How would you like to give great children’s gifts without spending a lot? Ever since I realized how many birthday parties there are to attend each year when you have kids, I knew I had to figure out a more affordable way! Spending $15-$25 on a birthday gift adds up! In just a nine day span this month, we have gone to five birthday parties (these don’t even include my own son). November is certainly one of those months with extra birthdays…maybe Valentine’s Day has a little to do with it :). If I would have gone to the store and picked out a gift for each of these parties, I would have easily spent around $100. That just isn’t feasible for us, especially before Christmas. As I am a thrifty and budget minded mom, I have had to come up with a good method for buying affordable gifts for all of these sweet little friends, so that we can enjoy going to birthday parties without feeling budget pressures (as much).
My solution is the store in my closet. The concept is to buy items on clearance or a great sale and to keep them for later. I tend to buy brand names to best accomplish this because almost every family loves some sort of Disney character. As a teacher I love to give educational gifts too. My supply is out of those at the moment because it’s time to stock up, but we tend to have lots of Melissa and Doug items or some of my favorite children’s books as well.
I keep all of these great items in my “top secret” closet shelf. It’s the shelf that is 18 inches from my closet ceiling, where little eyes have a hard time figuring out what is up there (because I am usually too lazy to fully hide them). Whenever a birthday party is coming up, I let my daughter or son choose from a few that I have pulled down. They love shopping from my closet, and I love that all the gifts we have were bought on huge markdowns. Here are some of the items I bought when I saw them on a great sale/clearance.
Princess dress up shoes
Woody plush and Toy Story figurines
Minnie Mouse plush and headband
Cars crocs and Buzz Lightyear helmet (both for my son’s upcoming day)
Other items that have lived in my closet (and bought at a fraction of the price) have been collector’s edition Disney dolls, a tea set, magnetic puzzles, felt food sets, velcro food sets, pattern blocks, costumes, popular children’s books, and lots Disney stuffed animals.
The best time to shop for these deals is during the end of season clearance specials or big sales such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Granted, I usually spend a good $80-$100 at once, but it is worth it! I especially love buying from the Disney store around the holidays. Their prices are already lower than the stores that carry them, and with the added sale, it makes for some great deals! Plus free shipping when you spend $75. Most of the gifts I bought last year averaged to be $10, which is definitely doable for a great gift (and everyone thought I was just extra generous). My secret is out now!
Department stores can also be a great source of fantastic deals. I found a great sale at Kohls on Melissa and Doug items, so we had many of those to give away. They were 40-50% off (it’s been awhile so I can’t remember which of those it was exactly). I sure stocked up though, and I used them up in about two years time. Sometimes Amazon has Melissa and Doug products for 50% off during a Deal of the Day. I usually jump on those! My other secret for Melissa and Doug products is to buy them from Michael’s (a U.S. craft store) with a coupon. They have a lot to choose from.
Since I have a Scholastic account, I also get some extra Scholastic books to keep on hand. I love giving books as gifts! So when your child’s teacher sends those out, don’t be quick to throw them away. There are some GOOD deals in them. Your child’s class also gets free books when you purchase, so it’s win win for both.
I always have lots of shoes and clothes as well in my top secret stash since I give those to my own kids as gifts. Yes, I am that mom. They LOVE getting new toothbrushes even! The joys of being 3 and 4 years old, and I am soaking it up while I can.
So since my Disney supply is good at the moment, here are some of the brands that I am keeping an eye on for great sales over the holidays this year:
Melissa and Doug
I will be keeping tabs on great sales this holiday season with these ones specifically (as well as others such as Disney) and posting them on our facebook page, so be sure that you have liked Preschool Inspirations to stay in the loop to build up your own store!
Now go be the hero of the birthday party…for a fraction of the price!