Birthday Party Survival Guide

September 17, 2013    |    By +
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Surviving Kids PartyWhen my children open a birthday party invitation, they jump up and down with anticipation and glee. I put on a fake smile and wonder how we are going to fit this event into an already packed weekend and what birthday gift we can buy that a) the birthday boy or girl really wants and b) he or she doesn’t already have. I then procrastinate and become that parent — the one madly dashing to buy a gift en route to pretty much every birthday party. This means wails of “Mom, we’ll be late!” in the check out aisle, too many generic gifts and, of course, the old standby: the impersonal gift card. There’s got to be something better, right?

During one party in particular, I found myself self-medicating with a chardonnay-filled plastic red cup as I watched tiny bodies jump in the bounce house. I bit my tongue (and sat on my hands) as the piñata stick waved wildly into the line of waiting children, and I silently begged that the party favors would have anything but candy after seeing the voluminous streaks of cake frosting in my children’s hair. Then, while opening our gift, the guest of honor’s faced morphed into a puzzled expression. All I could think was that my kids will never again be invited to another birthday party. A part of me thought “maybe that’s not such a bad thing!” But most of all I really just wanted a magic genie who could help me find the perfect gift, every time.

I found my gift genie when I stumbled upon the Personality Profiler on Now I answer a few age and personality questions about the birthday boy or girl and voila! — dozens of hand-picked gifts based on the child’s age and personality appear.

Our birthday party this weekend is for a 3-year-old boy who loves reading and asks questions to infinity. He’s a Wiz Kid, based on the Personality Profiler. I was torn between the Playskool Alphie Data Bots Deci-Bot  ($29.95) and the Super-Duper Sharks Pop-up Book ($18.78). (I bought both—I’m on a roll, what can I say?)

deci botSuper Duper Sharks Pop-Up Book

And for the 7-year-old girl who turns every napkin into an art canvas and hairbrush into a microphone? I decided to let this Creative Thinker unleash her artistic impulses with a Seedling Make Your Own Snow Globe ($28).


The Personalized Silver Necklace ($29.95) is so cute (and trendy) that the Girly Girl in my life forgot she was 12 for a moment and stopped texting long enough to hug me like she did when she was 5.


With birthday season kicking into high gear now that school has started, I’m counting on the ESPN Swimming Challenge ($36.99) to help All-Star Athletes turn any pool into a swimming competition.


Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am actually beginning to enjoy shopping for kids birthday gifts—and am psyched when the birthday boys and girls feel extra special too. Watch out Christmas: here I come!

Meet our newest blogger, Jennifer Benson

When Jennifer Benson is not wrangling three spirited children, she can usually be found wrangling words. Preferably from a coffee shop, though the kitchen island is the next best place since the day fifth grade homework took over her office. She’s an avid hiker and walker who picked up the pace this year and took up running. With a half marathon under her belt, what began as a forced activity has surprisingly become more of a necessity. This is good since rumor has it that every six-mile run burns off a whole bottle of wine.


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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.