Save on Kid’s Parties: Skip the Goodie Bag comments (3)

By Wendy Mihm | Wednesday December 1, 2010

Our family is on the kids’ birthday party circuit – we get about four invitations a month.  Maybe you’re with me.  And at 90% of these parties, we come home with two colorful bags—one for each kid—full of very small crap.  Here’s a sampling of what is generally to be found in these bags:

  • One Toy Story-themed lead pencil that I must wrestle from my toddler son before he accidentally pokes his own eyes out.
  • A plastic Dora the Explorer ring that makes my daughter cry because it breaks three days later.
  • Stickers of Disney Princesses.
  • A note pad that is so small that no human could ever successfully draw anything on it.
  • Several rubber bands shaped either like Star Wars characters or bugs.
  • A picture of a dog with gigantic eyes that appears to move when you wiggle it up and down or side to side.
  • Temporary tattoos featuring characters from the Disney movie “Cars.”
  • A super ball.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

We threw our first kids’ birthday party when our daughter turned two, and I assembled goodie bags for our guests because I thought I had to.  And I was astounded by how expensive it was.  Not only did the crap inside add up incredibly quickly, the bags themselves were expensive!

By the time our daughter turned three, our son had been born and we’d been around the kids’ birthday party block a few times.  I had come up with some budget kids’ party planning ideas by then.  Idea number one:  skip the goodie bags!

Why?  Because you can.  Really, you can.

We had our daughter’s 3rd birthday party at a swimming pool.  As party favors for each child, we gave out one “splash bomb” to each child.  A splash bomb is just a slick, fabric covered ball that you can play with in the water.  They were inexpensive, the kids had a blast with them at the party, and they took them home afterward.  And do you know what?  Two parents actually thanked me afterward for not sending them home with, and I quote one of them directly, “…a bag of crap.”

When our daughter turned four, we had her party at a local park and played hula-hoop games.  Afterward, each kid got to take home a hula hoop (or two) as their favor.  They loved it!  They loved the games, they loved picking out the color of their hula-hoop, and not a single kid asked about the “missing” goodie bags.  That year, a different parent thanked us for skipping the goodie bags. 

The hula hoops cost me one dollar each at the toy district in downtown Los Angeles.

So as a budget kids’ party planning idea, consider skipping the goodie bags and opting for one signature toy that is representative of the party itself.  The kids will enjoy it, the parents will be grateful, and you could save a bundle.


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Comments for Save on Kid’s Parties: Skip the Goodie Bag
By Bunkie11 on March 25, 2011

I can totally respect wanting to cut out giving junk as favors at birthday parties. I love your idea to give a single, better gift to each child. My new favorite favor idea is to give a personalized item to each guest that they can use over and over again, like a personalized bookmark or placemat (my top 2 faves), bag or luggage tag, or even a zipper pull to put on a jacket or backpack, if you’re trying to keep the cost down. Birthday in a Box has the cutest personalized items and for very reasonable prices; check it out at

By Pippa on March 29, 2011

I recently did a joint birthday party for my 3 year old and his best friend - they don’t need any more toys and we were worried about friends thinking they had to shell out for two gifts. So instead we asked everyone to bring one wrapped gift (costing no more than £3 and ideally less) for a lucky dip. Instead of party bags each child chose a lucky dip present as they left, including our boys. Kids and parents happy, and no excessive gifts for the birthday boys :)

By **Nicole** on March 29, 2011

For my daughter’s 3rd birthday (just last month) I bought the kids each a bottle of bubbles (was like $2.50 for the pack of 8…and they were good size too) and the end of the party we broke them out and they all had a great time, then sent them home. Again, the moms told me thank you! And with bubbles once you’re done with them you can throw the bottle away—no extra clutter!

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