When you have young children, attending birthday parties can become weekly events. In the preschool and elementary age set, kids tend to invite their whole class, which can mean lots of presents to buy.

A birthday box is a stash of age appropriate gifts ready for these occasions. When it’s time for the next party, your child goes “shopping” in the box. This will save you money, because you’ll stock up on items found on sale.

The key to stocking your gift box is not only to choose items that are on deep discount but also to stay away from fads, current trends and time-sensitive items. Choose timeless gifts, such as craft kits, art supplies, games, puzzles and educational toys. That way, whether you have an opportunity to give the present tomorrow or six months from now, the gift will be appreciated.

Here are some ideas for where to shop to stock your box.

Warehouse Stores

I’ve found great gifts at Costco such as mega-packs of colored markers, play dough and multi packs of books. Sometimes I even break up sets and mix and match items to make gift sets, increasing the savings. Warehouse stores are also a great place to stock up on gift cards for tweens and teens.

Craft Stores

Craft stores such as Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels often stock a selection of craft kits at slashed prices.

Drug Stores

Most drug stores have a toy aisle, and sometimes you will find smaller gifts at discounted prices. I once found these cute clear bath soaps with a goldfish toy embedded inside the soap. I bought several and tied them onto wrapped birthday packages. They were a huge hit and cost me less than a dollar apiece.

Discount Stores

Walmart and Target often have items on clearance prices. Always check the clearance and sales aisles to find a potential gift! And your local dollar store can be a treasure trove for a bargain seeker. If you like using gift bags, purchasing these at the dollar store will cut way down on your wrapping costs.


When stocking up, check online stores, such as Mindware and Learning Resources. Both carry educational and unusual toys and games. Because these items are less common, you decrease the chance of giving a duplicate gift. Check the sale or clearance section. Melissa & Doug, offer quality toy products, and I’ve found some gems in the clearance section on their website.

End of Season Sales

Don’t forget to check the clearance aisles at your favorite stores at the end of each season. For example: at the end of summer, stock up on water toys, sand toys and bubble mix.

– Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

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