I Ditched the Party Favors. So Can You.

At some point, I decided enough is enough. No more party favors. 

With four young children, each having birthday parties and being invited to many more, it felt like we were trapped in an endless cycle of sending little pieces of junk home with friends and then seeing them returned many times over shortly after an invite landed in my inbox. My kids love going to birthday parties to celebrate their friends and I love having friends over to celebrate my own kids. I even love the planning, deciding on a theme, choosing a cake, and settling on activities. 

But, seeing how quickly party favors were discarded after parties, and knowing how much effort and money went into buying them, I began to wonder what the point of this tradition was and whether it was worth keeping up. Even inexpensive favors added up considering how many needed to be purchased and I cringed thinking of the landfills we were filling with favors that only resulted in a few minutes of joy (if that).

party favors
Image via Unsplash/ S O C I A L . C U T

So, with my daughter's party looming, I told her matter-of-factly that she would have a great birthday party as usual — but with no favors. I explained that I noticed she never kept the favors she got for very long and throwing so many things away wasn't good for the environment. I also told her that her friends were coming to her party to celebrate her big day, have fun, and eat cake. I assured her that her friends would still have fun and love her party.   

She shrugged her shoulders, said “okay” and that was that. In turn, my other kids had no-favor parties and their disappointment upon hearing the news didn't last more than a few seconds since it's such a small part of the overall party. A few children have asked about favors before leaving, but it seems like most of the children don't even notice. For those who did ask, I simply told them that we didn't have favors but I hoped they had a good time at the party. There were never any tears.

A no-goodie bag party doesn't mean even that kids necessarily walk away empty handed. Here are some alternatives to the traditional plastic trinkets and bouncy balls that are so common:

  • A balloon from those used to decorate the party.
  • Do an activity during the party, like a painting or slime making, and have the guests bring their creation home.
  • Another piece of decor from the party, for example, table centerpieces, cake toppers, streamers, etc.  Anything you might otherwise toss could be a treasure to a small guest.
  • If your party has a pinata whatever kids collect can be brought home.
  • Something used during the party. For example, for one party with a Lego theme, I purchased second-hand Legos for kids to build with during the party and they each brought home a handful. For other parties, we gave each child a pirate hat or fairy wings to use during the party and they took them home.
  • If you feel like you must send something new home with your guests, make it edible — like a small snack bag or a wrapped cookie or mini cupcake.
  • Make something that will get used, like homemade lip balm, or buy an inexpensive version. Chalk, bubbles, play-dough, and crayons are other options that will be more likely to get used.  
  • Hold a photo booth and ask another adult to quickly print a photo for each child before the party ends or use an instant camera.  
  • Some parents choose to give favors but try to skip the little plastic trinkets and opt for something like a book from the dollar bin at Target.

If you choose to give out party favors, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Plenty of kids (and adults) like them and appreciate the thought.  But, it's also okay if you decide giving out party favors isn't for you. If you have a goodie-bag alternative let us know!

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I Ditched the Party Favors. So Can You.

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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