The Art of Party Gift Giving

When your child receives their first invitation to another child’s birthday party, it could mark the start of many years of party fun — especially in the early stage of primary school, where the tendency is to invite everyone in the class ­— and that’s a whole lot of presents to buy. So what kind of birthday gifts do you give?

The parent buys presents in bulk, ten jumbo packs of colouring pencils or pens, ten battery powered trains, jumbo packs of cards and multipacks of wrapping paper. No matter how little notice they have, they are never caught short.

Sweaty and swearing, the parent runs into the local supermarket on the way to the party, desperately grabbing some kind of gift and some paper to wrap it in, in the car or on the bus. Sometimes they have to run back in, still swearing, to buy sellotape and scissors.

The parent always makes time to buy something that is educational, fashionable and fun … but not too showy or expensive. It is always wrapped to perfection, complete with a funny card with a badge on it.

The parent only buys things that the child will love and the mum and dad will be slightly less keen on, like massive bags of chewy sweets or bright plastic things that make annoying noises and drive everybody crazy.

The parent only buys things that mum and dad will love and their child will be slightly less keen on, like plain t-shirts, gloves or socks.

The parent forgets the date of the birthday party or is simply too busy to get to the shops. “I’m so sorry,” they gasp, as their child arrives empty-handed, “I left the present on the kitchen table! I’ll give it to you on Monday”.