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Birthday on a Budget Gift Guide

Updated: Jan 17



Have you heard the expression, “Another year older, another year wiser”? I never realized just how true it was until I became a mom! It is incredible to watch my children grow from year to year, always accumulating new skills and knowledge. Their birthdays are the perfect time to highlight and celebrate their growth while looking forward to an upcoming year of even more learning and fun!


I absolutely love gift-giving and always put a lot of thought into birthday presents. There are a few things I take into consideration when choosing kids’ birthday gifts. First, I value toys that will help to teach important skills throughout the upcoming year and beyond. Another consideration is how a gift fits into my budget. Whether it is being purchased for a friend, relative, or my own kids, affordability is always high on my list. Longevity is also important to me and I want to be sure that the gift can be used for a long time. This means that toys offer multiple, engaging ways to play and that these items can also be played with in new ways as kids grow older.


Inexpensive and engaging while teaching kids important skills? Does this unicorn gift actually exist? YES! I can always count on VTech® and LeapFrog® to meet and exceed my expectations with exciting gift choices that also won’t break the bank!




This birthday gift guide features my favorite budget-friendly birthday gifts that provide endless hours of learning and play! Keep reading for some must-haves that I have incorporated into budget-friendly birthday gift guides for first birthdays, toddler years, and preschool years (& beyond!). I’ve got you covered!



First Birthday Gift Guide


First birthdays are cause for a major celebration! Babies are becoming more mobile, vocal, and adorable little people by the day! These gifts can help encourage all these emerging skills.



Little ones will be thrilled to be greeted by name after unwrapping the LeapFrog My Pal Violet Smarty Paws. Along with their name, she can be personalized to know their favorite food, color, and animal (tip: use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to easily personalize Violet while she is still in the box prior to wrapping!). They will love singing and babbling with their cuddly new interactive friend who has 325+ songs, phrases, and sounds to encourage early language development. (Ages 6+ months)



Another great gift choice for a new one-year-old is the VTech Pop-a-Balls Push & Pop Bulldozer. On average, babies typically take their first steps around this age, so a toy that encourages mobility is sure to provide endless hours of fun! They will be excited to discover that pushing the bulldozer forward causes the balls to pop up from the smokestack, into the scoop bucket, and back again. (Ages 12-36 months)


The VTech I See Me Lion Mirror is a thoughtful gift that will make sure the birthday babe knows just how special they are! As they explore their own reflection, they will hear positive and loving phrases along with uplifting songs. Plus, is there anything better than baby giggles? I can already imagine it as the birthday babe plays peek-a-boo with the surprise lion in the mirror! (Ages 12-36 months)




Gift Tip: Add a small toy like this one to a wrapped present as an extra-special gift-topper.


Lastly, the LeapFrog Dino’s Delightful Day Book is another adorable and affordable gift for a little one’s first birthday that can be enjoyed for years to come. This toy promotes early literacy with a read-aloud story that introduces word and letter sounds in alphabetical order. Along with learning their ABCs, children can count to 10 using the number buttons or switch to musical mode to play along with various melodies. (Ages 12+ months)




Toddler Birthday Gift Guide


Toddlers are eager to mimic the world around them. From caring for their own puppy to acting as a doctor, or chatting on the phone, these gifts are perfect for your toddler’s bursting imagination.



If you know a toddler who has to stop and talk to every dog they see, I guarantee they will love the VTech Let’s Go Rescue Pup. Interactive phrases and sensors that react to petting, feeding, and walking are sure to make a child feel like they have their very own new pet! They can learn puppy care tips and play fun games while also exploring colors and numbers. My daughter loves to attach her doggy to its leash. She also pretends to play fetch with its toy bone or simply walks around the house enjoying the pup’s melodies. (Ages 1.5-4 years old)



Another favorite is the VTech Smart Chart Medical Kit, which includes everything needed for engaging pretend play! Using the healthcare tablet, your future doctor can learn about the human body, explore health tips, and even take part in interactive check-ups where they can help different patients feel better by choosing the right tools for their symptoms. The kit also includes pretend doctor instruments and a doctor dress-up smock to extend play to family members or stuffed animals! (Ages 2-5 years old)



The VTech Touch & Chat Light-Up Phone is another must-have for toddlers who love to pretend! Whether they are making pretend phone calls or tapping through the apps to create on-screen light patterns, your toddler will enjoy playing and learning with the phone’s 70+ songs, melodies, sounds, and phrases. My toddler loves to pack this phone in her little purse, just like mommy, and take it along on our day! (Ages 6+ months)



One last gift I have to add to this age grouping is the VTech Sing It Out Karaoke Microphone because if your toddlers are anything like mine, they’re always ready to put on a show! The mic includes 15 sing-along songs (familiar childhood favorites like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and “Old MacDonald”) as well as 5 silly voice effects that will help to build language skills and confidence as little ones find their own voices! They can even put on their own performance with color-changing lights that flash to the music and an applause button to cheer themselves on. (Ages 2-5 years old)




Preschooler (& Beyond!) Birthday Gift Guide


As kids approach this stage of early childhood, they begin to develop their own interests, are ready for more challenges, and their cognitive development is at an all-time high! For this stage, I like to choose gifts that highlight these new skills and encourage hands-on learning through play.



The VTech Marble Rush Launchpad Set is a recipient of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Accreditation Stamp of Approval by the Toy Association™ and it also got my 6-year-old’s stamp of approval, who is an engineering fanatic. Thecolor-coded building set and easy-to-follow illustrated instructions make building even the coolest and most extreme marble runs frustration-free. Kids can follow one of the leveled guides or build their own designs for endless play! (Ages 4+)


Gift Tip: I like to pre-assemble “big” gifts like this one so that the birthday kiddo can jump right into the fun!


Kids this age are eager to learn, so another great gift is one that will introduce and encourage independent reading and writing skills! The LeapFrog Spinning Lights Letter Ring is a fun learning game that focuses on early reading skills. Sparky the phonics firefly leads kiddos in engaging games of hide and seek as they search for the cute, little light-up bug while listening to letter sounds and building words. (Ages 3+ years old)


The LeapFrog Mr. Pencil’s Scribble & Write is another choice that features six activities and introduces writing, drawing, and spelling. Build fine motor skills by tracing and writing letters, shapes, and numbers on the touch screen using the stylus. My son loves to make the shapes and letters “come alive” by tapping the screen once he’s finished drawing! (Ages 3+ years old)



Finally, the VTech Switch & Go Gorilla Muscle Car is a toy that will ignite your child’s imagination! Its LCD animations and cool sound effects take action-figure play to the next level as it is transformed from a ferocious gorilla to a fast muscle car in a few simple steps. (Ages 4+)



I hope this gift guide helps you find the perfect gift to celebrate the little ones in your life as they grow! Each of these VTech and LeapFrog gifts will provide endless fun while encouraging the development of important skills, all without breaking the bank! The perfect combination for a birthday gift that kids (and adults!) will love!













Jessica Grant highlights a joyful and creative childhood, motherhood, and home through her social media and blog, JessicaEtCetera.com. With a background in preschool education and now a mom to 3 young children, Jessica enjoys sharing all kinds of fun including crafts, DIY, and learning through play with the goal of creating a magical and memorable childhood!



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