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Dollar Store Birthday Baskets: Affordable, but Thoughtful

Dollar Store Birthday Baskets: Affordable, but Thoughtful

For many families in the Delta region  – in fact, for families just about everywhere – rising costs make life harder and harder. This money pinch is often felt even more during holidays and around your child’s birthday.

We of course always want to support local businesses if there’s an option, but sometimes…we just can’t afford it. If you’re feeling the financial burn and have no other choice, consider creating birthday gifts by filling a basket with items from a dollar store, such as Dollar Tree.

Now, things have gotten so expensive that even Dollar Tree is no longer a dollar – this popular budget chain recently changed its pricing, and many items are now $1.25 … or even more. For most things, however, it’s still more affordable to put together a “$1.25 store” gift basket than it is to buy these things from a higher-priced retailer. 

Here are a few hints for putting together a child’s birthday gift basket for under $20, with all items purchased at your neighborhood dollar store.

Have a Theme

– Consider using a cute plastic bin or pail, since it can be reused in the home for storage afterwards. Once it’s filled, use clear cellophane wrap – also found at the dollar store – to finish it off and give it the “fancy” look your child will love. Tie ribbons and a balloon to it to give the gift more oomph in its impact when presented at the party. Try to color-coordinate everything so the basked looks “planned” instead of just thrown together.

Get one BIG item

– Make the “big” item in the basket a large toy, also from the dollar store. Think in terms of size: Inflatable balls, showy plastic swords, pool toys you inflate before placing in the basket… basically, anything with a spring or summer feel that will impress. Use this item as the centerpiece of the gift basket; it will set both the theme and color.

Have a Sweet Sixteen…or Sweet Ten…or Sweet Five…

– How about an awesome candy-themed basket? There are so many candy choices at the dollar store, and you can get your child several packs of assorted candy and still have money left over for the basket/pail and wrapping. We don’t encourage sweet things all the time, but once a year on this special day, it’s…well…fine. Please note that while parents often notice the difference between brand-name candies and generics from a Dollar Tree, small children will never notice. Save your coins for things that really matter and that they WILL notice, and go generic instead on the gummy bears!

Get Crafty

– Does your child enjoy crafts? Dollar Tree stores now carry an impressive array of craft supplies. For $20, you can introduce your child to beadwork, painting, crochet or any number of crafts. 

Animal Love

– Is your child a fanatic for animals? Does he or she love dogs, cats, dinosaurs, fish or frogs? There is so much to choose from at a dollar store with an animal theme, especially if you consider the entire store: Plastic figurines, plush dolls, books, puzzles, coloring books, socks, animal-themed candies, animal-themed bath items…the list goes on and on. Here’s where your child will really feel loved, knowing that mom or dad remembered this favorite animal!

Gift a Garden

– If it’s a spring or summer party, spark your child’s interest in gardening by including REAL gardening supplies in his or her gift basket. Dollar stores now have a surprising number of gardening items, and you can be sure you’ll be getting them for the lowest price possible. A pack or two of flower or vegetable seeds, a few plastic pots, a small garden shovel or trowel, cool yard decor such as a spinner or windchime, a small bag of potting soil, and a pair of garden gloves will inspire any child that’s a nature-lover at heart!

Gift the Necessities of Accessories

– If you are on a really tight budget and your child needs clothes, add a few clothing items to the basket. Be sure to color coordinate it all to the theme. Think: cute socks, cute undies, a sun hat, flip flops, barrettes or headbands, or any necessities you will need to buy soon anyway. Combined with several toys, your child will still feel special despite the fact that these are clothing necessities.

For Teens and Tweens

– For older kids, make a basket that’s half candies and half “cool” stuff such as dollar store earbuds, phone case, phone stand, small external speakers, sunglasses, DVDs, bath bombs or body washes/sprays, etc. If you use your imagination and are open to anything, you might come up with a unique and very personalized basket for your tween or teen. 

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Good luck in saving money for those upcoming birthday parties!

About The Author

Kara Bachman

Kara Bachman is a Managing Editor for Parents & Kids. She's also a book editor, former newspaper reporter, and is author of the humor essay collection, "Kissing the Crisis," which deals with the zanier aspects of parenting, relationships and turning 40. She's read her work on NPR radio and over 1,500 items have appeared in dozens of literary and commercial publications, including The Writer, The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and, Dogster, Mississippi Magazine, American Fitness and many more. She's a New Orleans native, but lived for over a dozen years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including during 2005 when her house was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. She's a mom to two teenagers.

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