22 March 2006

A better goody bag

Melissa's Blogging Baby post about goody bag garbage (and her creative solutions) got me thinking about the best party favors we've recently gotten or given.

I generally forgo the birthday party goody bag on principle, preferring instead to give kids a balloon or a single toy to take away. Hands-down, the best we've gotten (but, alas, it's not free of small, cluttery parts) was a "surprise ball." The lucky recipient gets to unwrap a crepe-paper ball to reveal an assortment of toys one by one. Luke was entranced -- the actual surprises didn't even matter. Not practical for a large party (unless you have lots of help), but I'd be willing to go for it on a special occasion.

What are your best party favor/goody bag alternatives?

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I try to do a single item instead of a treat bag. We have done coloured plastic cups, foam animal masks, plastic wands and small wrapped dollar store gifts.

For the basketball party we gave small basketballs, for the rocketship party I found bubbles in a rocketship, we painted baseball hats at the baseball party, and for our caterpillar party I gave copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (only two guests). We keep parties small (age or age plus one) so small gifts are affordable. I hate the goody bag!

We had a joint birthday party. A few weeks before the party, the birthday kids produced a bunch of drawings that we scanned, rearranged into a collage, printed out on iron-on-paper, and transferred onto plain t-shirts to hand out at the end of the party.

I hate giving out cheap useless goodies and a bagful of candy.instead, we try and get creative and give take home goodies that go with the party's theme. for ex., this year my daughter had a dance club party for her 9th bday at a place like a nightclub that does parties. so we gave out glow jewelry and at the end each child got a CD that we had made ourselves, full of all my daughters fav. dance music.

for her 8th she had a chocolate party at a candy shop with a tour and they made chocolates. each child got an apron which I had painted thier names on to keep and also they got all the candy they made to take home in a fance candy shop box.

I could write a book so i'll stop here. maybe I will write a book someday all about the parties we have thrown!

My son just had a "spy" birthday party. The guests were all spy cadets at the 'Cracker Jack Spy Academy'. After all the spy tests (games), I had a graduating certificate waiting for them. It had their picture on it, that we took at the beginning of the party with a "Men in Black" look, and a box of Cracker Jacks. They loved it and it was easy and edible.

GeekMom idea: I did a dinosaur birthday party for my kid when she was 5. One of the activities was playing paleontologist and going on a dino hunt.

I hid five bags of dollar store plastic dinos (50 for 1 dollar) all over the yard (some barely buried in the sandbox) and gave the kids small plastic pails (50cents each) and told them to find the dinos. They got to keep the pails of dinos in lieu of goody bags. I kept a few dinos in reserve to "top out" the pails of the kids who ended up short.

My favorite has always been making customized CDs for everyone -- one year, it was 45 minutes of songs about pirates; our Olympics party one that included national anthems and sports-related songs (I strung them on ribbon and they were awarded like medals because hey, they're shiny and round, right?); I made a baseball-themed one for the end-of-season Little League party (that one was fun bc I added in famous baseball *spoken word" stuff like "Who's on First?" and Joe DiMaggio's farewell speech, etc.)

They're super-easy to a make (God bless iTunes) and each CD only costs about $1. Parents are very impressed/pleased; your favor gets used for a long time to come; and you have lovely themed music to play during the party or cake-eating or whatnot. PLUS the
birthday child can help you pick out & arrange the order of songs, etc. so it's a fun activity leading up to the party. No plastic junk, no calories, no splurge -- win-win all around!

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