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I can’t stand birthday party loot bags! There, I said it, and I won’t take it back.

I’ve embraced that being invited to kid’s birthday parties comes along with the territory of raising a school-age child. Kids love asking one another to come to their party, they enjoy handing out invitations, and hanging out with their friends outside of school. It’s fun and everyone gets to eat cake!

Children blowing bubbles
Show birthday guest appreciation using a little creativity.

But what I’m struggling with is the need to give all attendees a goodie bag filled with… well, rubbish! Do my kids really need more sugary treats after an obscene amount of cake, goodies, and juice? No thanks! I usually toss all the candy before my kid even sees the contents of the bag. Then there are the dollar store toys – many of which either break within the first few uses, get lost, become choking hazards for siblings, and lose their appeal in about 27 minutes. Again, these get pitched within a day or two of the party. And let’s not forget the stickers that usually end up spreading joy on to my car’s interior or my kitchen cabinet doors. The cheap stickers are always a real treat to remove!

It’s time to say goodbye to goodie bags! I understand that you want to show your gratitude to the kids who came to the party and since you’re willing to spend a few dollars per kid, here are some alternatives to consider.

  • A Frisbee, a dodge ball, skipping rope, hula hoop, or any other inexpensive backyard toy that we need to replace each year. Bonus: you’re encouraging physical activity!

  • Combine your parting gift with a craft to complete at the party. I’ve been to parties where my kids bring home a painted mini-canvass, a decorated treasure chest, or a beaded bracelet.

  • Bargain or colouring books are always welcome. All bookstores have reduced priced books made to fly off the shelf.

  • Set up a photo booth – all you need is a digital camera and a printer OR an instant photo camera. Kids can take pics with their besties or solo shots that can also be decorated.

  • Get dirty and plant a flower in a small pot as part of your party activities.

  • Run a card game tournament (Go fish or Crazy 8s) and send home a deck of cards.

  • Other consumable toys you can consider are play-doh, bub-bles, sidewalk chalk, crayons or markers.

Putting a little thought into parting gifts would really help your fellow parents, party guests, and the environment!

As appeared in the July 2018 issue of Mom & Caregiver Magazine

Frank Emanuele DCL Director

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