Finding the perfect birthday gift on a budget need no longer be a challenge if you have the right tips and know just where to look
Finding the perfect birthday gift on a budget need no longer be a challenge if you have the right tips and know just where to look

According to Western tradition, it was believed that evil spirits are wont to haunt and harm people on their birthdays. So, their friends and family would gather around the person on that day and bring with them their well wishes and blessings. That was the beginning of birthday parties. In time, these well wishes also included presents, and so began the tradition of birthday gift-giving.

Gift-giving is an art that is not necessarily helped by a bigger budget. In fact, if you know where to look, you can get an ideal present for S$20 and under. Insidegives you tips on how to shop for that birthday gift and clues you in on some quirky finds that will not break the bank.

1. Act Your Age … Or Theirs

Since birthdays are all about marking the person’s age, the first tip is: make sure the gift is age-appropriate.

Toys are the standard go-to for children’s gifts. But there are other things you can buy a tot for his or her birthday. For children who are not old enough to do things for themselves (three and under), items they can use or that can help mommy are great.

Maternity and children’s store, Mothercare, has both types of items aplenty. Room accessories make a fun choice and their selection of rugs is designed to bring cheer to any room. But find out the décor, colour scheme and design theme of the birthday child’s room before you pick one.

To help the busy mom, a set of freezer containers is a godsend. The Clevamama Freezer and Storage Pots come in a set of eight, each with their own lids. They are perfect for storing baby’s food in the fridge or freezer in little portions that are just right for the junior. Because they are microwave safe, moms can heat up the food and feed their children all from the same container – fewer dishes, less work.

Children grow up so fast, parents sometimes think it is a shame to spend too much on their togs. So while the young ones may not appreciate it, moms and dads do love fancy clothes for their kids as gifts. Fox’s collection of children’s wear is colourful, oh-so-cute and bound to make you a hit with the folks.

For older children, stationery and curios make good gifts for girls. Stationery store, Smiggle, offers assortments of notebooks, pens and pencils in bold hues all for under S$20. There are also wallets and coin purses (S$11.50), and pencil cases (S$15) in various designs including adorable animal motifs to pick from. For all her bric-a-brac, there is the Spirit Tote Bag (S$16.70). Smiggle is not just a store for girls. Little boys will love their Cats and Dogs Classic Drink Bottle (S$15), too.

While little girls love knick-knacks, little boys like things that let them give vent to their sense of adventure. The Magic Hall, reputed to be one Singapore’s largest magic shops, has it all for the Houdini wannabe or the regular prankster. For S$15, you can give the tyke his own pet caterpillar that wiggles and crawls seemingly on its own. The Adams Magic Woolly Caterpillar can zip around at what look like its owners fancy and perform tricks as well.

Haunted Hank (S$18) is another trick that will thrill. At the command of the magician in the making, the handkerchief springs to life and does jaunty jives.

For the trickster, the Break Away Wand is the gift. The wand seems to only stay upright in the right hands. When handled by someone other than its owner, it crumbles.

2.His & Hers

It is often said that women are so much easier to shop for than men. The tried and tested gifts that are sure to please her include jewellery, clothes, flowers, perfume, toiletries and, in some cases, even stuffed toys.

For something different, try the Konad Stamping Nailart set (S$19.90) from BeatleSweet, the place that sells beads and bling for just about anything. The nail-imprinting kit stamps pre-designed prints onto nails in just minutes. The birthday girl can have her very own manicure and pedicure right at home. As a bonus, it can also stamp the patterns onto mobile phones, earrings, pendants, bracelets, gift boxes, watches, calculators, clocks and even sunglasses. Personalising your possessions could not be more fun!

Women are known to have a much keener sense of smell than men. So, anything that helps her smell good or create good smells around her are welcomed. Spa products specialist Lemongrass House has a range of Room Sprays (S$19) that can wrap any room, car, fabric furniture and even bed linen in a cocoon of aromas that will lift spirits and enhance relaxation. It is aromatherapy in a bottle. Since their products are all natural, there is also no fear of breathing in unhealthy chemicals.

Men are less enamoured by aesthetics. So, go for things they can use. Young Generation, which does corporate gifts, has a few items that may work, like their mini bladeless fans (S$12.95). Streamline in design, hassle-free in function and a handy size, these fans make a fine addition to the work station.

For the morning cuppa to perk him up, Young Generation has quirky Finger Handle Mug that comes in classic black and white. The gift says sophisticated with touch of creative and a sense of humour, exactly how the birthday boy wants to see himself.

A cautionary word: if you are buying something for the opposite sex, avoid giving things that are too intimate if you are merely casual friends. Anything that can be worn such as clothes, especially lingerie, and even fragrances; or used on the body such as bath items and toiletries are no-nos.

3. Knowing Me, Knowing You

Buy something the person would like. This sounds elementary. But there are some who like to use birthday gifts to introduce a new interest. Don’t. Your gift will probably end up forgotten on the shelf or re-gifted. Instead, buy something related to the person’s interest.

This sometimes requires a little creativity. You might work with a theme, for instance. Totally Hot Stuff is a novelty store that is stocked with fun items that may spark your imagination. For someone who works at a bank or deals with figures regularly, you might want to get a gift with a money motif like a money door stopper (S$7.95). Instead of movie tickets, you could get a movie buff a clapper board inspired notebook (S$15.95).

Breakfast lovers, egg lovers and fun-loving people might enjoy the Sunnyside Egg Shaper (S$14.90) that literally makes your sunny side up eggs sunny.

For wine lovers, the Rope Wine Holder appeals in both form and function, and is a sure conversation starter.

At the end of the day, the best birthday presents are those that are selected with thought and love. With a little imagination and a few practical tips, whatever you give will be a pleasant surprise.

Shop with us:

Mothercare Kids and Baby
Fox Kids and Baby

The Magic Hall

Young Generation
Totally Hot Stuff