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Mommy Dearest: Appropriate Amount to Spend on a Gift?

Mommy Dearest,

My daughter is in kindergarten and gets invited to lots of birthday parties.

Most of them have been held at a jumpy house, playground or the celebrant's home.

How much should I spend on presents?

— Price of Presents

To see Mommy Dearest's response,


Price of Presents.

I think the price of a present should be whatever you are comfortable giving and an amount that won't make other gift givers uncomfortable should the presents be opened at the party.

For example, don't buy a bike when everyone else bought puzzles. That said, my daughter is four-years-old and from the parties we've attended it looks like guests spend upwards of $10.

Since books, toys and art kits are sold at all price levels, there's no reason to spend a fortune. And, most kids are more occupied by the cake, ice cream and games than what's wrapped up in the boxes.

—Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.

maze1 maze1 9 years
I would spend no more than $20. Sometimes its easier to give the cash, especially if the child is aware about savings. For my niece, I brought her a funky money box and put $20 in it, and she was really happy. I have a family that prefers to give cash gifts, so it worked very well. Another option is to give a gift card from a toy/department store, so they can put it towards something they wanted but didn't get.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
For school friends, I generally stay between $10 and $20 - barring fab BOGO sales, etc... You don't want to buy cheap crap that nobody wants or will keep just to have a present out there. And you don't want to be ostentatious and buy something on the level of a family/close friend gift.
anniekim anniekim 9 years
there are a lot of variables, but I'd say in the $10-20 range. If you find something good for a cheaper price it's always okay to throw in some stickers or similar.
rgrl rgrl 9 years
I think it depends on how much you can afford and how well you know the people whose party you are attending.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
$10 is more than enough for 5 year old. It's more about the party than the presents anyway.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
i don't go by price so much as what i think the child will like (not spending more than $30). my 7 year old went to a party last weekend and i got a BOGO webkinz deal so her gift cost $8.50. it was what she wanted so i didn't feel cheap but i guess it sounds that way. another good gift (has been featured on here) is "the day you were born". you can get it at target for about $10 and kids LOVE it.
elephantheart elephantheart 9 years
I have always tried to keep the cost of presents between 10 and 20. for the girls' friends. if it's a present for a cousin or other close family member, I'm more focused on buying something specifically for the child in question, but I won't spend over say $35. on a kid's gift if it's not mine.
jessie jessie 9 years
5-10.00, that child is gonna get many other presents too.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
I spend about $15 and sometimes just get a $15 Target gift card. I don't want to be cheap but I don't want to make anyone feel weird by giving too much. Most of the time boys are getting bionicle or lego stuff which runs around $8 to $10. That seems to be appropriate for school friends and for family. I think more expensive gifts should be bought by parents or grandparents.
graterfinn graterfinn 9 years
i don't go with a price amount, really. most of the kids we know have everything they want, so we get books or some arts and craft supplies. this usually runs $10 - $15. now that my girls are 6, i let them pick choose presents, but i have ultimate veto power. they just recently painted pictures for a friend. and it was only $5!
nevadamtnbear nevadamtnbear 9 years
I think this is a difficult question to put into a one-size fits all response, because what one family can afford may not be appropriate for another. My personal rule of thumb is as follows: -casual friend: $10-$20 -friend: $20-$40 -good friend/family: $40+ But, my "ranges" may be too high for some and too low for others. I also tend to try to shop sales for gifts, that way I can maximize my buying power, though this isn't always possible or practical.
JennyJen2 JennyJen2 9 years
I struggle with this same question. You didn't really answer the question above. I know people spend upwards of 10 dollars - but what is an acceptable gift amount? Or is it dependent on where the party is held? Who the person is? Please help with this.
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
It seems like $20 is pretty standard for a school mate's birthday. For closer friends I spend a little more if I can.
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