This post on party favor ideas is courtesy of our contributor Chantelle of Dolled Up Design…Opinions always seem to be very divided when it comes to party favors at kids parties. Many parents see it as hassle and unnecessary expense, but it is hard to deny how much kids love them. I personally love picking out the perfect favors and take great joy in sending my guests home with a little token for coming to the party. Loot bags have gotten a bad rap for getting filled with junky plastic items destined for the trash, so I am sharing some of my best ideas for things that will be used and appreciated.
Party Favor Ideas:
Consider Your Party Theme
Since my parties are usually heavily themed, I always like to choose favors that match my party theme. If your child chooses popular licensed characters, there are many inexpensive book and toy options to be had beyond the princess printed plastic tops and bouncy balls in the party store aisles. Or skip the character branding altogether and get foam swords and crowns for a princess party, soccer balls a sports themed party or beach toys and inexpensive towels for a beach party.
Knowing your theme ahead of time also greatly helps so you can watch for items that match your theme and might be on sale. I was able to find these mini hockey sticks on clearance for my son’s Olympic themed party that the kids were excited to play with at the party and take home afterwards.
Incorporate the Favors into the Party Activities
So far I have held most of my children’s parties at home and this usually means trying to come up with activities to keep the kids entertained and happy during the party. To stretch my budget, I usually try to come up with an activity or craft that can serve double duty as activity/entertainment and the party favor my guests take home.
For my daughter’s last My Little Pony themed party, the beaded necklace and bracelet center was a huge hit for the girls and boys alike. The kids loved spelling out their names on the necklaces, and most proudly wore their creations home after the party.
For our princess themed garden party, the guests all made and took home decorated flowerpots they planted their own flower in.
Another idea that worked well for an activity and favor was a scavenger hunt I prepared for my son’s Minecraft themed party. The kids each received a bucket and had a great time following their lists and collecting all the items hidden throughout our house.
Make it Special with Custom Packaging
With the right packaging, you can transform the simplest of items into something special. Break up multi-packs of toys or buy candy in bulk and repackage to keep down party costs.
These chalk ice cream cones made the perfect favours for my ice cream social. They came in packs of three at the Dollar Store and I repackaged them into quantities of 2 in zip top bags that I stapled a custom paper topper to. They look great and no one knew that I saved a bit of money breaking down the original packages of 3.
For my son’s first birthday Rubber Ducky Luau, I repacked Peeps marshmallow candy into snack sized zip top bags with custom toppers. These were very inexpensive to make, and still looked great.
Think beyond the plastic loot bags you find in the party store aisles and come up with a different container to hold your loot. Plastic drinking cups, beach buckets or small tin lunch boxes all work great to hold “loot”. Even the most basic colored paper bag can be dressed up with stickers to match your theme and looks better than the printed plastic bags.
Nice packaging can make a huge difference, and can even work to serve double duty as décor like these small gift bags I strung up on a line at my daughter’s last party. They were customized with name stickers and used to catch all the candy the kids caught from the piñata.
Let the Guests Choose
One happy accident I made for my daughter’s 2nd birthday was not having enough of each type of favor for the little guests. To compensate for this, I decided to pick up a variety of items and offer a favor bar where the kids each got to choose 2 items. The kids loved being able to pick out their favors at the end of the party, and I had a lot of fun watching what each kid chose from the selection of story books, Pez dispensers, hair clips, bags of colored popcorn and beaded bracelet kits.
Similarily, you can’t go wrong with a candy bar. Kids and adults alike love being able to pick and package their own selection of sweets to take home. We are used to seeing candy buffets at large events such as weddings, but it can easily be scaled down as I did for my son’s 3rd birthday.
For those short on time and creativity, consider gift cards. $5 to your child’s favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt shop is a nice thank you for your party guests to enjoy later down the road. Kids love having their own “money” to spend and parents will appreciate you not sending home more sugary treats right after everything they have eaten the day of the party.
Choose Quality over Quantity
I think the biggest complaint parents have about loot bags is that it is just a bunch of little plastic “junk” that gets lost or broken right away. Consider your budget and opt for one bigger ticket item such as a summer toy, nice book or a Beanie Boo stuffed toy. I typically spend about $5-7 per loot bag, so these still keep within budget and are something that might be better appreciated long term.
Still stuck? Here are a few other party favor ideas I love:
Books: Storybooks or coloring books are easy to match to most theme’s and are appreciated by kids and adults alike. Dollar Store’s offer a great selection of books, or grab an inexpensive boxed set from Costco or multi-pack from Scholastic to break up between guests. Tied with a nice ribbon and thank you tag, it is a great gift.
Chalk or Bubbles: For summer parties, sidewalk chalk or bubbles are the perfect favors. Customize a small pail of chalk with a personalized sticker, or tie a “thank you” tag to a bubble wand and that is all you need to send your guests away happy.
Blind Bags: What kid doesn’t love blind bags? Lego minifigures would be a great choice for the older crowd, but it is easy to find blind bags of all shapes and sizes in the toy aisles. These are not something I would normally buy for my kids, so it is a treat when they get one in a loot bag. Watch for sales and they are an easy and affordable option.
Chocolate Surprise Eggs: Just like the blind bags, kids love Kinder Surprise or similar chocolate surprise eggs. We used Thomas the Tank Engine ones for my son’s train themed second birthday party and I have seen everything else from Transformers, Frozen, Cars and Finding Dory.
Play-doh: Divide up a package of store bought Play-doh, or prepare your own in the birthday child’s favorite color. To carry out your theme, pair it with matching cookie cutters like these great dog and bone shaped ones I found for my son’s Go Dog Go themed party.
Puzzles: Costco recently had multi-packs of small licensed character puzzles in tins that would make the perfect party favors. You can find similar at Party City, but not as cheap as the $15 for 20 Costco had. It was a nice mix of boy and girl characters (Frozen, Marvel, Paw Patrol) and I actually ended up buying a set to give my son’s teacher for their reading and behaviour rewards program.
McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys: Did you know you can buy Happy Meal toys on their own without the meal? They often have the most popular movie and TV characters and I find the quality of the toys to be quite good for the price. For my son’s Olympic themed party, I bought a bunch of the small Zamboni toys they had at the time to go with the mini hockey sticks I was giving as favors.
Entertainment Passes: If you are holding your party outside the home, check if your venue offers passes for party favors. We have attended parties at the rec center where my kids have received passes to go back and enjoy the facilities again at another time.
Edible Favors: When in doubt, you can never really go wrong with something edible or easily consumable. Themed sugar cookies, candy kabobs or custom wrapped chocolate bars are all great options that won’t have parents feeling like you are filling their homes with junk.
While party favors are definitely not a necessary part of a child’s birthday party, I think young guests would be pleased as punch to receive any of the suggestions on this list.
We’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Chantelle for sharing all of these creative party favor ideas with us! Her parties & crafts are always easy to recreate and kids love them! Be sure to follow her on Facebook to stay updated on all her fabulous ideas.