We are headed into birthday season in our house! The invitations keep coming home from school. Yet, now that the kids are in grade school, I don’t know their school friends all that well. As you can imagine, this makes picking out a great birthday gift a little tough.

Here are some sure-fire tips to make sure you always give a great gift at the party!

Gifts for the Other Gender (or Unknown Gender)

Being a boy mom, I have no clue what girls like to play with these days. Sure, I could take a pretty good guess, but I am not really in the loop. Most stores have toys separated by gender and also by age group. It can help you narrow down your choices. However, some stores are moving away from this. So, what to do? Look around and see if there are any other children in the store, and ask them what they would pick out for themselves. (Make sure you ask their parents permission before walking up to a child). If you can’t get a child’s opinion, ask a few store clerks what they would recommend, or which toys are their best sellers.

Confide in Parents

When you RSVP for the party, ask the parents over the phone what their child might like for a gift! They may at least let you in on his or her favorite characters or brands, which will help you make a better decision. Even better, ask them to create a gift list. Sites like Amazon have them and makes gift picking (and buying) easy!

Go-To Favorites

When I am really stumped or pressed for time, I go for something that all kids love like an art kit, board game, or LEGOs. You really can’t go wrong with them. I know my kids love getting new crayons and a fresh drawing pad. Mom and Dad will thank you, too.

If that doesn’t inspire you, get a gift card, BUT get a little creative with it! Make it more fun for the child by putting the gift card inside multiple envelopes. Alternatively, make a nesting doll effect by putting the gift cards inside a number of different sized boxes. Want to make it harder? I love giving a gift card in this Money Puzzle Brain Teaser. The kids have to complete the maze to unlock their gift card!

Whatever you decide to buy, always keep your receipts or ask for a gift receipt to be included in the box. This gives the receiver the option of returning or exchanging their gift for something else, without hurting or offending the giver.

When all else fails, you know The Toy Insider has you covered!