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So, I decided a few years ago to stop giving out goody bags at our kid’s birthday parties.  I did it because I was tired of bringing them home from parties and watching our kids lose them or break them in a matter of hours.   I felt bad that parents had spent hard-earned money buying these things for kids that didn’t even take care of them.   Most of the time, the goody-bag treats are fun little toys, but often they break after you have played with it for a few minutes, unfortunately.

A group of colorful gift bags with text above them.

I found some great alternatives.

*At one party, instead of buying cups for the kid’s drink (while they had cake), I used a water bottle.  The kids took these water bottles home.  It was the perfect gift!  (You can buy them at Target in the dollar section or at Party City or you can order tumblers online. )

*At another party I gave out little lunch totes (I bought them on Clearance at Michaels, so they ended up being less than $1.00 per tote and they are awesome!  We use ours all the time!)

*At a pool party that we hosted, I gave out water squirters.  I picked up this party pack of water squirters because it was cheaper than buying them individually and we saved the leftovers for our vacation (because between all of the cousins- there are 9 kids!)

*A friend of mine, Kristy, gave out little bags filled with things from the doctor’s office at her “Doc McStuffins Party”.   Her doctor gave her tounge depressors, those long cotton swabs and she picked up a box of plastic gloves.  She put them into a little doctor bag that they made (like my DIY kid purse) and the kids LOVED it.

*At our son’s most recent party, I gave out a bunch of great products that I knew the parents were going to love as much as the kids (because each of them mean more TIME with each other – read below to see what I mean)

Here is what was in the party bags:goody bag 2

  • The pink lotion that our kids LOVE!  (Our kids ask me for it every night & I know how quickly we go through it!  This is a great way to bond with your kids- lotion them up every night!)
  • A recipe or Baby Powder Play-dough (because spending time with your kids will be more important than giving them THINGS)
  • Baby Powder to make the play dough.
  • BAND-AIDS (Darth Vadar and Peanuts) – this was all of the kid’s favorites!  Take 20 minutes to sit and play doctor with your kids today!
  • Face & hand wipes for kids to keep in the car, although our daughter uses them to clean everything in sight when we are waiting somewhere.   The other day she cleaned every chair at the Best Buy Geek Squad with these wipes!  (ps- I also had a pack out to use before the kids ate the cake at the party)
  • I also threw in a mini squirt gun to use at the party (the kids played in water) and then they could take them home at the end. The parents of our party-goers loved this gift.

goody bag ideas

In the end, my new goal is to either have PRACTICAL goody bags or no goody bags at all.   Birthday parties don’t have to be expensive.    They don’t have to be fancy.  They don’t have to be detailed… they just have to make the birthday boy or girl feel special!

Birthday boy looking at his favorite car on his birthday cake!

So my birthday rule: KISS – Keep It Simple Silly!   I am less stressed and that makes me a happier host & that makes our birthday boy/girl a happier kid!

bee-day party

regift party
M&M Pretzels butons

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I love the Doc McStuffins idea!
    For my son’s 9th birthday party, I bought tons of vintage X-Men and Spiderman comics off ebay for less than 25 cents each. I gave each kid half a dozen comics and a handful of finger lights (huge bags are cheap on Amazon) so they could read comics in bed. Most of the kids had never actually held a comic book — they were so excited!

  2. I am also not a fan of goodie bags. Most times they’re filled with candy. My 3 year old just had her 1st big party at an indoor bounce house place. I gave the kids colorful plastic mason jars filled with tokens! We’ve also given away puzzles, coloring books and crayons at other parties. Same price or cheaper than tons of little junky things.

    1. I love those ideas. They are all really fun & I love that the kids are doing creative things with them, you know!? 🙂

  3. We do a book exchange where everyone brings one wrapped book per child, and the birthday girl/boy picks names out of a hat for who gets to choose the first book, second book, etc. At the end everyone unwraps and can exchange if they want! Everyone gets a new book and no plastic crap to throw away, no candy to throw away!

  4. I hate goodie bags. I hate giving them because I feel like it is a complete waste of money- toys break almost instantly. I also hate my kids bringing them home- we don’t need MORE junk! I started several years ago giving a drink cup from the party store that matches the theme of the party. I know we are always in need of new cups. You can get them for less than $1/cup. If we have a pinata they use the cup to collect the candy. If no pinata, then I put a pack of gummies and a few lollipops or other small candies in them.

  5. I love this idea! I’m all for goodie bags that aren’t full of junk and candy. Last year my daughter had a panda-themed party. I bought a bunch of little tiny stuffed pandas from Oriental Express and then made a box that said “Adopt a Panda.” The kids loved it. The only problem was that I over-ordered and ended up with about seven extra pandas. My daughter didn’t mind too much. 🙂

  6. i have NEVER given a goodie bag at a party. and we dont really have the ability to go to many parties either… haha no friends. that takes a lot of the birthday party stuff right out of the equation. i mean, it feels like i have friends, but they dont put in the time or distance to come see me thats for darn sure. poopy.

    but i dont know if the deep woods of northern minnesota is really the place for goody bags. though i know of people who probably give them, we arent the suburbs or city.. so maybe the pressure is off? and again, no friends, so the pressure is definitly off. hahaha

    yeah this is a great idea! or a coupon to somewhere, like a zoo or something. brilliant! if i ever had any friends at a party, id go for that! HAHA

  7. I like to keep my “goodies” practical or theme related with the party. For my daughter’s art party, kid’s got a pencil bag with a box of crayons (.50 a box) and water colors (1.00 a set). For my son’s car themed party this year each kid will receive a matchbox car and a snack bag of spare tires (4 oreos). I haven’t figured out what the gifts will be for my daughter’s space themed party this year (my soon to be 6 year old is big into astronomy).

  8. I highly recommend my kids favorite, The TickleMe Plant Party Favor. . With it each kid can grow their own TickleMe Plant that will close its leaves and lower it leaves when tickled. A Great way to introduce a child to gardening nature and science. Check out live videos of the plant in action and kits on amazon or on line.

  9. I agree! I like to do a costume piece for dramatic play to go with the theme: ex. pirate hats, or binoculars.
    No one wants he bags of crap;-)