Goody Bag Upgrade

Photo by Tara Donne for Parents

I truly love planning my kids’ birthday parties—taking their theme of choice and running with it. But then it comes to the favor part and I am confronted with a personal conundrum—to give plastic junk or to not give plastic junk. I want to be known as the mom who gives killer goody bags, but I hate the idea of sending kids home with junk that’s bound for the land fill.  I’ve tried so many work arounds (such that I could write a weekly column on this topic) and I feel there’s an economical, valuable solution for every single party.

We did some brainstorming and googling to find these ten goody bag alternatives that will thrill beyond the car ride home.

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1. goody bag alternatives, craft favor bag, creative goody bag

Art Bar knows how to keep the fun going after a crafty birthday with a bag full of supplies. Include materials to make a specific project, or a random assortment to encourage creativity. For an added bonus, give the supplies in a muslin bag that can be decorated too!


goody bag soaps, alternative party favors, soap favors, toy soaps

Kids may not be excited about soap but they’ll be eager to reach the prize inside! Homemade soap is a great way to incentivize hand washing, plus you can include toys to match any party theme. Follow the easy how to from Super Make It.



kids cooking party favors, cookie in a jar kit, kids apron

For a cooking birthday buy kid sized aprons in bulk that can be used during and after the party. You can also send guests home with a  jar of ingredients for a favorite treat – just don’t forget to tie on a recipe card! Image via Today’s Parent


birthday party photo booth, birthday party favors, good bag alternatives

photo frame set, party photo frame set

Though we take photos all the time, a printed picture feels likes a prize. Set up a silly photo booth, like this one from Mood Kids, and use a mini printer, such as an instax, for photos. For a more finished feel, slip photos into colorful frames, or have guests decorate frames as a craft activity.



music birthday party favors, kids instruments, kids music birthday

Form a twelve piece orchestra by giving each guest their own instrument. It may take a while before they make beautiful music together, but they’ll have a lot of fun trying! These instruments can be bought as a set from Amazon.


birthday book party favors, alternatives to goody bags, book favors

No matter the theme of the party, a book is a favor both kids and parents will appreciate. To find affordable options, check the discount bin of your local bookstore, buy a set of classics and break them up, or browse


seedling party favor, silly plant party favor, goody bag alternatives

Encourage growing green thumbs with a plant kit – the opposite of a throw-away favor! These hairy examples from Today’s Parent include a mini pot, seedlings, a bag of soil, and of course eye stickers.


bird watching scavenger hunt, scavenger hunt goody bag, nature party favor

A scavenger hunt is the perfect pick for a nature themed party. A treasure hunt, like this one from Nellie Design, doesn’t have to involve toys, kids can use a checklist to mark observations and collect outdoor items.



All mini magicians should be equipped with their own deck of cards. Or split a big box of classic tricks, like these from Becky and Me Toys, and let the party goers practice on each other.


For a truly favor free birthday, share the money you would have spent on goody bags with a charity instead. Let the birthday kid choose a cause they feel strongly about, like a local animal shelter, or consider an organization like The Birthday Party Project, which throws parties for homeless youth. All the party guests can sign a card together.


April 2, 2018| Age, Baby, Birthdays, Early Elementary, Favors, Older Elementary, Parties, Preschool, Toddler