Sarah Deveau: Money Matters


Birthday Gifts - Bah Humbug

Commit to Buying Expensive Gifts, or Decline the Invitations?

I’m fraught with indecision over what to buy for the birthday child when my daughters are invited to a birthday party.

Case in point. This week Justin Bieber t-shirts are just $5 at Wal-Mart. Since all of my eldest daughter’s friends are 'Bieberheads', I considered picking up a few of them for the next few parties. After all, I've always kept a gift closet with a few emergency gift items stashed away.

But it suddenly occurred to me - what if the parent wants to return them and discovers I spent just $5 on their child’s gift? I mean, it’s one thing to be cheap with your own kid, but an informal poll on Facebook showed that my circle of friends feel $15 - $20 on a gift is appropriate. So am I being a big cheapie by finding the best deals possible when shopping for the birthday boy or girl?

My kids get invited to a lot of birthday parties, sometimes three or four in one weekend. At the low side of $15 a gift, that might be $45 - $60 a weekend in gifts. In June we’ve been invited to six birthday parties already, and it’s still only May. At $20 a pop, I’m looking at a $120 hit for birthday presents.

That’s more than our monthly budget for clothing for our entire family. $120 would pay our cable bill, cover one child’s RESP contribution, pay for two recreational dance or sport classes, or pay for a week long day camp.

I'm leaning towards thinking a gift is just fine if I got a bargain on an awesome item, but not so great if I spend $3 on dollar store junk. The alternative is to start declining invitations because of the financial burden of gift giving.

What do you think?

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