Go To Gift Ideas for New Orleans Toddler Birthday Parties

You have heard of wedding season, but have you heard of birthday season? Not sure if it is an official thing, but I am definitely in the trenches of toddler birthday party season. With a handful of birthday parties a month, I have been racking my brain to come up with ideas for presents.gifts

We just had Annelise’s party in early September and it was great to see what others were giving. I tend to over think what to get people as presents. I just enjoy gift giving so much that I think I make it too hard. I do have two rules that I apply when deciding on gifts.

  1. No small pieces. I know how much I hate picking up toys with lots of little parts, so I don’t buy them.
  2. No art supplies. I am not sure of a parent’s personal preference on markers or play dough so I don’t do it. Some people prefer to avoid the mess, and I can understand that.

Birthday parties are notorious for gift overload. Our house is busting at the seams with toys, and good ‘ole Santa will be here before you know it. I know many parents have opted for no gift birthday parties, which I think is smart until people like me are invited. I just cannot go empty handed. Blame it on my mother for raising me that way, but I bring something to every function, whether it is a gift or a bottle of wine. For the last no gift children’s party I attended, I opted to skip the gift for the child and brought the mom a Starbucks gift card. Sorry, it’s a fault … I have to bring something!

If you are like me and are deep into birthday season, or if you are working on your early Christmas shopping, I have put together my top ten list of ideas for presents. These suggestions are pretty neutral on age, and you don’t need to know much about the child. For example, if the invitation comes through school you may not know the child’s favorite character or clothing size. All of these suggestions are pretty budget friendly as well!

  1. Bath supplies: This was one of my daughter’s favorite presents to get. It was a bag full of bath time fun such as Crayola bath crayons, Crayola bath drops to color the water, Crayola bath finger paint, Mr Bubble foam soap, etc.
  2. Outdoor fun: Similar to the bath supplies, a gift of outdoor fun could be bubbles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hula-hoop, sprinkler, ribbon streamer, a new ball, etc.
  3. Personalized Plate: A personalize melamine plate can be used for years to years. Plus, who doesn’t want to make a “happy plate” so you can see your name at the bottom? You can grab them on Etsy or Zulily has them from time to time.
  4. Play dates: There are lots of local places around town that offer a very affordable play fee such as Palm Tree Playground, the Monkey Room, Bounce De Lis and Bookoo Bounce.
  5. Local books: Mostly since Katrina there has been an explosion of local authors writing about the places and lifestyle that make NOLA so special. Some of the newest books include A Saintsational Swamp Adventure, The Sleepy AnimalsNOLA A to Z and the Adventures of Yat and Dat.
  6. Personalized shirt: Whether it is a birthday boy or girl you are buying for, there are many local shops that offer LSU, Saints, streetcar, superhero and princess options. I wrote a full synopsis here.
  7. Movies: A gift that gives hours of fun and is good at home or in the car on the go. There are a million movies out there so the options are endless from a Disney classic to a compilation of TV episodes.
  8. Pajamas: Since pajamas don’t need to fit precisely, this is the best option for a clothing purchase for a child whose size you don’t know. Always buy a size up instead of a size down just to make sure it fits.
  9. Doodlebags: Little, compact and personalized, this is a quiet gift that packs up quickly to go. Excellent for church or restaurants, the Doodlebags (from local company Design A Latte) come complete with colors, paper, chalk and a chalkboard included.
  10. Gift card: I know it is not as fun to wrap, but a gift card is great. It gives mom and child and opportunity for a later outing to pick something out. It also helps to spread out the presents since kids can easily be overwhelmed with the number of presents they get at their party. Recommended places to get a gift card to would be Barnes and Noble, The Disney Store, Creole Creamery, Learning Express, or even Target.

What’s your go to toddler birthday party gift?


  1. Cool post! It does seem to be birthday season in the preschool circuit.

    You are right that you just don’t know the mom’s preferences. I love hearing your opinion, and would love to be able to give and get honest feedback from other moms!

    I agree about art supplies and yet I hear lots of mom DO suggest art supplies, because they are consumable, not a toy that will last forever. I usually think that I don’t want to give a gift that requires the parent to help the child complete it. Like a craft item, or a paint-your-own jewelry box…. But I did receive something like that once and it turned out to not be so bad.

    I like local t-shirts- like the Saints R2D2 from Fleurty Girl and the Nola Heart one from Storyville.

    I only like the snug fit pajamas, because I don’t like the flame retardant chemical treatment on the fabric.

    I enjoy picking out presents, especially toys for kids! It’s a lot more fun than picking out a present for my husband, sister, or brother-in-law! That’s why I don’t like the “no-gift” parties, but, maybe I need to get with the program. I just got invited to one where they asked for donations to an animal rescue. I guess that’s pretty noble, but I would honestly rather buy the child something. Maybe that’s more about me, not her, and that’s not what gift giving is supposed to be about.

  2. I love shopping local whenever possible. but the Play Doh toys (like the trucks that can mold play doh) are really fun for boys. I do love getting applique shirts matching a party’s theme from Lisey Lu or Design A Latte, though!

  3. The bath tub crayons and finger paints can be a nightmare depending on your grout in your tub. I would classify them in the art supplies category.

    Bath tub crayons are oil based, so water doesn’t help when you need to clean up. Some people use cleaners like windex to remove it, but my children always decides to draw in all of the grout lines. The worst is when they draw on the caulk where the tub meets the walls. If you buy them, just remember it will add additional time when cleaning your bathroom.

    I know it sounds like I’m against them, but I still buy them. The kids love them and we practice writing our number & alphabet.

    On a side note, we’ve made our own tub crayons out of dove soap(sentive unscented). Both of my children bad eczema and I find that is the best soap to use. By using a cheese grater, food coloring, cookie cutters, and a little hot water. As long as you don’t use a ton of food coloring it a lot easier to clean off since they are not oil based. Plus they can wash themselves with them.

    If you really can’t decide on a gift, ALWAYS BUY THEM GLITTER! Hahaha


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