With three kids, all of whom have birthdays, I find myself dwelling on the party bag conundrum more often than any sane adult should be required to.
Even if you aren't living in competitive mum central, there will still be some expectations placed on you regarding the *ahem* quality of the take home items. Children are the worst critics in some senses, as what they usually want is a plastic bag stuffed with sweets and those cruddy toys that break after a nanosecond, often in the car on the way home. I refuse to waste my money on those bags which usually cost way more than you think they will once its all totted up, and basically embody everything thats bad (IMHO) about modern toxic disposable "kiddy kulture".OK I said it. Phew.
*dusts self off*
*climbs down from soapbox*
Here are 10 ideas which are in no ways wildly environmental or progressive, but might make a nice change for your kids teeth and in some cases, also to your pocket. If you are really savvy, you'll be checking the stores at sale time and getting yourself even more bargainous bargains.....
1. Books. The book is my first weapon of choice as you can buy for almost any age or theme. If you check out the collections and bulk sets at online book retailers such as The Book People or Red House, you will be able to get a lovely book for each child at hugely reduced prices. There are also discount bookshops where similar deals will be available in most larger towns. Wrapping makes it more of a present but isn't vital.
Age = Any
Cost per child = £1
|Jessie Willcox Smith|
2. Playdough. Almost all kids love playdough. For a party bag idea, you can buy bulk packs of small pots or bagged rolls online. A couple of colours and a cutter (also readily available in bulk) inside a paper bag is a cute gift they will get hours of play from. If you want to make it more of a themed gift why not decorate the bag or write a leaflet giving some themed ideas to pop inside?
Age = 3-6
Cost per child = £1.50 approx
3. Cookie Mix. You've seen those cookie mixes in kilner jars in the shops, exorbitantly priced, right? Actually it's an easy thing to put together, you can have your child help you, and it is certainly cute. You will need to include a lable with cooking instructions, but thats where you can theme it etc. We recieved a jar of cookie mix like this, with a cutter tied on with the lable, lovely red polkadot ribbon, Minnie Mouse on the instructions, very sweet.
Age = 3+
Cost per child = £2ish depending on your jar, whether you include a cutter etc
4. Balloon and Cake. Yes, that's right people, just a balloon and a slice of cake. For children under 3, I propose NO party bag. They have had a great/confusing time already. They aren't meant to have sweets, they can't even unwrap them themselves. Give the kid a helium filled balloon on a shiny ribbon and send them home sticky and ready for a nap.
Age = under 3s
Cost per child = cost of balloon
|A very pink cake!|
6. Craft Kit. There is so much available now in bulk from lovely craft shops, that if you are in any way craft inclined you might enjoy putting together a little craft kit. Keep it simple, not everyones mother has 40 hours to assist them with knitting, but otherwise, do what you know best. As with the Cookie Mix, you'll need to provide instructions and also remember to tailor it to your audience. If you like the idea but are short on time, check out online craft stores like Baker Ross or Hobbycraft for good deals on pre-made kits.
Age = 3+
Cost per child = depends, but I've previously snagged kits in the Baker Ross sale that came to less than 75p per child.
7. One themed toy. Like the book, one themed toy is really just striking a blow at the plastic disposable mess usually found in party bags.
If your child is having a jungle, dinosaur or horses themed party then you dont even have to think about this one. You could even display them in a fun way as part of the party decor.
Age = any age
Cost per child = variable. If you buy in bulk, you might get it in under £1.
8. Costumes/hats. This idea is more of a pre rather than post party gift, and has significant cost or time implications, but you could really go to town with this idea! Ideally suited to a character party, the notion here is to create (or purchase...) a costume element for each child.
Pirates - striped bandanna and scar tattoo
Cowboy - neckerchief and sheriff badge
Princess - cone hat and fan
Fairy - wings and wand
Knights - helmet with plume
Age = any age. It works well at adult parties where everyone has 'forgotten' thier costume.
Cost per child = its either £££ or time cost. You decide.