Your child may well be jumping up and down with glee when they’re next invited to a birthday party.
You, on the other hand, may not be quite as thrilled at the prospect, because you’re already thinking about sourcing that all-important birthday gift, right? If this sounds familiar, fret no more!
In this article we’ve grouped together birthday party gift ideas by age. However, as children develop at different rates, these suggestions are intended as guidelines only.
By their first birthday, children are becoming much more mobile as they develop the gross motor skills (control of large muscles) which enable them to sit, stand, crawl and walk. At the same time, fine motor skills, involving hand-eye coordination and the ability to pick up small objects between the thumb and finger, are also developing. Perfect gifts for this age group will encourage these skills:
- Stacking cups – some have holes in the base and double as bath toys
- Bath toys
- Wobble base toys like Weebles
- Wooden or plastic building blocks
- Shape sorting toys
- Soft ball
- Chunky vehicles to push and pull
- Mini musical instruments such as a drum, maracas or a tambourine
- Books with lift-up flaps / textures – such as Usborne’s touchy-feely range
- Clothing items – always handy at this age!
Two-year-olds may be best known for their tantrums, but they are also fascinated by colours and shapes, have an ever-expanding vocabulary and love to copy adults. Gift ideas for this age include:
- Chunky crayons and scribbling paper
- Play dough
- Duplo or other large building bricks
- Toy tools
- Soft play food
- Plastic tea-set
- Picture books
- Hammer bench
- Simple jigsaw puzzles with knobs
- A teddy or doll.
Three-year-olds have a longer attention span than two-year olds. They are interested in sorting objects by shape, size and colour, and can recognise some numbers. Three is also the perfect time for pretend play, which teaches empathy and social roles. Spark their cognitive ability and imagination with these ideas:
- Simple board games which involve counting – e.g., Snakes and Ladders
- Books that feature numbers / counting / shapes – e.g. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Toy cash register
- Xylophone with coloured keys
- Toy food items that can be split into portions, such as cakes or pizzas
- Toy toasters, mixers or kitchen utensils
- Large beads or buttons in bright colours and shapes that can be strung together
- Model farm animals or dinosaurs
At four, finger dexterity is improving, and children can grip smaller toys. This is also an ideal age to introduce more complex building skills, alphabet / word recognition games and creative activities. Build on their growing skills with these suggestions:
- Foam bath letters
- Bath crayons
- Play mat with roads / railway and vehicles
- Decorative paper edge scissors – hone fine motor skills and improve hand strength
- Alphabet flashcards
- My First Bananagrams
- Magnetic letters
- Magnetic fishing game
- Magnetic drawing board
- Sand or water toys
- Orchard Toys Shopping List game
- Jenga or similar
Age 5 – 6
Between the age of five and six, children are more sociable and prefer playing with friends rather than on their own. Pretend play is often based on fantasy and drama. This age group are also more coordinated and love to show off new physical skills, while greater dexterity means that simple crafts are also popular. Birthday party gifts could include:
- Skipping rope
- Kinetic sand
- Snap cards
- Hungry, Hungry Hippos Grab & Go Game
- Simple Science kits
- Paper flower kit
- Plastic play figures – animals, people etc
- Hama beads or generic alternatives
- Mini football goal set
- Velcro catch set with ball
- Princess or pirate dress up items
- Washable felt pens – parents will appreciate these too!
- Playdough dinosaur kit in a tin (Amazon UK)
As children reach these ages, they are learning how to cooperate with others and to share what they have. Most are now independent readers and, as their vocabulary grows, they realise that some words have more than one meaning, which enables them to understand jokes and puns. This matters as humour is important for social bonding. However, humour isn’t the only thing 7–8-year-olds love, so this list includes other suggestions too:
- Fake poo
- Joke books
- Reading books
- Would You Rather game book – fun book that presents two silly scenarios which players choose between and then explain their choice. Available from Amazon UK.
- Magic kits
- Peel off nail polish
- Realistic toy cars
- K’nex or Lego construction kits
- Board games – Junior Scrabble, Pop-n’ Hop (a get your counters home first game featuring a pop-o-matic dice), Ludo
- Secret code books
- Slime kit – a brilliant opportunity to experience science through play and develop Maths skills (ratio) – plus it’s relaxing!
- Collectables (cards, dolls, mini figures)
- Personalised stationery items – kids love pencils, pens etc with their name on.
At this age, children begin to form social relationships and friendships. They can focus on an activity for longer periods of time and have growing manual dexterity. As they approach ten, children are also able to think more abstractly. With this in mind, here are some age-appropriate birthday gift suggestions:
- 3D puzzles
- Rubik’s cube
- Dobble –A cognitively challenging card game that is fabulous fun and can be played in several different ways – we love the Harry Potter version! Great for building social skills.
- Crystal growing kits
- Sew Mini Treats (Klutz) – a book and activity kit in one which includes ‘18 food plushies to stitch and stuff’ (Amazon UK)
- World’s Smallest Operation – mini version of the classic game – requires good dexterity
- Smartlab Squishy Human Body – brilliant for learning about human anatomy in a fun way.
- Sports equipment – football, junior tennis racquet, a cricket or rounders bat
- Vidiyo – a music video maker from Lego that combines bricks with technology
They aren’t teenagers, but they’re not kids either, for which reason the tween years can be difficult to buy for. Now they’ve reached that in between stage though, they may well enjoy learning new skills, following trends and testing their brainpower with board games. Here’s a list of suggestions:
- Winning Colour Change Light Box with remote Control (Amazon UK)
- Slogan T-shirts
- STEM kits
- Stick-on mobile phone pockets (holds cash and cards)
- Personalised mug
- Tulip Two Minute Tie Die Kit (works in the microwave to speed the process up!)
- Stationery items
- Ponytail beanie hat
- Costume jewellery
- Hair chalk – fun temporary colour in a ‘pen’ that washes out
- Articulate Mini Travel Version
- Pictionary Air
- Mastermind code breaker game
- Smart Games IQ Circuit – 120 challenges and five levels of difficulty!
- Ginger Fox Chocolate Cake in a Mug Gift
- Selfie stick
- Cable Critters
- Phone case
Hopefully, this article will provide you with a good starting point the next time you’re in need of a kid’s birthday party gift. However, it’s a long way from exhaustive – there are endless gifts out there still waiting to be discovered!
You’ll also find that some of the gifts in one category will be suitable for kids in other age groups too. Use your own judgement alongside the article. If in doubt, especially with older children, ask your own child – they will often know what their friends like and dislike.
That’s a wrap
We hope you’ve enjoyed this content!
At PartyWizz we help parents and party organisers easily book entertainment and key elements of a party online. We pride ourselves in working with the best entertainers in each category – magicians, face painters, balloon modelers, princess parties, arts and crafts, and many more.
If you’re based in Ireland and you’re interested in hiring a kid’s entertainer you can place the booking directly through PartyWizz.