The goody bag. It's the most dreaded part of the birthday party plan that parents make each year. Plastic bags filled with landfill-bound plastic stuff that you're either going to a) step on in the middle of the night in your bare feet, or b) pull—half-chewed—from the dog's mouth. Candy is no better, especially after all that ice cream and cake.
It's time to think outside the goody bag. With a little creativity, kids can give their guests a small thank you gift that's smart, useful, inexpensive, and fun. Here are a few tips:
Order personalized coloring books for little guests—complete with their name on the cover—and give them with small boxes of crayons or markers. Choose from themes that range from butterflies to rock stars. Try Frecklebox for a fun selection of personalized gifts.
Buy a couple of sets of sidewalk chalk. The fancier kind with lively designs work best. Wrap each in a piece of wax paper, then twist the ends and tie with colorful ribbons.
Buy cans of Play-Doh (even the bigger cans are fairly inexpensive), then have your child draw a picture or write a note thanking his guests for sharing his special day with him. Make several color copies, then cut to size and tape around the outside of the Play-Doh can. Bonus: with a sincere thank you to each guest at party's end, these can double as thank you notes.
Plan a craft that will serve as party activity and take home gift. Construct craft stick picture frames, and let guest decorate with stickers or glitter glue. Snap a picture of each child—possibly with the birthday child—then ask a helper to quickly print them out on your home computer or send them with your thank you note. Tape the picture inside—instant memory keeper!
Spring birthday parties are the perfect time to plant the seeds of creativity. Take the kids outside and provide each with a tiny terra cotta pot. After kids personalize their pot with stickers and markers, let them scoop some dirt into the pot and poke a bean seed into the dirt. Parents looking for a more elaborate gift can upgrade to flowers from a greenhouse.
Dollar coins are interesting to kids, especially in the U.S. where kids are used to paper bills. Give kids each a Presidential $1 coin issued in the year of your child's birth or the year of the party.
Super-creative parents might like this idea: A creepy crawly bug take-out box. Kids can catch bugs and examine them for a few minutes before letting them go again. Give with small magnifying glasses (available at any dollar store) and send kids outside on a bug hunt after cake and ice cream.
Calling all chefs! Throw a cooking party and give guests each plain aprons (available at craft stores). Set them up in the kitchen and show them how to whip up their own batch of monkey bread in disposable pans. Set the bread aside, then send kids home with their aprons (or keep them for next year) and their uncooked bread that they can heat up at home and share with their family.
Creative party favors are possible on any party budget. Share yours with us!
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