“As far as I can tell, there’s nothing ‘good’ about that goodie bag…”
We were leaving a pizza-arcade birthday party and overheard a grandma say this to her grandson on their way out. My husband and I couldn’t help but laugh. We’ve thought the same thing at least a dozen times since our oldest son hit the birthday party circuit. He thinks the goodie bag is usually a waste of money, while I tend to be more concerned about safety and their environmental impact.
Most party favor bags are filled with – for lack of a more politically correct word – junk. The last one our boys received had a glitter-sticky-hand, plastic lips that whistle, a sheet of tattoos, a bouncy ball, a toy dinosaur, a tiny plastic jug of bubbles, and a squishy rubber ducky. Everything was from China… talk about increasing a party’s environmental footprint.
And these plastics are not exactly the kind you want anywhere near your child’s mouth.
I’m not judging.
I’ve given out a shovel and pail full of plastic fish back when a certain Nemo-loving toddler turned three. When you stop to think about it…. What is the goal of the goodie bag? As parents, we want to thank the children who came to celebrate our child’s special day (and their parents for bringing them).
But sometimes we fall into “more is better” thinking. Nobody thinks twice when party favors break or end up at the bottom of the toy box. In fact, that’s what we expect them to do.
I recently heard a mom talking about how her own children treat junky toys in a rough manner. But when she gives them a handmade item or something precious like a seashell, they instinctively treat it like a treasure.
So if there’s no way you could forego the goodie bag, here’s how to create a green party favor kids will love.
Host an Activity Party
Experience parties can make not only a memory, but often your child leaves with something they helped create. Even if there’s nothing to bring home, you can take pictures of each child participating in the activity and have them printed or framed as the favor.
- Pottery party – children can bring home their work of art
- Visit your local animal shelter to donate time, food, or toys
- Tour a botanical garden – take seeds to plant at home
- Tie Dye T-shirt party – use natural vegetable dyes (red cabbage for blue, onion for yellow, spinach for green)
- Tour your local fire station
- Volunteer for a park or beach clean up
Give Books as Party Favors
One of the simplest favors to give is a book. You can often find $1 or $2 books at discount stores. Or if your child’s school participates in Scholastic, you can buy multi-packs and split them up. To make it more personal, use anlabel and have your child draw a picture or write a brief note of thanks to their friend.
Crayons, markers, or eco-friendly paints and play-dough are favors that encourage a child’s creativity. Get creative yourself and decorate an empty vegetable can to use instead of a goodie bag. Or use a small metal pail that kids can use to store small toys or other art supplies.Acorn Cap Necklace by Green Planet Parties
Sustainable Favors from Local or Green Companies
If you’re not into DIY party favors, you can still have an eco-savvy birthday party. Find something special at a local shop. New online sources like Green Planet Parties have made just about every step sustainable, with even some Fair Trade items to fill your eco-friendly goodie bag.