Do Your Kid’s Party a Favor: Don’t Do Goody Bags!

Party favors

I don’t know who came up with the idea to hand out goody bags at the end of kids’ birthday parties, but I kind of hate them. Well, I “hate their behavior.” Nah, I pretty much hate ‘em.

I know! Let’s hand out bags that never bio-degrade and probably choke birds or sea otters or something, and fill them with toys made from plastic so thin and brittle they break before the child gets to the car! Bonus points if they’re filled with bubbles or gummy candy!

Of course, I too have been guilty of buying disposable themed bags and plastic toys from Oriental Trading Co. or Diddam’s, because I felt it was expected, and that’s part of the problem. My friends have actually had kids ask, “Where’s my goody bag?” Kid, I just threw a big party and let you come, you oughtta be thanking ME right now.

Besides the sense of entitlement it teaches our kids, the toys aren’t even durable enough to donate to another family. Candy is just as bad. Zach has cupcakes every other week because of some classmate’s birthday; he doesn’t need any more sugar; thank you very much.

It’s fine to offer a memento, but it’s really not necessary. Neither is bringing a gift. I love when families put “No gifts” on their invites. I’m going to do that for the kid’s birthday party this year. Zach’s earning an allowance now and can buy his own toys. Kaylee has more toys than she knows what to do with. Sometimes it’s nice just to make a homemade card, and if you must, you can always slip in a $3 or $5 gift card to Starbucks or Target.

But what if you really, really want to offer a party favor? Here are some great suggestions I got from readers:

A craft or T-shirt
You can have the kids tie-dye a shirt, decorate a mug or tile, assemble a paper craft, or decorate cupcakes. It provides a fun activity during the party too!

One friend said she went to a party where her family got a Polaroid photo, taken at the party, to put into a frame they decorated there.

Cake toppers
I served cup cakes last year and put butterfly rings on some of them and rubber dinosaurs on others. The kids got to choose which favor they wanted, plus they got to take home one balloon.

Easy reader books or puzzles
Paperback easy reader books and puzzles can cost as little as $4 each, which is reasonable if you don’t have too many guests. You can also ask each family to bring a used book or a used puzzle, and do an exchange so every kid gets a “new to them” book or puzzle.

It can be nice to have a ritual to help the kids leave the party, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate, expensive, or fill each other’s houses with stuff none of us needs or wants. The best gift any of us can give is friendship and making time to get together.

What kinds of party favors do you give out?

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