Birthday Party Favors
Berkeley Parents Network >
Birthday Party Favors
My son's 2nd birthday is on the horizon, and I'm wondering
(and please, this is a question for those of you who DO
choose to distribute a favor or gift to your party guests -
after combing the BPN archives I see this appears to be a
hot button issue for some) where to draw the line with
party favors. We'll have several guests attending with
their older children (approximately 6 kids) ranging from 5-
11. I don't want them to feel left out when all the
toddlers are getting a toddler-age-appropriate favor, but
I can also see things getting out of hand trying to please
everyone on top of dealing with a 2 year old's general
birthday party insanity. Your thoughts and (constructive)
advice are appreciated.
I Like Party Favors
I personally am not a fan of party favors, but I understand
the appeal. If you're into them, perhaps you could make up
specific bags for each child. I was at a two-yr-old's party
last weekend and my friend (the mom) had done this. She put
toddler-appropriate things in my 3 yr old's bag and ''baby''
stuff in my 15 mo old's bag. There weren't too many ''big
kids'' at the party, but there were a few... One kid as old
as 11. Each kid had a specific bag just for them. I thought
that was a smart idea. Inside ours: plastic rings (both my
girls loved these!), a mini-playdoh container, a sheet of
stickers, etc. Good fun.
/My Two Cents
We give out party favors...but not bags of little things and candy (those annoy
me, personally). What I have tended towards is one thing per kid...things have
ranged from books (esp for 2 year olds...LOVE ''Mr. Sillypants'' if you can find the
paperback version on ebay or Amazon...bought a dozen of them once for about
$2/each or inflatable toys...again you can get them cheap and the kids will play
with them later (so will the older kids)...or you can get little wooden gliders (also
fun for the bigger kids)...
Love to give something that will be used again...
I don't think that you need to worry about getting special
party favors for the older kids. They will be happy getting
the same little toys that the younger kids get. Everyone
loves temporary tatoos, stickers, pencils, bouncing balls,
etc. I would be happy to get a treat bag too!
No need to worry
We have a basket of inexpensive books from TJMAXX or the
like where each guest could pick one as they leave the
party. Parents are happy they're not getting plastic
and/or junk and the kids are super excited! My two boys
are 6 and 8 and we've been doing this for years w/great
Hi. So what I do is just offer the same favor to everyone regardless of age -- the
''older'' kids and the ''younger'' kids too. I figure the older kids can somewhat
understand that they are at a party for a younger child and just sort of deal I
just think it is nice to offer everyone something -- and the parents always seem
touched that we're offering a favor to the ''sibling'' anyway -- but I have no
desire to make myself crazy with trying to ''personalize'' favors.
Favors Are Fun
You might try giving some not too age specific favors. I know that candy/food
favors can be a hot-button for some parents, but I would rather my child get
something they can eat/enjoy rather than some cheap plastic toy that will be
broken shortly after it gets home. Another way to go might be for some more
''classic'' toys like a good bouncy ball (not too small!), a small tub of play-doh,
or a small thing of wikki-stix (http://www.wikkistix.com/). These may not be
the most appropriate for the 2-year olds to play with on their own, but they
could play with them with their parents. Just some thoughts.
Do you mean ''draw the line'' as in ''what age do you stop'' or as in ''amount to
spend per favor''?
Most older kids still like favors, but if they're attending a ''baby party'' they might
not expect them. Some kids will handle that better than others, but that's their
problem/lesson to learn in life - not yours.
I think it's okay not to hand them out to all - but where to cut off is difficult. If
you want to have something handy for older kids, some suggestions: small bag
of cheap candy - as in pinata/Halloween type stuff; bubbles - all kids like
bubbles - and you can get a multi-pack cheap just about anywhere; deck of
cards - can buy bulk online; pencils and erasers - always will be used. All less
than $2 per kid. If you want to go to $3, Sketch ice cream in Temescal does $3
gift cards (Dreyers and Fentons don't go that low).
I like party favors too! I have a three year old and somehow
her birthday parties have all turned into huge parties (over
50 people, usually about 12 are kids). What I've done so far
is select party favors that work well for all ages. For my
daughters second birthday I bought several boxed sets of
Curious George books from Costco (they usually have a good
selection of boxed books at a great price, so each book is
about $1 or $2 each). I let the older kids pick which book
they wanted and for the younger ones the parents picked or I
just handed them one as the left the party. For my
daughter's third birthday party we had a princess theme (her
request) so I got some of the Dover sticker books (only
about $1 each). We had three different types princess,
knight, and fairies. Again I let the older kids pick which
one they wanted. The Dover books come in hundreds of
different varieties. They are cheap and all kids seem to
like them. I love favors and including all of the kids, but
I like to keep it simple. Good luck!
I love favors!
While absolutely not ''required,'' I think it's really nice to
offer a more age appropriate favor to the older kids,
especially if you've set up the party as one to which
families are invited, rather than just the same-age guests.
Now that I have both an older and a younger kid, I can
really empathize with the older kids who, while generally
gracious, really do feel a little left out if they get
dragged to a toddler party and then don't get a prize when
the little ones do. That said, putting lots of time and
money into picking perfect favors for kids at a wide range
of ages is not likely to be worth it! I suggest going to
the dollar store and finding something likely to be fun/
amusing for elementary aged kids, and getting 6 identical
items, one for each of the non-toddler kids. Glow sticks,
''gack'' (slime in a jar), and 3 dimensional puzzles (like
rubics cubes) have been hits for us.
I like party favors too
I came to the conclusion many years ago that one special
favor is the way to go. I have three boys, the oldest who
is 14. I have done gift bags, but realized that all the
money spent on little things could be combined into one
more interesting and less wasteful favor. I have given
small kites, bubble blowers (not bubbles, but a little
powered bubble machine), mini-garden kits, small lego
sets, playground balls, and tickets to play places like
the discovery museum & studio grow. Oriental Trading
company has some deals on items if you buy more, but they
have a lot of junk too. I watch for deals at Target too,
they have lots of Spring stuff right now, they had large
play garden shovels with wooden handles for $3, such a
deal! If your child has something they really like right
now, --planes, trains, dogs, etc -- you could theme the
gift to their party/likes.
East Bay Mom
I have a couple of ideas on party favors. First off keep
it sane. For a 2 YO a $0.50 item will be fine and
they'll get great pleasure out of it. They'll take no
offense I guarantee it. It's OK to draw the line with
older siblings, but I'd suggest doing it for siblings that
are old enough to understand that. If you're
inviting/expecting siblings, just keep the favors simple
enough to get enough for everyone. Check the $1 bin at
target or a small bag of treats. Michaels has some cute
and cheap crafty items. Check places like Big Lots for
Some ideas I've seen:
1) Let the kids pick from a variety of small items. The
host bought items for $2-3 dollars and the kids got to
2) Make the favor an activity at the party. Paint a tote
bag, glue a crafty frame, put stickers on a little box.
We made paving stones with little tiles we had (heaviest
party bag ever!)
3) Kids brought a little wrapped gift (less than $5) and
the kids got to pick one out as their favor. This was in
lieu of gifts.
4) Best idea ever for older kids (not about favors).
Instead of a gift, please donate $5 towards a gift of
their choice. Miss Manners aside, it saves the giver $
and hassle, it avoids gifts that get played with for 5
minutes and thrown away, and the birthday kid gets
something they really want. Also can be a lesson in money
been to too many birthday parties
It'd be lovely to give something to the older kids as
well. I can't remember toddler party favors, but for your
older guests, I'd suggest: a glow-in-the-dark bracelet or
necklace, a balloon to take home, maybe a rice-crispy bar
made by you. They could also play ''pass the lunch-box'' -
big kids sit in a circle, you play music, then turn it off
(like musical chairs) so that each guest has a turn to get
a piece of red licorice from the lunchbox.
I never expect a special party favor when an older (or
younger) sibling is invited to the party. It is sweet
enough of you to invite the siblings & have extra cake and
food for them! And you'd be surprised how much fun a 5
year old can have with a toddler's toy rattle or whatever.
That said, I'm always charmed when the hostess *does* give
an age-appropriate party favor for the siblings. It is a
very sweet thing to do, a nice surprise that will put a
smile on the child & parent's face.
Easy ideas are - a book, a coloring book (well not for the
12 year old), stickers, tattoos. Lego star wars set for a
boy of any age.
Bubble wands! Or some kind of bubbles. They are inexpensive and you can give
them to all ages. Or you can have some kind of craft that the kids make at the
party then get to take home. Or a pB1ata with candy and they take the candy
home. Have fun
The issue that I have with the standard party favors honestly,
is that the goodie bags, though well-intentioned, are just
bags of plastic crap. And pricey crap at that (when you're
making bags for 15 kids).
For my son's 5th birthday party - a very fun Space & Astronaut
theme - I bought 15 white undershirts (from Target for about
$1 each), iron-on transfers from a craft shop, downloaded some
fun space/astronaut/planet clip art and made each guest a t-
shirt. It was a bit of work, for sure. But the kids LOVED the
shirts, got a useful and fun reminder of the party (not a
plastic trinket that'll end up in the landfill) and I get the
pleasure of seeing kids all around town wearing the shirt!
I try to do party favors that are simpler, party-appropriate, but might be
something the kids would actually play with later. So, if the party's at the park,
everybody gets a bucket and shovel ($1.00 at Target that year). The time I had a
Lego party, everyone got a little Lego car or truck ($2.99 I think). Either of these
would be something that the whole age range might like, I think. And I as a
parent like these much better than plastic stuff that breaks within 30 minutes of
getting home, and just ends up in the landfill.
You could have a basket of $1 items - things like hot wheels cars, deck of cards,
stickers, squinkies, japanese erasers, maybe a few candy items, etc, and then let
the older kids pick one item of their choice (or two or three if it suits you). Easy
to cover a variety of age groups that way.
I love giving party favors. Maybe it's the kid in me that likes to find the fun little
things to fill the bags and see the delight on the faces. So, that being said, If I
know there will be a variety of ages at my kid's parties, then I give age
appropriate favors to ALL of them. I never leave anyone out. I'll even have a party
favor bag for the 1 or 2 people who might not RSVP.
I order party favors from Oriental Trading Company when I see them on sale or
Clearance. I have 3 kids so I know they will get used. I keep them in a storage
box and pull them out when it's party time. If I have teens coming, I will usually
put a few things in that they might like (lip balm, little soap, cool pens or
pencils, magnets, hand sanitizer...). They're always pleased to get something.
I may be on the extreme but as I said, I really enjoy giving the little bags and so
do my kids.
Party favor nut
My two cents -- DON'T. Save the earth and don't buy and hand
out more crap. We come home with party favors that last for
a few days and then die in the sofa or different parts of
our home. I try to encourage a no gift giving and getting
policy. There's a huge cost (EARTH cost) associated with
little bits of stuff... and you could help by not adding to it.
Could you do something like an online subscription to a
children's magazine or something like that?
Just my two cents
2 of my most successful party favors were t-shirts (super sale at Old Navy
and cheapesttees.com) and inexpensive paperback books.
Like parties too
Hi fellow parents:
I read all available here in the Berkeley Parents archives, so I
want to get some new and fresh ideas, specially my concern is
that I don't want to create much garbage with my party, and I
want healthy choices as treats.
What have been the best USEFUL favors that you have received?
The best choices for pinata fillers and children food.
I'm hosting a 3yo party, but any other age comment is welcome.
How can I avoid creating so much garbage?
The Party planner
I usually try to give one nicer thing (something in the $3-7
range per kid, depending on how many kids we have) instead of a
bunch of little plasticrappy things. Some examples from parties
we've given or gone to: A sand bucket and shovel plus bubbles;
paint-your-own wooden box or plant pot (done as an activity at
the party); custom tee shirts made with inkjet iron-ons (the
blank tees go on sale for $3 each at Michaels regularly, and I
still see kids wearing these at my kid's school a year later);
personalized craft aprons (also a fun activity for kids to
decorate at party); for a construction-themed party, those
canvas tool aprons -- $1/each -- from Home Depot with a Matchbox
construction truck in the pocket; a set of kid-sized gardening
tools or watering can; plastic bugs and magnifying glasses;
stickers, crayons, playdough and temporary tattoos. It's the
things we can use over and over, or in more than one way, that
we appreciate the most. Things I hate getting: bad candy, toys
so cheap they break right away; whoopee cushions (seriously,
it's happened more than once). As for pinata fillers, check out
Rebecca Emberley's book ''Pinata'' from the library -- it's a
kids' book, but lists all sorts of fun things -- barrettes, toy
cars, rubber balls, etc. to put inside.
I Promise I Won't Judge You By Your Goody Bags
I hate pinata's, especially at a young child's bday party.
Hitting something is not my idea of fun. I hate the candy or as
one mom put in little bible books. I try to give 1 useful thing
(like a book) to each kid.
The worst party favors are those party favor packs that match the
paper-ware and have the weirdest crappy toys.
For favors, you could give out one good toy like
large bouncy ball ..
jump rope ..
match box car
I guess those things could also go in the pinata.
You can also put stickers, plastic animals, those super
compressed wash-cloths that pop up in the water. They usually
have kids motifs on them and they have them at dollar stores.
Oh and mardi-gras type beads.
These are not the most wonderful eco objects in the world but
kids do like them unlike the cardboard and plastic mystery
objects I mentioned at first.
If you have balloons at the party, you can send each child home
with a bunch of helium balloons too.
I would like to advocate for 1) edible party favors or 2) cheap,
breakable throwaway party favors or (3 no party favors. I am on
my third kid, who is now 7. For the past four years, we have been
in the thick of the ''invite everybody in the class'' parties. This
means that this time of year, hardly a weekend goes by without a
birthday party. So, every weekend, we acquire a new load of
trinkets, toys, books, craft sets and more. Sometimes the party
favors are more elaborate than the gift we gave. What do I do
with all this stuff? We must have 200 bouncy balls, 500 little
plastic animals and snakes, and a few dozen ''nice'' favors like
paint sets and models. Our house is already a trash heap of toys
so I am always glad to see a little bag with a couple of pieces
of candy in it, and maybe a cheap little toy like a styrofoam
airplane that will break after a couple of uses and can be thrown
I do have one friend who is very creative with goody bags and I
have to grudgingly hand it to her, even though in general I hate
goody bags. She must spend several weeks planning and collecting
the trinkets for the party favors. Some of the things in her
goody bags have included: soap in the shape of a dinosaur, little
packs of weird tiny cookies from the Japanese market, colored
pencils, a freeze-dried washcloth, cartoon character bandaids.
These are all things that will either be eaten right away, or
that we will use eventually.
As for the pinata - I don't think these are very successful until
you get into the 6 and 7 year olds, and I would go for the
cheapest of the cheap - hard candy and little throwaway plastic
rings and such.
Legos - kids love them - get the bricks so they're easy to find
when the pinata breaks.
for my DD's 3yo party, the pinata had crayons, stickers, mini
inflatable beach balls (6''), bracelets, self-inked mini stamps,
as well as some other small toys I've since forgotten about. I
sat down and thought about what little things my child liked and
then filled the pinata with such things. we did a string-pull
pinata so there were no bashed heads by a swinging bat.
Hi Party Planner,
The best pinata fillers and favors were from a good friend's
party last year for her 3 year old daughter. The pinata was full
of tiny (1'' diameter) play doh canisters, crayons (loose ones, as
if they had bought a box of 128 colors and dumped it in), glitter
pens, stickers, tattoos, and bracelets (the plastic/rubber
friendship ones we used to wear in droves in the 80s like Madonna
a la Like a Virgin). For the favor, they made a CD of their
daughter's favorite songs and the dad (an artist) designed a cool
sleeve for it that said her name and ''3'' on it, but it doesn't
really have to be anything special other than something that is
meaningful to your child and your and/or your child's friends.
This CD is still a favorite in our car!
For my daughter's birthday pinata last year (which occurred
before our friend's, or I would've used some of their ideas!), I
used frutabu's (the organic fruit leathers) and Yummy Earth
lollipops and other healthy treats from WF.
I applaud you for wanting to reduce waste, and while I didn't
want to use anything disposable, I thought my friend did a great
job with fun things that are actually useful that people might
buy anyway (as opposed to flimsy plastic compass-rings,
made-in-China frogs, toxic smelling bouncy-balls or other random
stuff my daughter's gotten at other parties that have absolutely
no use or aesthetic value whatsoever).
Party goer and planner
Fruit leather. Packets of seeds. bottles of glue. mini water
color sets (my girls got these out of a pinata -- I carry them in
my purse and pull them out when the dinner is taking to long to
get to the table at a restaurant...parents will thank you!)
Alternatives to Goodie Bags?
Does anyone have any ideas for alternatives to birthday party
goodie bags? I see the same trinkets over and over. Rarely does
the stuff get played with and it ends up in my junk drawer. I'm
afraid that most parents keep doing them because everyone else
does! I'd love to hear some creative ideas. Help!
Try burning a CD or making tapes. For my daughter's 3rd bday, I
made everyone a copy of the Wizard of Oz because that was the
theme. And now that a lot of computers have CD burners, you can
either mix your own (no comment on how you get the songs) so that
it is appropriate to the theme, or just burn an album.
Small books are good too. My second daughter turns two in a week
and the theme for her party is ladybugs. So I got ladybug board
books for everyone.
Boy, do I feel the same way about ''goody bags''. You didn't
mention how old your kid is. For my 4 year old's parties, I
have just given a balloon to each kid. I think last year we
also gave a bottle of bubbles. Other ideas I've seen and
liked: pail and shovel with each kid's name written on it; glow-
in-the-dark smallish balls; soft yo-yos and balloon. I think
the over-all theme here is one small toy.
About 2 years ago I stopped giving ''goodie bags'' at my kids bd
parties. I tried giving bubbles, one bigger toy, like a dinosaur
or something, but I hated that it was expected and like you
said, it's all the same stuff and either breaks or gets thrown
out. When I was a kid (I'm 50) we got little plastic baskets
with a few pieces of candy at our seat at the table and that was
I! don't know where the ''tradition'' got so out of hand that we
have to spend way too much money on party bags.
Anyway, I just decided I'd hopefully start a trend of no party
bags. I decided I didn't care what other people thought. So far,
no one has said a thing (they're probably thinking ''Go, girl!!'')
and the kids sitll come to my kids parties. Take a stand...NO
I agree. I don't much care for goodie bags, Instead, I figure that if I'd
spend $4-5 for goodies and bag for each child, why not spend that much and get
each child something useful? At my son's party last year I gave out boxes of
crayons and small pads. This year, I gave out flashlights and batteries. The
kids--and parents--seem to be pleased. Oh, and just a tip: look in places
where you might find deals, like Office or Home Depot or Costco.
how about making bookmarks for party guests? we've just
finished making stocking stuffer bookmarks for the holidays. my
son stamped paper with paint stamps, i cut out the shapes and
glued them to heavy duty paper. fun, colorful, useable,
personal and not at all bad for the teeth! have fun!
We have started to give just a single item that goes with the
theme of the party. We have given frisbees, hot wheels,
baseballs. At first I was worried that the children would be
disappointed and I carefully explained that we are giving a gift
instead of a party bag. But the kids were always pleased. This
reinforced for me that this is a much better way to deal with
I like the idea of giving one nicer item rather than a whole
goodie bag. For how much you end up spending on a goodie bag you
could get one fun item. I once gave out small boxes of playmobil
figures. Legos has some small inexpensive items. A small metal
car could be fun. The Ark has wonderful rubber knights that would
work (I have a boy so these are more boy oriented ideas). Kids
really like these too. If it doesn't feel like enough, you could
put it in a goodie bag with some crinkled paper and maybe a small
piece of candy. I go back and forth on what I do depending on
what the theme of my son's birthday is.
A good birthday idea is to do an activity that actuallyl
produces a take home gift that you can substitute for a goody
bag. 2 very successful examples we did were:
Painting and planting a flower pot - I bought plain flower pots,
paints, spray sealer and a flat of flowers and potting soil. The
kids painted their pots and decorated with glue on ''jewels'', and
I sprayed sealer. When they were dry we actually potted a flower
into each pot and the child took home their own personally
decorated flower pot. A few extra games, cake and presents while
the sealer was drying and we had a party.
A second one was having the kids make picture frames from
popsicle sticks. I also bought an old puzzle at the goodwill
store and the kids decorated their frames with the puzzle
pieces. We sprayed the frames with gold glitter spray
paint/sealer (I thought I had bought solid gold paint, but ! it
was a sealer with glitter - actually turned out much better as
you could see the colors of the puzzle pieces.) We had a
poloroid camera and each child took a picture with the birthday
girl, we inserted the picture in the frame and they had a
beautiful keepsake to take home. We did this for my daughter's
6th birthday, she is now 13 and her friends still have these
displayed in their rooms.
You can get all the supplies at a craft store or the fabric
stores with craft sections.
About those goodie bags - First of all, you don't have to do
them. We've been to parties where they didn't give out anything
and the kids were fine about it. If you do want to, I vote for
small useful items. Art supplies are great. We found sets of
marking pens at IKEA for 50 cents each (yes!) and went to the
Depot (on San Pablo, one block south of Ashby) and found small
message pads of paper for 10 cents each. They were ''preowned''
but looked brand new. Each kid got one set of pens and one pad
of paper. Total cost: 60 cents per kid.
As a parent, I have to say I am weary of the bags of useless
plastic gizmos that my kid looks at once. I toss them out after
a few weeks and feel sad about it because I know a mom or dad
went to some effort and expense to buy them. But I can'! t keep a
lot of useless stuff around!
Last year for my daughter's birthday we bought book packs from
the Scholastic Book Club through her preschool, broke up the
book packs and gave each child a book. In addition to giving
something a little more useful than the usual trinkets it
supported her preschool!
My boys and I were invited to a birthday party earlier this
summer. The goody bags were the best! (Minus the whistles of
course.) I believe the grandmother may have gone to Big Lots
for some of the items. One thing that my boys loved, to this
very day they still listen to a CD from Gymboree, the folk one
with Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, The Birds and a bunch of other
folks I can't recall of the top of my head. You could find any
children's CD at any music store of course and burn them on
blank CDs for the goody bag. I also found some neat pencil boxes
(whi! ch might be better than those plastic baggies that get throw
away), for less than a $1.00 at Food Max several months ago. The
boxes already had designs on them and my five-year-old calls it
his treasure box. Big Lots always has really inexpensive
coloring books or folders too. Stickers are always a classic
favorite plus pencils, a box of the original box of crayons and
erasers(I know my kids use them for their homework and school
work.) Crayola also makes this box of markers that are actually
stamps, one marker per kid is always fun, plus little snack bag
of Teddy Grahams or Cheese Nips is always fun instead of the
I DETEST goodie bags! Now that that is said and done, this
year I tried something different for my daughter's birthday.
We had a pony at her party, which was a picnic. I took a
polaroid of each child on the pony, then as a craft ac! tivity, we
made frames out of tongue depressor sticks, decorated
them with stickers, and put the pictures in the frame for the
children to take home. We had lots of fun snack foods,
some cake, then sent them on their way. I can't stand the
commercialism that our kids are drenched with! This year, I
gave my kids the option of having a picnic type party with
whoever they wanted to invite or a small, fun activity (like a
movie or ceramic place) with 2 friends. If she picks the
former and invites anyone her heart desires, that partry is
her gift and we ask people to bring donations to an animal
shelter or homeless shelter, juvenile hall, or ...? If she
chooses the latter, she may receive a gift from the 2 friends.
I know that this is against the ''norms'' of our society today,
but we are hoping to take a stand and maybe effect some
change in the process! Good luck!
I used a suggestion from this site and at my daughter's third birthday
asked children to bring a wrapped book to trade at the end of the
The book was instead of a gift (my daughter has tons of stuff) and the
traditional goodie bag. (Note: it's a good idea to have a few extra
wrapped books--a few famiies forgot!) If you want your child to get
presents, you could still buy inexpensive paperback books to give the
guests instead (Pegasus is a good place to pick up remaindered books).
Another thing I've done is to buy larger items when they're on sale
bought a bunch of 12-inch ''four-square' rubber balls when they were
75% off at Target, buckets of chalk from Ikea, 4-packs of Playdough on
sale) and let the kids pick one when they leave.
When my son was young (1-5) and the parties we! re smaller, I
handpicked paperback books for each child. This year, he was 8
and the party included his whole class, so books were too
expensive. I went to the ''dollar store'' and found large packs of
colored pencils, colored building sticks (like popsicle sticks),
modeling clay and glitter, and even the brown bags which my son
decorated with each kids name. Each child got a couple of each
item in various colors, and the whole thing cost $12 for 18 kids!
I've always disliked goodie bags too, and over the years did a
few things to avoid them. One thing is to have a treasure hunt
(or peanut hunt or Snickers hunt) as part of the birthday
activities and buy cheap flashlights and let the kids keep those
as party favors. Then when my son was five I had a pirate party
for him and the kids, after a treasure hunt, found a treasure
chest full of bandanas, eyepatches! , and ''hooks'' and got to keep
those. So you get the idea, tie whatever gift you give to a
party activity. I've heard of the idea of having the kids
decorate aprons, for a girl's party, and then taking those home.
We made t-shirts for my son's birthday party, using special paper
for inkjet printers that can be ironed on fabric. We used
clip-art for the front, and put each child's name on the back.
They were very popular, and the kids still wear them months
later. Other years, we've let the kids design their own t-shirt,
with fabric markers and fabric crayons. You can buy cheap white
t-shirts in multipacks.
Other crafy options: have the kids make something, like paint a
birdhouse or other wooden object, or use permanent markers and
stickers to decorate plastic light-switch plates.
Or have the birthday child select music for a CD, and burn copies
of the CD to give out as favors.
There are a lot of good ideas at www.birthdaypartyideas.com.
I agree with the traditional goodie bags being junk! Our kids
usually take one look and lose interest. What we have done for
many years now is to find a toy or book that goes along with
the party theme to give as a ''goodbye gift'' (Gets the kids out
the door at the appropriate time!). For instance, we gave
Barbie's for a Barbie party; water toys for a water party; and
Wizard of Oz books for a Wizard of Oz party. Our next birthday
party is coming up in a few weeks, and since it is a ''Glamour
Party'', we're giving out cosmetic bags with make-up (all bought
in inexpensive lots on eBay). Each and every one of these
ideas was less expensive than those darn goodie bags!
! i have a business, goodiebags, that specializes in kids' party planning
and favors. this service is for the parent that does not want the mass-
merchandised ''bob the builder'' or ''barbie'' theme, but a little more
creative and personal. i would love to meet with you, if you would like
see my portfolio of work and see if it might be something that you
be interested in.
I too detest those goodie bags. My kids always want to give them
because they are used to getting them but I've put my foot down
since b-day #1. As a matter of fact, we have so many of those
trashy toys that I did a carnival theme this year for my son's
5th birthday and gave out all that crap as prizes for the games.
That way they got out of my house! My kids were ok with it
because we have a rule that every birthday and every Ch! ristmas
we clear out old stuff to make room for the new.
Instead of the goodie bags I've done numerous things. Usually
I'll have *one* small favor to give to the kids that goes along
with my theme. For the carnival party, I made huge batches of
playdough and gave each kids a chuck of two different colors
along with the recipe. Last year we gave wooden train whistles
for the train party. One year we had beautiful big colorful
pinwheels for a garden party. My mom made beautiful small cloth
and bead purses for the princess party. Kites of course for the
kite party. You get the idea!
Instead of goodie bags, we plan birthday parties that have an
art project as the theme. That way the kids can take home
something they made. We've painted flower pots; taken polaroid
photos and decorated cardboard picture frames; and, for little
ones, made and decorated crowns.
I am so with you...and beyond! I am on a mission to ELIMINATE
the goodie bag idea in my circle. I think it has gotten way out
of control since it doesn't seem optional and it feels rather
competetive. My understanding of it the phenomenon is that
people didn't want guests to feel badly while the bday kid was
opening gifts. To which I have 2 responses. First of all, I have
yet to be at a bday party where the presents were opened in the
presence of the other kids. And second, isn't it a gift to learn
that sometimes you GIVE presents to others and on our special
day we GET gifts?! It seems to me that we are setting up our
children to EXPECT some kind of goodie bag at every party they
attend. Not to mention makes more work for parents, who I'm
guessing have better things to do with mental energy and $$ than
worrying about goodie bags. I think getting to do fun stuff at a
party and having cake/ice cream or whatever bday tradition
happens is PLENTY.
What about doing an art project that kids get to leave with--
handprinting shirts, making candles, picture frame, etc. Which
obviously depends on where you'll be and the ages of kids.
goodie bag grouch
Why not try a book exchange? Every child brings a new, wrapped
book, every child goes home with a new book. Everyone gets a
present, so everyone is happy. And, not only do you not have to
worry about goodie bags, you also don't have a house full of $10
toys you don't need/want and you don't have to write thank you
I have many fond memories as a child of receiving very 'precious' items
goody bags at parties. I now see my 2 year old daughter receive them
things I consider complete junk, she loves and can play with for quite
time, many times over. In fact, some of these items have come in handy
occupy her while we are waiting in line at the grocery store, at the
house for dinner, or sitting in the car on the way to here or there. I
see the big deal with just tossing the uninteresting ones in the
the back of your child). Try to remember when you were a kid and how
saw things. Small toys can really spark a kids imagination, get them
with other kids at the party, and bring back good memories of a great
our favorite goody to receive has been at a friend who burns a
CD of mixed favorite kids' and dancing music (the child does it
all herself), then burns copies for everybody (and plays it at
the party too!)(Thanks Rose!)
others: flower/seed packets to plant, something the kids make at
the party, or we had a tea party and gave real porcelain teacups
as the favor (assorted from thrift stores)if we had been more
organized could have also given a wrapped tea bag with it.
Golden dollars (easiest to get from post office machine as
change) might be neat, too though they'd probably prefer
B-day is coming up and I hate to give out candies... I cannot afford
toys, any ideas???
Instead of filling goodie bags, I stuffed small favors
into balloons and blew them up with this prize inside.
Had a huge barrel of
balloons at the start of the party. I explained that
every so often I'd ring
a bell or blow a whistle, and each kid could then come
and pop a balloon (I
had a pushpin available to help), get the prize, and put
it in his or her
goodie bag, which I'd strung up with clothespins on a
rope nearby. Some of
the prizes were too big or too hard to fit into a
balloon, in which case I
put in a note that said the kid could go over to another
special basket and
choose a toy from that. I used a manual balloon pumper
and plastic balloon
ties to cut down on the work. It was a bit of a job, but
two kids told their
moms this was the best bday party they'd ever attended!
Keep party favors simple too. A friend of mine calls
those favor bags
"kiddy litter", and I agree. Instead of giving kids bags
full of little
useless things, consider instead giving them one thing,
to the party theme. For example, a tea party or dress-up
favor could be
a little dress-up hat or tiara or string of pearls.
paraphenalia. Or some face paints, finger paints, water
markers. We recently went to a party where the favors
were candy and
toothbrush and toothpaste. The kids thought it was
I have some ideas for you for party favors for little kids that are inexpensive:
Mr. Mopps in North Berkeley has shelves and shelves of 10 cent & 50 cent toys.
Chinatown is also a great place to pick up stuff.
decorated pencils (you can buy a pack of them)
pretend jewelery (plastic rings, bracelets, etc)
bandaids with pictures on them (my kids always liked these!)
buy a box of gummy fruit snacks, each kid gets a package
balloons they can blow up later
little rubber spiders, snakes, insects, etc.
buy a pad of fake money notepads, give each kid a few
buy a pack of plastic combs at the grocery store
this page was last updated: Sep 23, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network