How Many Gifts Should a Child Get for a Birthday

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

Looking into the pile of gifts prepared for your child’s birthday gets you thinking: Is this over-excessive? Should you have stopped, like, ten gifts ago? Are there any rules you should follow when buying gifts? These are all legitimate questions. The question of what impact could the number of gifts have on a child’s development is quite serious. You have to think of all the things that will shape your child’s personality, and gifts are one of those things.

The major concern here is whether you’ll spoil your child with a large number of gifts and make her/him focus on material stuff later in life. The truth is, that could happen. When you buy many gifts, children focus on the numbers rather than the gifts themselves. Their eyes drift away, and they become more concerned with opening all the boxes instead of appreciating what they got. If this happens all over again for all birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and other gift-giving events, it can reflect on their lives in general. They might become too concerned with numbers and the importance of material stuff. You want to teach your children that happiness, in most cases, isn’t related to material goods. To do so, you need a strategy!

Luckily, you can choose between several approaches when planning your child’s birthday. You can avoid gift-giving in general, lower the number of gifts, or do some other things. The key is to choose the way you think is best for your child, but you have to know what options you have in the first place. That’s why we have listed some of the possible alternatives to buying numerous gifts and tried to answer some of the parent’s burning questions regarding the topic. Hopefully, our answers and recommendations will help you answer the question of how many gifts should a child get for a birthday and decide on actual numbers.

Birthday Party: What to Do and How Much Money to Spend?

Throwing a Party

Should you throw a birthday party for your child or not? Well, that mostly depends on your personal preferences. Nowadays, parents tend to seek for alternatives, considered with the impact of ever-growing consumerist tendencies on their children. However, birthday parties don’t have to be centered around expensive stuff, and children do enjoy them a lot. They get to play with their friends, have fun, and eat a little bit more candies than regularly. Who can say no to candies and delicious food?

If you’re considering making a special request for your child’s birthday (e.g. asking for particular gifts, monetary donations for college, etc.) you can take a look at this article How to Ask for Presents on Invitations. It will give you the necessary guidance on the topic.

Excessive Events

Recent studies have shown that most parents spend more than 400 dollars for children’s birthday parties. No wonder why those on a limited budget raise their voice against such practices. If children see high-budget parties, they often wonder why they didn’t get one, and demand the same treatment. We know it’s easier said than done but try to ignore standards set up by other parents. If you don’t have the means to throw a big-time event, that’s completely fine. There are many ways you can make a birthday party super fun for the kids without spending large amounts of money.

It’s crucial to teach your children about the importance of spending time with friends and celebrating the day of birth. Other frills such as pricey decorations and fancy food are less important in life. Besides, it can be even more fun to indulge in a DIY project and make all the decorations together.

To conclude, feel free to spend the exact amount of money you think it’s suitable for the event. Ask other parents for their opinions but decide on your own, according to what you think is best for your child. Just don’t forget to calculate the expenses of birthday gifts when you decide to set the party budget limit.

Gift-Giving: Should Parents Limit the Number of Gifts?

How Many Gifts is Enough?

We finally got to the burning question of how many gifts do you give for your child’s birthday.  It’s a rather tricky one, we give you that. Parents all over the world are concerned with this question, and they don’t seem like they can reach consensus.

For example, when it comes to the question of How Many Gifts to Buy a Child for Christmas, most parents suggest (and stick to) the number of three or four. They relate it to Christianity and the number of gifts baby Jesus got (gold, frankincense, and myrrh). Then they opt for something that children need and want, and something to read (and wear, but the fourth one is optional).

Things are not that simple when it comes to birthdays. Without a religious background to help you out, it’s hard to conclude what is an appropriate number of gifts. However, there’s a simple logic you can follow when answering the question. There’s no such thing as “enough gifts”. If your child gets accustomed to receiving a pile of them, he/she won’t feel like getting three gifts (all of a sudden) is “enough”.

The key is to teach children that material and monetary stuff isn’t everything in the world. You can definitely do this by limiting the gifts, but you don’t have to opt for one to two gifts to do so. You should be more concerned with the meaning of the gift and always shop according to your budget. If you have some extra money to spend on your child’s gift, consider what would that mean for her/him. Buy extra gifts if you want, but stop yourself on time, and avoid overwhelming your child with presents.

Lastly, if you think a no-gift policy is the best solution, go for it. In the beginning, it might be hard to explain to your child why this year he/she won’t be getting any birthday gifts, but that won’t last for long. Your child will probably thank you later on, you only have to be brave and withstand the initial reactions!

P.S. We know it could be difficult to explain why you chose a no-gift policy, especially to other parents and family members. If you need some extra tips on the topic, take a look at the following article How to tell someone no more gifts.

Gift Pricing

How much to spend on your child’s birthday gift? That mostly depends on your budget and the limits you set. For example, it’s not that beneficial to limit the number of gifts if you choose to give one insanely expensive gift instead. You should balance the number of gifts and their price at the same time.

Now, if you opt for monetary gifts, the important question is how much money should I give for a birthday present? All we said above applies to this question too. There’s no real difference between investing in a particular gift and giving that money to the host (in monetary terms). Therefore, consider all we mentioned above when trying to answer the question.

Alternatives: What to Do Instead of Giving Gifts?

You can also opt for alternatives. You don’t have to stick with material stuff and traditional gift-giving. Here’s what we have in mind:


We can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to opt for experiences instead of gifts. The guests can participate or not, but your child will learn much more from experiences than material stuff. We are talking about trips and holidays, and things that one can learn from by visiting new places and discovering historical facts. Of course, there are also many other experiences one can ask for, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

If you’re not sure how to do this, we got you covered with the article about How to Ask for Experiences Instead of Gifts.

College Savings

You can always raise a fund for your child’s future education. It’s a smart way to invest money and allow your child to go to college he/she wants. One is certain, your child will be thankful for life, although not necessarily happy with your decision at the beginning.


Another option is to raise funds for charity. You can choose to give all the money or set a percent. It’s up to you. Another great idea is volunteering. You can organize this instead of the birthday party and get all the guests to participate. It’s a fun and educational way to spend the day and children will feel way better afterward. They’ll feel like they made a difference, however small.

Social Pressure: Is a No-Gifts Policy a New Trend?

Looking Up to Other Parents

As more and more parents opt for no-gift birthdays or raising money for charity, some others feel the social pressure of following the new policy. We heard a lot of parents ask:

“Is this a new rule we should all follow? Will we be bad and greedy parents if we allow for birthdays with presents? Is it true that we can only teach our children against consumerism and materialism by avoiding celebrations and gifts altogether?

There’s no simple answer to these questions. The truth is, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything, although it’s completely normal that you do. With so many different trends around you, it’s natural that you worry about being perceived as a bad parent if you don’t follow them. However, you should learn to let go, do only the things you’re comfortable with, and avoid trying to please others.

The things you should worry about, rather than dwell on other people’s opinions, is what is best for your child. You want to teach them not to be primarily concerned with material stuff and value other things in life more. You want to show them how important is to love, share, and help others.

Giving up on gifts isn’t the only way you can give your children a valuable life lesson. It’s one way to do it and it’s rather efficient, we give you that, but it’s not something you should stick with at any cost. What parent doesn’t enjoy seeing the flicker of surprise in children’s eyes when they see birthday gifts? If you can’t give up on that, don’t. There are other things you can do to teach your child a lesson on gift-giving and the importance of charity and helping others.


If you want to continue with the birthday celebrations and gift-giving, you can check out these alternative ideas to helping others and teaching your children to be more conscious about material and monetary presents:

Regifting New or Old Toys

The most important thing to teach kids in the age of consumerism is about the importance of giving. The recent studies about human behavior have shown that people are happier when helping and giving gifts to others than when receiving stuff. Your child will not only feel better for helping others, but he/she will actually make a difference in the world.

Therefore, talk to your child about giving up some old or new toys. For example, you can set a policy of regifting half of the newly received stuff. Your child gets to pick the things he/she likes the most and give the others away. In the end, you know that he/she won’t be truly using all received things, especially if you have a list of relatives as long as your arm. In this case, it would be contra-productive leaving your child with piles of gifts threatening to knock over all your parenting lessons.

Organizing Activities for the Guests

You can ask the guests to participate in a joined activity. They can all give away a few dollars from the budget meant for the gift and gather up money for a DIY project. Then organize a birthday activity where kids can decorate stuff and make food gift baskets to be delivered to orphanages, nursing homes, or other places. This way, they can do something creative, have fun, and also help others.


Do you find our answers and suggestions useful? We hope so! Our main goal was to answer some of the most commonly asked parents’ questions when it comes to gift-giving. We also tried to include different perspectives and approaches, because we all see things in life in different ways. That’s especially true when it comes to parenting. Therefore, we hope you were able to find answers to your questions and useful tips for your child’s upcoming birthday. Don’t forget, when answering the question of how many gifts should a child get for a birthday, try to think of what would be the optimal number for you and your child, and not about social rules and demands. Do what you think is best for your child!





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