ParentClick Santa Barbara

Birthday gift ideas


Giving something more than just toys…

Below are ideas shared by parents. We hope you will share you ideas and tips as well in our comment section.


  • A Zoo or Museum membership
  • Certificate for a series of classes. (ie: swim lessons, kids classes, dance, tennis, etc.)
  • A check towards a college savings account. If the child does not have an account, I download the form and complete it and include my check. Anyone can start an account with as little as $25.
  • Tickets to a show, or to a fun place like the zoo, put-put golf, or even a short train trip.


  • Bath tints (little tablets that color the bath water and you can make different colors like purple and orange) and Sponge creatures-come in a pack of 12 or so and they are sponge animals in gelatin capsules that your child can hold under water-then a creature emerges. Both are inexpensive and can be gifted together!
  • For children who love to unwrap gifts, wrap many small inexpensive gifts, or wrap each part of a gift that goes together. Have a treasure hunt around your living room to find all the pieces.
  • One of my favorite gifts is a gift card to any bookstore. The gift of reading is priceless and children love to be able to pick out a book they want to read! You can’t go wrong!
  • I purchased from the Old Navy website multiples of all of their costumes left. They were 50%+ off and so I had the idea to purchase hat boxes and fill them with one of each costume. I will give them as “dress-up boxes” to all the little girls who have birthdays coming up. Kids, boys and girls, love to dress up and pretend play!
  • Personalized anything; seeds; garden tools; special place settings; paper airplane; ornaments; handmade items; globe; science kit; post office kit; treasure box; sleeping bag; songs; coupons (foot rubs); charm for bracelet; fishing pole; bank account; antique; grant-a-wish; dress-up clothes; bandaids; and alarm clock.
  • The ultimate choice for a gift that will delight and inspire any child recipient is: miscellaneous dress up clothes. (of non specific type) boas, gloves, various hats, jackets, crowns, boots, scarves, ties, glasses, rainbow “”toe socks!,”” wigs, frills and western attire. Too often parents grab for a pre-made dress up costume and rob their children of the imaginative process! There are characters beyond tinkerbell, mickey mouse and cinderella! Kids like to imitate life and given choices, they would just as often dress up as a doctor, teacher or housewife!! !Large plastic storage container filled with costumes collected from garage sales (tutu, tap shoes, scarves, necklaces, fancy dresses, hats, western vest, sheriff’s badge, neck scarf and cowboy boots, mini tuxedo, magician’s cape, crown). Decorate the top of the box with their names and fancy stickers.
  • Puzzles, books & games.

DONATIONS & DONATING in lieu of gifts

  • Have a birthday party where guests bring books to donate to the hospital. You can choose any organization that is meaningful to you and find out what they need that you can provide. Make it known on the invites that this is where the gifts are intended – not for your child. Later, with your child you bring these items to the organization, and it is a very meaningful lesson learned.
  • Every year I donate books to my school’s library in memory of my grandmother. I am a 4th grade teacher at Brandon School. Not only is Mrs. Tuttle excited, but my students (both past and present) are tickled pink when they check one of my birthday books. More importantly, it is a wonderful gift for the entire community. -L. Herrera


  • Gift Hunt – Before the party, write clues leading to various locations in your home. For instance, “If it’s a gift that you want, it’s a gift that you’ll see . . . When you are looking behind the TV!” After the guests arrive, have an adult gather up the presents and hide them in the locations corresponding to each clue. When it’s time to open presents, hand the birthday child one clue at a time. As he finds each gift, have him open it on the spot.
  • Gift Pass – Have the guests sit in a circle with their gifts in their laps and the birthday child at the head. Going one-at-a-time around the circle, tell each guest to hand his or her present to the birthday child, who stops to open each one before taking another.
  • Musical Gifts – To make the circle strategy more festive, turn it into a game of “Musical Gifts.” Position an adult near a stereo so they can start and stop a song periodically. While the music is playing, have the children pass the presents slowly around the circle. When the music stops, the birthday child opens whichever present he’s holding. Continue play until all of the gifts have been opened.
January 30, 2015

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