone else who's recommended books. It seems as though get too many toys and clothes for gifts and not enough books, which can be had cheaply and are loved for a long time. I love it when people give my boy books!

Glad you had such a nice night out! You deserve it! I'm jealous!!

I like Little People by Fisher Price and they range from about $5 up. They are all mix and match and my kids love them!

I have to say, there is always wine at our house no matter what, - I have only been to one birthday party where there was booze, we were a little stunned to tell you the truth! In fact, now that I think about it, there was no food either, except what we brought, - the bewildered guests fell on that and it was polished off in a matter of seconds! I brought wine but even I draw the line at helping myself so, no wine either!!

I really should learn to read before posting, - one more try !!

Glad you had such a nice night out! You deserve it! I'm jealous!!

I like Little People by Fisher Price and they range from about $5 up. They are all mix and match and my kids love them!

I have to say, there is always wine at our house no matter what, - I have only been to one birthday party where there was no drink, we were a little stunned to tell you the truth but maybe that's just us! In fact, now that I think about it, there was no food either, except what we brought, - the bewildered guests fell on that and it was polished off in a matter of seconds! I brought wine but even I draw the line at helping myself so, no wine either!!

I love the idea about books, though it is probably a good idea to check with the child's mom to make sure he/she doesn't already have the volume you are meaning to bring (who, after all, really needs 3 copies of "Green Eggs and Ham"?).

My in-laws always throw big bashes for their kids (one is 5 the other is almost 3). I really think that for kids this young, the party is as much for the parents as the children. For my in-laws, I think it is kind of a contest to see who can give the most lavish party.

I don't buy into that kind of crap. For my son's 2nd birthday, it was cake, a candle to blow out and 'Happy Birthday' at home after dinner.

...and a glass of wine for mom...

Another gift idea is Audio Books. My kids (9 and 7 now) have loved them from being tiny. We started off with lullaby's and songs, we've progressed through Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine. Now we're into Harry Potter, Horrod Henry, Just William and anything by Roald Dahl. My kids listen to them every night and they're always pretty keen on going to bed to hear the nexrt instalment.

I'm exceedingly cheap and plan to avoid all children's birthday parties if I can help it!

When I was four, I got a pair of kids' scissors, a roll of scotch tape, and a bottle of Elmer's glue for my birthday. Also, I think four play-dohs. I remember those presents to this day. Before that, I had to "borrow" craft supplies from my mother or share with my sister--now I had my very own! It was fantastic. I was delighted with the gift. Other gifts that I enjoyed at a young age were stickers.

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