Boyish Charm

50 Free Birthday Gift Ideas for Kids

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What do you do when it’s gift-giving time and you don’t want to/can’t spend much money? This list of free birthday gifts for kids should spark some satisfying ideas for giver and receiver. Use your skills to create something just for the birthday celebrant. For example, what child wouldn’t be excited to have a song composed just for him/her? If you’re not particularly musical, make up words about the child but sing the message to a familiar tune. Create a recording of it so the child can enjoy it again and again. A gardener might pick a pint-sized container of berries to be enjoyed by the pint-sized birthday child. If you’re artistic, draw a picture. Thoughtful gifts, some handmade, all heartfelt, are always welcome!

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Give coupons or certificates that can be redeemed for:

1. Extra television/game time.

2. The best seat in the house.

3. Organization of LEGO’s/toy collection.

4. Pet chores (I’ll walk the dog, clean the litter box, etc.)

5. Household chores (Trade this coupon to get your bed made, the trash taken out, the dishes washed, etc.)

6. A free pass for cleaning your room. The door can remain closed for ____ day/s!

7. All electronic games and devices will be kept charged for ____ day/s.

8. Stay up as late as you’d like.

9. Sleep in as late as you’d like.

10. Ball retrieval for ½ hour.

11. Favorite meal preparation.

12. How-to lesson for ________.

13. Play music as loud as you’d like for ____ (minutes? hours?).

14. Bubble bath/home spa treatment.

15. Picnic in a special spot.

16. One-on-one time star gazing together.

17. An afternoon/evening of playing games together.

18. Read-alouds, complete with you using your best character voices.

In addition to the service types of gifts, there are many nearly free DIY gift ideas, too. Knit a hat, sew an apron or make a sling shot (to be used with marshmallows, of course!) with materials you already have on hand. Other ideas include:

19. Create a scavenger hunt with a batch of favorite cookies as the ending prize. Present the first clue in a corked bottle for extra excitement.

20. Painted rocks; these can be people, animals or game pieces (like Tic-Tac-Toe).

21. Piggy bank made of newspaper mache or an embellished Mason jar.

22. Present a collection of free, printable games (Bingo, matching games, mazes, etc.).

23. Paint/embellish empty candy tins. They can be used for small, portable games (Tic-Tac-Toe) or as a tiny house or garage.

24. Make paper dolls or paper action figures and clothes. You can also find free, printable versions.

25. Make a coloring book with simple original drawings or free printable pages. Spark creativity by only drawing part of a shape so the child can finish the drawing before coloring.

26. Orphan socks and gloves can become hand puppets, stuffed animals or stick ponies.

27. Melt old and broken crayons and make new rainbow versions.

28. Save small pieces of soap bars, melt and mold them into fun shapes.

29. Use tin cans and leftover hardware to create robots or collect the pieces and present them as a make-your-own kit.

30. Use paint chips to create a color-matching game.

31. Draw dots on cardstock to use for a paper domino game.

32. Kids love keys; collect old extras on a key chain.

33. Some kids enjoy collecting rocks. Pick up pretty/unusual rocks; wash, dry and spread them on a sheet of foil. Spray them with varnish so their colors show best. Present them in a small box.

34. Cardboard can morph into a toy or kid sized barn, house, castle, car, doll bed, etc.

35. A large cardboard box makes a super grocery store. Add small, empty food boxes and tin cans to stock the store.

36. Make finger puppets from paper, felt or fabric.

37. Write a story that stars the birthday child. Include a handmade bookmark.

38. Empty water or pop bottles can be painted and used as fun bowling pins.

39. Use a thick, old book. Leave the covers intact. Cut the center portion of all pages out, but leave the borders. You’ll have a special book with a secret compartment—the perfect spot for a small stash of candy.

40. Paint or decorative tape will transform a pair of identical tin cans into stilts. Punch a hole on opposite sides of the can; insert enough rope through the holes to be hand holds.

41. Wooden pegs or clothespins can be decorated as dolls, superheroes or favorite story characters.

42. An extra place mat can be folded and stitched to be used as a toy tool pouch, purse or crayon holder. Add ribbon ties.

43. For a portable toy road, extra pieces of wood (especially 2×4 or 1×6) can be painted black with yellow lines down the middle.

44. Stir up a batch of homemade bubbles.

45. Create a variety pack of homemade play dough, goop, slime, etc.

46. Make a box of instruments for little noise makers. Potentials include: an oatmeal box drum; shoebox and rubber band guitar; cardboard tube, wax paper and rubber band kazoo; a wrapping paper tube rain stick; plastic egg and dry bean maracas; and jingle bells sewn to elastic. Be mindful of safety issues for younger children.

47. Pass along seeds and decorated popsicle stick plant markers for a garden kit.

48. For playing office or teacher, decorate an empty cereal box for use as a briefcase. Add a medium sized clip and paper to a flat piece of cardboard for a clipboard. Paper, pens, name tags, etc., will add extra fun.

49. Create a crafting kit by filling a box with pieces of colorful paper, ribbon, trim, buttons, feathers, stickers (freebies are often sent with mail offers), and any extra bits that might spark a child’s imagination,

50. Kids love to play dress-up. Fill a small box or old suitcase with clean clothing items and hats that you no longer wear. Include some extras like liter bottle jet packs for explorers of the universe, homemade super hero masks, capes, crowns, etc. Paper or felt animal masks and ears (attached to headbands) can be included, too.

Need a gift idea for a party? Check out these great sources, perfect for a little boy, gathered by the team at Spaceships and Laser Beams. 

Don’t miss out on more great gift ideas.

Plus, check out Sweet Gift Toppers

Candy-Gift-Toppers

What is your favorite free gift idea to give?

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Stephanie Keeping

Stephanie is in love with a boy named Sam. He has taught her that it's okay to jump first and look later, to wear a dirty shirt to the park and to decide that today is a good day to take a nap in your rubber boots. She hangs out here blogging at Spaceships and Laser Beams and at our printable party shop on Etsy.