Thursday, December 13, 2007

Frugal Gifts for Kids

Kids can be the easiest or the hardest to buy for at times. Some parents tend to get their children everything they want making it hard on those of us who are not their parents, while other children receive simpler gifts and are happy to get anything at all. On this "Thrifty Thursday," I want to share with my idea for shopping frugally for the little and not so little ones. Basically, I like to do gift baskets for kids. This is easier than you might think.

WHERE TO SHOP:
  • The toy aisle in you local supermarket will have inexpensive toys and school supplies, but they do tend to cost more than I would pay in other places.
  • Superstores like Target and Wal-Mart are a good place to start. You can usually count on the quality of the items in these stores. Plus, they tend to have a wall of items in their toy departments that are $1 or less.
  • Surplus stores like Big Lots and Fred's also offer a great variety of items that you may not find elsewhere.
  • Dollar stores will help fill out the basket without putting you in the poorhouse.
  • You may even luck out at a thrift store. I know our Goodwill has begun receiving unopened items from Target.
**What's great is that many times, the small, inexpensive items you can find for gift baskets come in packets of several items, which works if you are buying for several kids. It's really great when you are shopping for several children in the same age range because then you can get great deals when you buy in bulk, even if it is only two items in a package for $1.50.

WHAT TO BUY: Think about the age and gender of the children for which you are shopping to select appropriate items to fill the baskets.
  • Children who are younger than 4 tend to be difficult to do a basket for because of choking hazards. Soft items like dolls and clothes work best. Yet, I think it is just as easy to find a single toy gift for this age range. These do not usually break the bank and this age range is not too picky about what they receive.
  • Ages 3-10 - Look in the toy section or at the party favors section of any of the above mentioned stores.
    • BOYS: cars or other vehicles, transformers, rubber super balls, army men, and anything that looks gross.
    • GIRLS: small dolls, doll clothes, hair accessories, tea set/cooking accessories, play jewelry, and anything pink.
    • BOTH: bubbles, play-dough, toy cell phones, crayons, small coloring books, puzzles, fidget games (like the ones with marble you roll around into holes or the ones with the numbers you side around to get in order), and arts and crafts.
  • Tween to teen: 11-17 - Look in the cosmestics/hygiene section of the stores, especially if they have a travel size section of the store where the small items are usually less than $1 (I like Target's travel section the best.)
    • BOYS: aftershave, cologne, Axe body sprays, chap stick, nail clippers, combs, small puzzle games (like above), anything electronic, candy, and snacky food.
    • GIRLS: matchbook emery boards, bath confetti, bath bombs, lip gloss/chap stick, nail files, bubble bath, body spray, lotions, nail polish, nail polish remover, powder, small travel hairbrushes, mirrors, hair accessories (cute pony tail holders, barrettes, or butterfly clips), and candy (esp. candy necklaces and ringpops)
HOW TO PACKAGE
  • Containers: You can either get the container first so you know the space you have to fill or get it last once you know how much you are putting in there.
    • For the younger age range, I try to find something with a handle so it is easier for them to carry around. Last year, I was able to find miniature buckets (that looked like the large 5 gallon buckets that everyone has in their garage/shed). I found these in white and simply used permanent markers in a variety of colors to write their names on the buckets.
    • This can work also for the older boys, but you might also find an inexpensive shave kit bag that will work.
    • Similarly, cosmetic bags are great for older girls. Both the cosmetic bags and shave kits can also be found in the travel section of stores. Small purses are also good for the older girls' baskets.
    • Christmas stockings are always an easy alternative for any age range.
  • To wrap these, I make sure to keep a large roll of clear cellophane in with my gift wrap and simply pull it up around these items with a fun and festive bow (lots of curling ribbon).
Shopping for and making these baskets is usually one of my favorite gift giving practices.

I find that for $5-10 you can make a great little basket for kids. I think thats a really awesome bargain. Frugal and festive, who knew?

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