Kids' Birthday Party Gifts That Won't Break the Bank

Gift Ideas for All Types of Friends

A picture of a child with birthday presents
David Woolley / Getty Images

How much to spend on birthday presents for your child's friends is a common question parents have. You don't want to appear too cheap or like you don't care about the birthday boy or girl but you don't want to dip into your child's college fund every time a party invitation arrives in your mailbox. From those children you barely know to your child's BFF, find the best kids' birthday presents when you're on a tight budget.

As every parent knows, kids' birthday party gifts can quickly drain your wallet. Any time your child attends a party, you feel obligated to send along a present. Parents hosting parties are cutting party costs so you can cut party gift costs too based on how close your child is to the birthday boy or girl. Put your child's relationship with the birthday boy or girl to the test before hitting the toy store.


It never fails. Your kids meet a new playmate on the playground and your child is instantly invited to this new pal's birthday party. Or, you'll receive a party invitation from a kid down the street your child only sees a couple of times a year. Now you've got a handful of acquaintances your child barely knows that you have to buy presents for and your piggy bank wasn't expecting that.

Spend very little on gifts for your child's acquaintances. Look for simple toys that are $5 or less. One option is to give homemade gifts you can make with your children. Another option is to bundle gifts you can find at dollar stores. Kids get excited over multiple gifts regardless of how much they actually cost.

Kids' birthday gift ideas for under $5:

  • Books
  • Card games
  • Stickers
  • Coloring books
  • Miniature dolls
  • Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars


Most classrooms have at least 10 students in them. If only half of them invite your child to a birthday party, that gives you at least 5 presents to buy. That is a fast way to drain your bank account.

Spend no more than $10 on your child's classmates. Lower that number if your child has more than 10 classmates or you could spend a small fortune over the course of a school year. And to avoid hurt feelings, stick to that budget for everyone in your child's class so one classmate doesn't receive a toy you clearly paid triple for than another child's in the same class.

Kids' birthday gift ideas for under $10:

  • Play-Doh sets
  • Kickball
  • Wooden puzzles
  • Travel games
  • Action figures


Friends can be broken into a couple of categories. There are the close friends your child sees often and the one or two friends he considers his "best" friends.

For friends your child plays with regularly in the neighborhood or in playgroup, etc., keep the spending to $15 or less. For close friends your child considers his best friends, spend around $20.

Kids' birthday gift ideas for under $15:

  • Remote control cars
  • Legos
  • CDs
  • Board games
  • Sports balls


Family members get the highest cap on spending. Up to $25 is a good guideline for a cousin's birthday party. You can fudge a little and go over on your budget if your children are fairly close with their cousins.

Only you can gauge how much you really want to spend on family members. How you decide can depend on a number of factors, such as how often you see them, how tightly-knit your family is, etc. Anywhere between $15 and $25 will give you plenty of gift options for family members.

Kids' birthday gift ideas for under $20:

  • Barbies
  • Thomas the Tank engines/cars
  • Wooden puzzles
  • Board games
  • DVDs

One final money-saving tip: Cut kids' birthday party gift prices by being a smart shopper. Look for buy one, get one free deals, deep discounts, and other special savings as you shop. Look for clearance items and Black Friday deals to stock up on birthday party gifts when there's a great deal so you can save the most money. And if the party invitation says, "No Gifts," don't feel obligated to get something anyway.