One gift, though, is always a hit, whether I give it to my own kids or let them take it to a birthday party.
When my oldest son was turning five, I needed one more present for him. But it was late and all the stores were closed and I didn't have much money to spend, anyway. Still, I wanted one more little thing for him to unwrap.
So I gave him five $1 bills, five quarters, five dimes, five nickels, and five pennies. I put them all in a little gift bag and tied it with ribbon.
He was thrilled.
Since then, on every birthday, I've given each of my boys a dollar, a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and a penny for every year he's celebrating.
Here's the loot for my son's gift bag for tomorrow. By the time the recipient is 16, it's a nice little haul. But that's the nice thing about this gift: it grows as the child grows, so it's a nice amount of money for whatever age child. For instance, for an 8-year-old, the total gift is $11.28. That's enough for an 8-year-old to buy something he or she might really like (or several things, if the lucky kid has a mom who frequents garage sales!). But it doesn't break the giver's bank.
I just keep a stash of those cello loot bags that you buy at Dollar Tree, pop in some colored tissue paper, pour in the cash, and tie it all up with a ribbon.
Presto! A gift that always fits and never needs to be returned.