I can’t tell you exactly what changed, but I know one thing for sure – goody bags filled with plastic and junk are on their way out. Ask any group of parents how they feel and it’s unanimous. Adults strongly dislike them and kids are getting more and more “meh.”
Maybe it’s because our kids are inundated with trinkets from the time they get their first Happy Meal. Maybe it’s because, despite being accused of otherwise by previous generations, we do know the value of the dollar and recognize that a spider ring, a yiny plastic snow globe, and temporary tattoos are a total waste of money. Maybe it’s because kids birthday parties have changed and are just so much cooler than they used to be.
The reason almost doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we, as party-planning parents, stand together as a united front and say we’re done. And we’ll need a commitment on this one because we’re all strong about nixing the goody bags two months out, but two days before the party we start to question the decision.
We worry about potential devastation our child and his guests might feel at the end of the party when there are no bags. It weakens us. Suddenly we’re in the car, on the way to the party store. Two hours and $75 later, we’re putting bags together, mumbling under our breath through every one of them. We’ve all been there.
No more! We need to raise our right hands and hereby, solemnly promise not to fill plastic bags with useless junk that won’t make it out of the backseat cracks of our SUVs and Mini-vans.
None of this means that your little one’s guests will walk away empty-handed. That’s no fun. Let’s just all agree to go with something either useful or meaningful. There are ways to do that with every budget and level (or lack) of creativity.
Here are five ideas for inspiration.
- An edible treat that ties in with the theme. For your son’s Halloween-themed party, give each guest a candied apple. For your daughter’s garden-themed party, make sunflower cut-out cookies to send home. Helpful hint: cake pops and molded chocolate go with any theme. Just be aware of guests’ food allergies and be ready to discuss ingredients with a concerned parent.
- A small gift card. If your little one has a bowling party, why not keep the fun going? Give guests a gift card for a free shoe rental when they return. If there is a local ice cream shop everyone loves, a few dollars towards a cone will make someone very happy!
- A book. What parent doesn’t appreciate an addition to the family’s library? Bonus, if you have a wide age-range on your guest list, you can get books to accommodate their varied reading levels.
- Pieces to a project they can do at home. Craft kits are easy to come by. Whether you’re a DIYer or pick up something pre-packaged, sending a guest home with a cool bracelet or frame to make is fun, productive, and provides a keepsake.
- One bigger item, rather than several small things. If your daughter has a fashion party, send guests home with a pretty hair bow they’ll actually enjoy. If your son has a spy party, give everyone a cool magnifying glass. What kids doesn’t love making almost anything look really big? This type of birthday party favor is less likely to be lost in the shuffle than plastic bracelets and mustaches.
Never, EVER give these items as birthday party favors:
- A pet. If you ever want other parents to speak with you again, do NOT send home a goldfish, hermit crab, and anything else that requires life-sustaining effort on their part. Just trust me on this.
- Unfinished craft projects. If you don’t send the supplies home with your little guests, there’s a good chance the project won’t make it 24 hours before meeting the trash can.
- Anything that makes noise. Again, if you still want friends after this party, don’t send home kazoos, whistles, or maracas of any sort.
- Things that fall apart two seconds into the car ride home. A crash from the sugar high mixed with the newly beloved, and now broken, item will produce tears. Please spare parents from feeling like they have to make a detour to Toys R Us on the way home to help their little one cope.
- Silly string or other items that require tons of clean up. Just don’t.
Goody bags are out, but party favors are still in. Your guests (and their parents) will love you for being thoughtful and choose quality over quantity.