It's no secret that most parents HATE goody bags. We hate receiving them, and we especially hate having to sneak around days later, collecting piles of cheap toys to toss in the trash. The good news is that there are tons of affordable solutions that won't leave guests buried in heaps of one-off junk. Below is a list of items we've found that will wow your guests, and earn their keep.
1. Geodes – Geodes are naturally occurring rocks with hollow cavities inside. When cracked open, they'll reveal crystals that have grown along the interior walls. Geodes make the perfect addition to any party favor bag because they serve as a learning opportunity, and can be returned to the earth when finished. They sell small, affordable geodes in packs of 25, that can be taken home and smash open using household tools. Make sure you print your own instructions, or make a copy of the ones that come in the package for your guests. You can bundle those instructions to the rock with twine, a bit of tape, or place them inside a small, drawstring bag.
2. Plants – There are so many ways you can go about doing this, and no matter what you choose it’s a winning situation. Succulents are widely available in bulk online, or you can even make your own little bundle. When making your own bundle, we recommend including a terra-cotta pot they can paint, along with a seed packet full of wildflowers. Many companies also sell pencils you can plant, and EcoPartyTime even sells some amazing seed bombs. As an added precaution, you may want to include a printed sheet with some watering guidelines. Kids tend to be overzealous at first, and over-watering does happen to be the number one killer of house plants.
3. Little Readers – There are TONS of affordable staged readers and Little Golden Books available. The variety of topics is truly astounding, and both companies publish stories with popular cartoon characters staring in the leading role. If you have the budget for it, you can even check out the Amazon and Barnes and Noble award winners. Either way, you’re doing us a public service, and parents will be thrilled to see their little one reading.
4. DIY Toys - Individually packaged craft kits are a big hit, especially when they double as toys. Our favorite party favor packs are these DIY cork boats. They're even packaged in biodegradable plastic to reduce the environmental impact. Ink and Trinket Kids also sells individually packaged bead pets, wooden robot dolls to paint, rustic wood slice ornament kits, and other fun party crafts. You can't go wrong!
5. Mini Coloring Books – I’ve rarely met a child that doesn’t enjoy coloring (at least on occasion). They sell tons of multi-packs of miniature coloring books for a a fair price. They’re also biodegradable and recyclable, which reduces the environmental impact. On behalf of parents everywhere, I am going to recommend you pay the teeny bit extra for Crayola Crayons. We all know those other brands aren’t as well made, and end up in the trash almost immediately. You can buy a classroom pack or just the regular 64 count box and split them up amongst the kids. Drawstring bags are available for a pretty low cost, or you can tie the crayons together using twine or yarn.
6. Bath Bombs – All kids bathe, and all kids love to have fizzy, colorful bath water. Crayola (and tons of other companies) sell multi-packs of bath bombs that you can distribute amongst your guests. If you wanted to go all out, you could even purchase bath bombs with a surprise hidden inside!
7. Sidewalk Chalk – Sidewalk chalk is one of those items that all kids use, and nobody ever has enough to go around. Surely, there is some sort of chalk goblin that comes around each day and eats from your chalk bucket. The one disadvantage is the dust, but it’s easy to work around. Simply, wrap the chalk up in some scraps of left-over wrapping paper, and it doubles as surprise gift that guests will be eager to open.
8. Card Games – There are TONS of different card games available for children, and many are available at the dollar store. They also sell multi-packs of various card games, all with kid-friendly art that breathes new life into the classics.
9. Scavenger Hunts - By now you probably know that I LOVE to promote anything that gets children connected with the outdoors. There are tons of online resources to help you with this, but one of our all-time favorites are outdoor scavenger hunts. They can be as simple as you like, are easy to make yourself, and are widely available online. All it takes is a printer and a piece of card-stock. Laminate it if you’re feeling generous. Either way, it’ll be a ton of fun.
10. Mini Masterpieces – Most major craft retailers sell professional canvas in bulk packaging for very affordable rates. Add a couple paint strips, and you’ve given some lucky children the gift of art. You’d be surprised at how few children have ever painted on actual canvas, and if you’ve ever read the book Because by Mo Willems, you’ll understand just how important that is for a budding artist. (I’m sure this goes without saying, but if you haven’t already check it out, Because is one of our favorite children’s books and can be borrowed from most local libraries for FREE).
11. Kites - When kites are in season, they are available EVERYWHERE for a very affordable rate. They are often made from plastic, which is unfortunate, but they do encourage kids to get outside and get connected with nature. They can also be used to teach kids about wind currents!
12. Birdhouses - We love helping out our little creature friends, and we want to share that love of nature with our children. You can purchase unfinished birdhouses quite affordably. They're perfect because they double as both a craft project, and a learning experience. It's a great way to get children involved with nature, and will help breath some lives to the backyard as well.
Do you have additional ideas you'd like to see added to the list? Leave a comment below, and we'll check them out.