Frugal Birthday Presents for My Son

My son recently celebrated his 7th birthday, so I thought I would share with you what we got him and how we kept his gifts within the budget.

He received:

-5 books,

-1 Lego 3 in 1 car

-Arts & craft supplies (construction paper, tape, glue, washable paint pens and pencils)

The total for these gifts was $16.34; the retail value is $59.28. 

How did we save 72% off retail?  We used several strategies.

-I have a number of old books that I list on Paperback Swap.  I have received credits for shipping out several of my old books, so I used some of these credits to get my son the 5 books for free.  I was delighted to see that every one of the books arrived in like new condition, and they should give my son some enjoyable time reading. 

-A few weekends ago, Babies ‘R Us was running a deal on Huggies diapers.  Buy two big boxes and get a $20 gift card.  I used the gift card the next day to buy my son’s Lego toy, so I got it for free.  (If I hadn’t run across this deal, I would have redeemed some of my Swagbucks to get the toy for free or at a discount.  Now, I get to save my Swagbucks for Christmas presents.)

So, all I had to pay for out of pocket was the school and craft supplies.  Honestly, I was kicking myself for not buying more school supplies last summer when they were so cheap.  Now that I know my son is enamored of all things school supply related, I will do a big stock up this summer when the prices are low and save some for the kids for Christmas and birthdays.  It really pained me to pay retail for the same items I know will be nearly free in just a few short weeks.

If you think the presents look skimpy, we have learned to go light on our kids’ presents because they have very generous grandparents.  My son also received a globe/geography electronic game, more books, $10 from other relatives, $100 from grandparents, and more arts and crafts supplies.

How much do you typically spend on your child for birthdays?  Do you try to find ways to cut corners?


  1. This year our son received 4 tickets to Six Flags. I won them through a local news show in a sweepstakes. He is 19 so we added a bit of gas money.. He was thrilled.

  2. Those are great gifts! 🙂 We used to spend WAY too much, but we’ve also cut back to a normal amount! lol! I’d like to keep our kids gifts from $30-50 each.

    • Melissa says:

      Yes, we used to buy too much. Well, it wasn’t too much, but then when it was combined with gifts from generous grandparents, it ended up being WAY too much.

  3. “If you think the presents look skimpy” – don’t doubt yourself, mama. Can you remember all of the gifts your received as a kid – or how many of them? I am sure your son was thrilled just to have your attention on his special day and the gifts are fabulous ones that can keep anyone busy for days/weeks. I would have loved that gift now (with a few upgrades of reading material haha). You did wonderful!

    • Melissa says:

      Thank you. I think it is hard to rein in the gift giving when this society is so materialistic. People can make you feel like a bad parent for not going all out. I remember that my birthdays were fairly simple events; my biggest present was a bike when I turned 8. My grandparents had around 40 grandkids, so they just gave each of us a $1 bill on our birthdays. I still have all of mine. 🙂

  4. We try to stay under 50 for presents, but I usually go way over board for the party.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I no longer buy presents, per say, for my kids’ birthdays. Instead, we began a new family tradition a few years ago of going on a one-on-one date. I am a single mom of nine and this has been the most wonderful idea for our family! They really look forward to it and plan all year in anticipation of their special day with Mom.

  6. Great gifts! I think you got him plenty…I don’t have kids but I guess I thought parents just give one (shows how much I know!).

  7. I’ve been buying for Christmas and birthday at garage sales and I found some super cheap deals in the Walmart clearance aisle right after Christmas. So I think I have all our nieces and nephews and my son finished. Everything is tucked away in my hidey hole in the basement -just waiting for the appropriate time.

  8. Those are great gifts! We never spend over $20-30 for birthdays. I have never set the standard too high because I just don’t think its necessary. Christmas is pretty small too for us. I think its getting more expensive as they get older and want more expensive electronic type things so as long as I can get away with cheap, I am! 🙂

  9. We never buy a lot of gifts for birthdays or Christmas because we have so much extended family. If we bought the kids a lot of things, then they would end up with way too much. Plus, the younger one isn’t even two yet, so there’s absolutely no point. Last year, we got her one of those push toys you can ride on and some wooden blocks. Both things she loves, and not a whole lot out of our pocket.

  10. Kimberly says:

    I almost have Christmas shopping done. I have been entering giveaways on blogs since January. I can’t believe all the awesome things I have won. It is such a blessing to not have to worry about upcoming birthdays and holidays.

  11. Present giving has always been a challenge for me. After reading great ideas from blogs like yours, I was able to “think outside the box” and reign in my spending.

    I don’t think the gifts look skimpy at all!! It’s better to start small anyway, because it’s much harder to reverse it.

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