The start of school signals the return of birthday party season. And you gotta love those brave mothers who invite the entire class to the festivities!

But sometimes these en masse parties pose a challenge to find a gift for a child you don't know (and good luck getting a useful answer out of your child, their classmate, who’s probably going to tell you that they AND their friend need MegaMonsterSuperCharged Golf Carts).

So, instead, consider giving gifts that are experiences -- not things.

Gift cards for movies, bowling or miniature golf all make great memories -- and gifts -- without creating clutter!

-- Melissa Kossler Dutton, contributing writer for Columbus Parent