Confession time, y'all. I have a bad mom habit I'm in dire need of breaking. When it comes time to shop for my kid's birthday presents, I overdo it. Every. Darn. Year!
Which is probably why my daughter's bedroom is like a hazardous waste dump. I buy her too much stuff. It's not that I believe in excessive birthday parties; I just never feel like I've gotten her something that is just right, so I keep buying and buying.
Moms, are you with me? This is our problem. We try way too hard to get make things perfect and magical. But when push comes to shove, the best birthday gifts, the ones kids remember the most, aren't always the most expensive or most planned out.
In fact, when The Stir asked folks to come up with the most memorable birthday gifts from childhood, almost every single one was simple! Just take a look:
1. When I woke up on my 6th birthday, my mom said we could do whatever I wanted. I told her I wanted to go to Carowinds, an amusement park near where we lived in North Carolina. We went and rode the rides all day long. Best birthday ever. It wasn't a material gift, but the fun and thrill of how spontaneous the day was.
2. My first Breyer horse. I must have been 7 or 8, because that’s when horse fever struck. My parents couldn’t afford to get me a real horse or even riding lessons, so this was the next best thing for me. I still have it on the shelf of my old room -- the white rearing stallion. Of course, he’s more like a yellow stallion now.
3. My Atari. I wanted it sooo bad and had been clamoring for it for like the entire year.
4. Snuggles Teddy Bear. 'Memba him? I kept seeing him in the commercials and was obsessed. Anyway, my mom tracked him down somehow before the Internet existed. It was awesome.
5. A white stuffed unicorn with a felt floral necklace from Spencer's! My grandparents took me to the mall to choose my own gift -- that's why it was memorable. Typically I got something like a dress from the 1800s or a homemade Cabbage Patch doll, so this was really special!
6. TWO mini bikes on my 13th birthday! My parents did not discuss it with each other! Kept it a big secret from each other!!
7. My memory is a little fuzzy on of it were my birthday or Christmas, but I got games like Connect 4 and HiHo Cherry-o. Memorable because my dad spent a lot of time playing them with me.
8. Birth stone ring from my grandmother. It was hers as a child. I'll always have it and remember her giving it to me.
9. That little tan Fisher-Price tape recorder was awesome. I made so many "shows" and taped off the radio. I was on another planet with that thing.
10. I got a Tree House Tots from Hasbro when I was a toddler. I played with it for YEARS ... it stayed in my mom's attic for 25 years, until she brought it over the ocean a few years ago. And now, guess who's playing with it all the time? My own little Mary, 30 years later, is playing the same set that still has some of my coloring marks and that is still held together with the scotch tape that I wrapped it with.
11. The complete Little House on the Prairie gift set, as I coveted it for months from the JC Penney catalog of all things!
12. My dad was a long haul trucker when I was little. He would be gone at least a week, if not two at a time. I don't think he ever missed a birthday. But I still, to this day, have five or six of the little miniature stuffed animals he would bring home to me on my birthday. Just one, each year, and they may have come from a truck stop as he headed for home, but they are some of my most treasured childhood items and are tucked lovingly away in my cedar chest.
13. I LOVED the show Madeline. I would obsess over it. My grandmother got me a stuffed Madeline doll, and I LOVED it. I took it to kindergarten show and tell, showed it off, carried it everywhere. I think what made it so memorable is that that's the last present I remember getting from her before she died. I still have the doll on my dresser; I'll never get rid of it.
14. My mom used to make us these homemade coupons that were good for things like a day off from school or lunch out with mom or a hug or a kiss. It was really sweet, and I plan on doing the same for my kids when they're old enough.
15. When I was 8, my parents finally let me get my ears pierced.
Really inspires you to think of birthday gifts in a whole new way, doesn't it?
What is YOUR most memorable birthday gift from childhood?
Image via Tim Pannell/Corbis