What Does Your Birthday Gift Say About You?

Within the past few months, I have attended several first birthday parties. Within the next few months I will be attending several more. There is not a whole lot of effort on the part of the guests at these functions. For the most part you show up with a gift, have some snacks while the kids crawl/toddle around, watch a baby make a mess (or not) with his/her cake, watch parents try to get their kid to cooperate and pretend to help open the presents, and then you’re all done. Kids at this age don’t have the attention span or nap span to really do much else.

Because of this, the first birthday gift opening is really one of the key elements of the event. This means everyone is going to be paying attention to what you thought was an appropriate gift for someone who has lived on this earth for 365 days. So, pick a gift that will make an impression! 


You might be a parent of older children and can’t quite remember what little kids like or do. That’s okay, mom will just have to put it up on a really high shelf along with the Legos someone gave them for Christmas. These are nice gifts, but the birthday boy will have to wait a few years to get to play with them.


You forgot to get a gift. Hopefully, you at least bought a card so you aren’t just handing the parent a wad of cash like you are paying back a debt or handing them a check like you are paying the caterer. The only times you might not seem like a procrastinator are if you live out of state and mailed it in a card OR if the parents specifically requested no gifts.

Noise Making Toy

You are the cool uncle or the twenty-something friend with no children. Honestly the parents are going to be irritated by this toy in less than a week and someone is going to “lose” it in the back of a closet. Here is the test to see if your toy is too annoying: plan a road trip of no less than 6 hours with at least two other people. One person’s job is to mash the buttons, bang on it, blow through it, what have you at random intervals no greater than 5 minutes apart. The other person can be your conversation companion and alternate driving with you if you wish. If anyone should fall asleep, the intervals between toy use should decrease to no more than one minute apart. By the end of the trip, if you are ready to throw the toy out the window (or if you already did), don’t expect little Junior to be playing with it the next time you visit.

Teething Toy

This gift depends on what teething toy you selected. If it’s Sophie, you’re probably a pretty trendy mom who has one and swears by it. If it’s something you found in the Target dollar bins and it is unclear whether it’s for babies or dogs, you might be a pet owner but not a parent. Put it back and try again.

Ride on/Push Walker

You are either a grandparent or you are trying to one-up everyone else at this event. If you are grandma and you buy this for your little angel, that is sweet and your darling grandbaby is going to love every moment spent interacting with it. If you are not, everyone is looking at you in a confused manner because this is not a typical “friend of the mom” gift. If you bought one of these and you are not grandma, you may want to re-think your gift. Exception: if a group of co-workers go in on this together, you are golden (as long as the grandparents don’t shoot you dirty looks).

Board Book

This is a pretty tried and true gift from one parent of a little one to another. Board books are quiet. They encourage language and literacy. They don’t rip apart at the drop of a hat or disintegrate in the toilet. They aren’t huge and take up a corner of the room and they come in lots of different topics. If you’re looking for some ideas, check out our Great Bedtime Board Books.

Developmentally/Age appropriate toys

If you thought, “This would be perfect to help develop the birthday girl’s fine motor/language/vocabulary/social skills,” then you probably have a degree in early childhood education or you have done a lot of reading about the subject. Although your present may not be the hit of the party, it will probably be one of the most play with over time.

Have you bought a first birthday gift? What suggestions do you have for selecting a winner for a one year old?

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Southern Carolina Family