February 15, 2011

Party Favors

I made a very stupid mistake eight years ago when my oldest child was about four years old and had just attended his first children's birthday party. He wanted a similar party for his own birthday. I said, "Those are expensive, and a lot of trouble. Maybe when you turn ten." I forgot that I was talking to a child who, if he does not become a successful trial attorney and support us richly in our old age, will have to redeem himself in some other way that makes his legalistic, argumentative, "But didn't YOU say..." personality worth it to have brought unharmed to adulthood. And so anyway when he turned ten he had a party at one of those places with a claw machine and skee ball and air hockey and so forth. Whew! THAT'S over with!

Sadly, I had forgotten the other four children.

Yes, yes, I realize I could say I had changed my mind or that it hadn't worked out or that life wasn't fair or WHATEVS, and I DO say such things quite often, but this is an idea the kids are soooooo excited about, and also I'd say nine-tenths of my reluctance is pure social anxiety (the other one-tenth is a mix of "dislike of other people's children" and "OMG THE COST"), and also I think it's nice for them to each get to have ONE big fun-location party per childhood, and also it gives me a fast answer every OTHER year ("No, only for the tenth birthday"), and so anyway I'm sticking to this, despite advising everyone I know to avoid making similar commitments because OMG I HATE THIS SO MUCH AND I HAVE TO DO IT FIVE TIMES.

Anyway. William's ten-year party is coming up. We have booked one of those places where the site shows photos of children who look so unpleasantly out of control, I can't IMAGINE any parent seeing the photos and then going on to book a party there. Nevertheless, we have done so.

The party may include up to fifteen children, including the Birthday Child. My first layer of agitation is the sending of invitations and the anticipated Total Lack of RSVPing. And they REALLY MUST RSVP (ideally via email), because the party costs the same if fewer than fifteen children come, and so BY GUM WE ARE HAVING FIFTEEN CHILDREN THERE, and so if some kids can't come we need time to invite other children. So I'm all pre-agitated about THAT, because I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of encountering an RSVP situation, but if not, you would not BELIEVE how few people RSVP. I mean, you'd think, "Well, of course a FEW inconsiderate ungracious ill-mannered wolf-raised PINEHOLES won't RSVP, but even _I_ can make a few follow-up phone calls, no big!" And then when you are calling EVERY SINGLE PERSON you sent an invitation to, you will start to wonder why you didn't just call them to invite them in the first place, since at least then it would have been a HAPPY phone call and you wouldn't have had to deal with the fuss and expense of the paper invitations and stamps.

But what I'm working on NOW is party favors. And goodness, I could drop $50 on party favors and have fifteen frankly-pitiful favor bags. And I would like NOT to do either of the halves of that sentence. And yet I DO want favor bags, because I don't know about other people's kids, but those are my kids' favorite parts of the parties they go to, which makes me wonder if we should just have a party where people arrive, eat cake, and collect bags. Maybe we could skip the cake. Maybe we could just mail them the bags.

Question one, then, is "What would be cool to put in a favor bag for fourth graders (a mix of boys and girls)?"

And question two is "Where should I buy the stuff, if my goals are 'not spending $50' and 'not having to buy two 12-packs in order to get fifteen of something'?"


And if your answer is "Well, WE try to AVOID bringing a bunch of CHEAP CRAP into OUR house," I would point out that this answers neither question one nor question two, and also that perhaps you'd like to work on that tone of voice so as not to be quite so off-putting.

91 comments:

Linda said...

We are planning one of those horrible parties for E and L's 7th birthday in May. They've been to 3 or 4 this school year and I have promised them SO MANY OTHER THINGS if they would let go of the birthday party idea, but NO. So I am researching places that are less horrible than others.

I eagerly await the knowledge of your readers.

Jayme said...

I always avoid candy as much as possible, and try to do things that are at least semi useful- like fun pencils, shaped erasers, etc. At least they can use them for homework, muhahahaha

Elizabeth said...

Okay, this doesn't really answer your question, but we just went to a party where instead of a favor bag, each kid got an envelope with a card decorated by the birthday girl that said "Thank you for coming to my party" in it and held a $2 gift certificate to Baskin Robbins. It was a nice treat for all of us to go for ice cream, my daughter got the fun of "paying" for her ice cream herself, and I didn't have a bunch of plastic crap brought into my house.

Otherwise, one of my friends always gets a bunch of stuff from Oriental Trading Company for doing favor bags.

Jenni said...

we don't do favors, and I have no clue what 10 y.o.'s like, but I ditto Oriental Trading Company. All of the parties Oscar has been to this year have had a ton of stuff from them.

Mika said...

Hallmark stores near me sell "tattoo booklets" from doverpublications.com. 1.50 each. Also candy is a big hit. Chocolate coins, blowpops, little fruitsnack bags. Cute crayons and little activity books Good luck!

Jenny Grace said...

SillyBandz
Glow sticks
Those balsa wood airplane gliders
Candy
Bouncy balls
Pixie sticks
Fake teeth (preferable gross ones)
Chinese finger traps
Fake tattoos
Silly putty
Pop rocks
Ring pops

Nik-Nak said...

For our last birthday party I hit up the dollar store for packs of bouncy ball, small containers of bubbles, a few silly bands and small decks of playing cards. I tied it all up in cellophane bags and put pretty ribbons around the twistie tie to make it decorative. The kids loved the ball and bubbles the best. Hope that helps.

Amanda said...

I posed your question to my resident fourth grader and his response was:

Candy
Action figure type thing
Pencils
Little keychain games

Not sure that's helpful

I'd second the ice cream gc suggestion

Nowheymama said...

Do one 'bigger' item. We gave Mario Bros. sports bottles ($2.99/bottle) two birthdays ago and I *still* see neighborhood kids--boys and girls--using them.

Heather @Critter Chronicles said...

Earlier today I was talking with the moms of some of the kids in my son's sports class and one of them mentioned she hands out balloons instead of party favors. Which I'm just now realizing probably isn't as exciting for a 10-year-old as for a 4-year-old, but it DOES eliminate much of the "stuff" getting sent home, as well as the cost.

I purchased a bunch of little things at Walmart in the dollar section next to the party favors aisle because they were cheaper than anything I could find at Target. Generally I avoid Walmart like the plague.

Dawn said...

I am the opposite of Jayme. I prefer to skew the contents toward candy/snacks, because *I* hate the piles of cheap crap and don't want to foist them on others.
We hit the dollar store (or the Target $1 aisle!) for 1-2 sizable items per kid (football cards, magic sets, pencils, bead necklaces, glow bracelets, playing cards) and then add temporary tattoos and a few fun-size candy bars and/or suckers.

Nowheymama said...

P.S. They were from Celebrate Express.

Kitty said...

Hm. For my 9th birthday, my mom had the bright idea of sending home planted crocus bulbs as party favors. These were insanely popular. Kids kept coming up to me in school and telling me, "My bulb has leaves!" "My bulb has a bud!" "My bulb has TWO AWESOME FLOWERS!!" I know living presents are usually frowned upon as a burden to the recipient's parents, but these were basically disposable - they bloom with minimal care, they die back, they get thrown away or planted in the yard. And pretty much everyone loved them.

Also, are you familiar with production coils? It's that string of streamers that magicians pull out of their mouths. Search "mouth coils" on Amazon - you should be able to find them for about a dollar each with shipping. My cousins (ages 10 and 11) practically crapped themselves over these things.

Temerity Jane said...

I have nothing useful to say at all, but wish to tell you how much I REALLY APPRECIATE a well done "cutting off at the pass" of snotty commenters.

You know I love that. Well done. Excellent cutting off. At the pass.

Marie Green said...

I made a big batch of homemade playdo once, divided it up into smallish baggies and included a cookie cutter with each one... but that seems a bit YOUNG for 4th graders... what about buying a couple packs of plastic Easter eggs and making homemade silly putty? (You know that corn starch and [ingredient I can't remember right now] mixed together?) Or maybe a post-it note pad for each kid (I think I saw 3 pack in the $1 bin at Target) with a pack of gum taped to them? EVERYONE loves post-its and gum.

Hmmm. If I think of anything else, I'll come back.

Marie Green said...

Oh! But candy is cheap! A couple kinds of candy in a baggie with maybe one "other" thing... like a pencil? Or the silly putty (mentioned above)? I think consumable might be the way to go!

Or microwave popcorn packs! Or packs of hot chocolate! Or! I DON'T KNOW! (I had another idea but it's gone!)

Anne said...

Kids LOVE junk toys. I'm afraid it might end up being more than $50, but if you can find a way to do it cheaply, t-shirts commemorating the birthday child are usually a big hit too. I also love the ice cream gc and plant ideas.

Carmen said...

I know nothing of 10 year olds, so this idea may be completely useless, but do they still colour with crayons? If you have tons of crayon bits lying around, you could chop them up, mix them up & melt them into fun shaped molds (e.g. IKEA-style silicone ice cube trays - hearts, fish, flowers, LEGO bricks). Then they'd have fun crayons to use.

Also, I love you for many reasons, not the least of which is your ability to politely tell people to shut up if they have nothing useful to add. To echo Temerity Jane: "Well done."

deanna said...

I agree with the comment above... instead of a dozen $0.25 items, go for one $2 or $3 item.

I don't know much about boys (or 10-year-olds), but maybe take something that he interested in and pick a related gift to share with his friends. If he loves music, he could give a a mixed CD. If loves comics, a copy of his favorite comic book. If he loves art, a craft kit or a small notepad + pen.

Anonymous said...

I agree with doing one bigger item. I went to the dollar store for my son's 10th birthday, and got a 100 piece puzzle for each kid. I wrapped them like a birthday present, but the tag said "Thanks for coming to my party." I've also done it with cool looking water bottles.

A friend of mine did gift cards to an ice cream shop- that was also a big hit.

Good luck! These parties are draining, and I am so happy when they are done!

hobbychanger said...

Silly Bandz. Still super popular and you get approximately 20 of them for like $3.

Laura @The Diniwilks said...

For my 10th birthday, my mom bought a bunch of cheap T-shirts and we all painted whatever we wanted on them. It was a huge hit, but might not work for the type of party you had planned. I think Jenny Grace's list sounded spot on.

Dawn said...

I just re-read what I wrote, and I am sorry my comment didn't come off as I intended it. I didn't mean to come across as one of the snarky "no cheap crap" commenters you didn't want to hear from. I really only said that as an illustration of the reason I prefer giving candy -- for its disposable-ness.
I was trying to help, not be nasty, and I hope I did answer both of your questions somewhat helpfully despite my poor phrasing. I'm sorry. (Hence the reason I don't have a blog. Imagine how many people I could unintentionally offend *that* way.)

Anne said...

I have bought party favors from Oriental Trading Company (http://www.orientaltrading.com)
Most of their stuff comes in bigger packs than 15, but it is so cheap it almost doesn't matter. 47 whistles for $3.99! You can just give three to each kid.

Also, I remember buying single-item party favors at Party City type stores, if you have any of those near you.

Melissa Haworth said...

I usually do cookies/baked goods in a bag with ribbon for favors. Not sure if that's good for 10 year olds but cheap!

And then I had a really, really great idea but I'm at work and had to do a work thing and now I forgot. I'll come back if I remember. Useful, no?

d e v a n said...

They make little single serve size bags of popcorn, add a pencil or candy and it could work.

Last birthday party we threw, I made cake balls and those were the party favors. Cookies would also work.

Otherwise, Oriental trading has cheap stuff in bigger lots.

Melissa Haworth said...

Oh! Remembered! A CD! We went to a party where the b-day girl made a "mix tape" cd of her favorite music. Probably total copyright infringement but super cheap/fun/personal/age appropriate.

Oh, and it was tied to a balloon but that was for 5 year olds :)

Dr. Maureen said...

I don't know anything about 10 year olds either, but I'm loving the ice cream gift card ideas. That, combined with one, maybe two, top-shelf fun-sized candy bars (like Snickers or Milky-Ways) would be great, I think. I know that as a mom, I'd rather my kid have two pieces of candy so I can get the whole "Can I have candy? Can I have candy? Can I have candy?" thing over with quickly, and as a 10 year old, I'm pretty sure I'd rather have two fun-size Snickers than a whole bag full of cheap candy, and it seems like the cost would be the same. I feel like you could do $3 ice cream coupons and two candy bars for 15 kids for... wait. Just the ice cream is almost $50. Maybe skip the ice cream and do silly bandz. Maybe I should shut up because I'm not helping at all.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

See if you can buy tickets/tokens. whatever is the currency for the games & give everyone a bag with $2 worth at the start of the party. Nothing to take home, no food allergies to worry about, less than $30 and immediately useful.

But we are not a big 'goodie bag' culture around here. Once some of us dropped the bag ball, most others dropped it as well.

Jessica said...

YoYo's and a trick book!

Sonia said...

OK, it was for my son's 6th birthday, but it was a hit with the older sibs who tagged along: one of the plastic red & white popcorn containers from the $1 at Target, filled with a bag of microwave popcorn, a juice box, and a baggie of gummie bears, for each kid.

Other things from the $1 or party favor section at Target:
*mini mad libs,
*those little plant thingies where you rehydrate the dirt in the mini-pot, then put in seeds
*glow sticks
*glow in the dark puzzles

Lucy said...

silly bands would be a staple in a favor bag for that age for sure. and candy...they just love CANDY.
*sigh*

Suzanne said...

I *JUST* came from Target, where they are changing out most of their birthday party aisle so a lot of the cheap plastic crap is on clearance. I don't know if 10 year olds like glow necklaces and yoyos and all that stuff but you could go for quantity (5 minutes of fun for each of 10 different items) over quality (20 minutes of fun for 1 or 2 items) and still be better off.

I've ordered stuff from Oriental Trading for every party I've thrown (and in fact have a full cart there right now that I need to go finish paying for) and while it is great stuff you do have to order 50-100 of each thing. Maybe you could just save some of it for the next birthday kid?

VHMPrincess said...

$5 videos from Target. Target also has all kinds of bakugan crap on clearance this week. CANDY. Juicy fruit and bubble yum and pixie sticks - they will love you.

Swistle said...

Dawn- Ha ha! Laughed AUDIBLY!

qwanty said...

Your expensive kid party place doesn't provide party favors? What in holy hell? Anyhoo, some points to consider:

a) most of the party favors we get never make it into the house. But then again, we're unorganized asshats.

b) most everything you can buy for a party favor is utterly useless (and will be misplaced/forgotten about/etc.) unless it's edible.

c) The dollar store often features dollar (or two for a dollar!) bits of awesome that can be the basis of a party favor. I bought $1 Spongebob mugs for my daughter's eighth birthday and I filled them with something totally unmemorable. Her 15 year old friends are still telling me how rad they were.

d) Damn you, stop fretting about pointless shit. Your pretty head doesn't need to fritter about this stuff. You can be wildly hungover, in need of an emergency root canal, and handing out pixie stix and the kids will still have fun. Deep breath, sister.

CARRIE said...

We had N's 6th birthday at one of those gym places (a friend owns it), and it was wonderful. I figure each kid can have one at age 6, and then we'll see.....but we only have 3 kids.

I'm too lazy to read all the comments, so someone has likely mentioned this, but can't you buy big bags of whatnot at Oriental Trading for relatively cheap?

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

I suggest evite for the invitation, addressed to the parents, obviously. It takes a bit of the fun out for the kids, but lots of our friends are doing it. You can make it seem like evite is badgering for a reply, not you!! Also, I like the idea of one bigish thing for the goodie bag instead of lots of things, like a nice pack or markers or something, wraped with a ribbon and a balloon attached or something. OR Target often had packs of glow bracelets in the $1 aisle, which every kid I know goes crazy for. GOOD LUCK!

Beth Fish said...

I try to go for a single party favor rather than favor bags. Mia's party this year was a pool party and the kids got stainless steel water bottles I got on clearance for $1 a piece plus a pair of goggles I got $1 for 3 at Target. I've seen beach towels, inner tubes, and just attended an ice cream party where the mother ordered bowls and spoons from Oriental Trading company and then rinsed them and the kids each took one home. If you can think of some one thing that fits a general theme for your party and find a super deal on it, you can do it on the cheap and make kids and parents happy.

Gina said...

You are SO not overreacting about the RSVPing. SO few people RSVP for kids parties these days and it is my #1 pet peeve. I always end up having to prepare for the full amount and less come and I have wasted a buttload of money. I don't get people.

Oriental Trader is always a good bet for treat bag stuff.

Siera said...

You'd think one of those expensive party places would have that included in the fee! I mean isn't the whole point of paying such a costly fee is so you DON’T have to do the work??? Call em up and ask if they include party favors. I can’t offer any advice as I am wondering the same thing for my soon to be 3 YO birthday party.

andreaunplugged said...

I like the ice cream gift card idea too. But what if you did something like this...

http://crookedhouse.typepad.com/crookedhouse/2011/02/lukes-lollipop-photo-valentines.html

It could be a "thank you for coming to my party" card instead of a valentine, and you could find some fun yummy lollipops.

I'm all about consumable favors.

Nicole said...

Dislike of other people's children - hee!

I wish I could help, but party favours are my nemesis.

Guinevere said...

I like the homemade plan, because that is a way to get more for less money while avoiding any snide cheap crap comments. :)

I LOVE the DIY remelted crayons. They can be so so pretty.

For candy, I would hit up costco and get some enormous tin of whatever and then split it.

Also, I love the bulb plan. Planting a bulb is pretty low effort, as are wildflower seeds that can just be scattered, or the ones built into paper that you can just shove underground.

I remember in elementary school I was into spy stuff, a very gender neutral pursuit, and I think it could be fun to make invisible ink and include a magnifying glass and craft some other components, or find on cheap. (Disguise with a super-silly fake moustache and a crazy thrift store tie? I built an enormous crazy tie collection from salvation army sales and it was rare to spend more than 50c on one.)

I would generally hit the thrift stores to try to find cool unusual stuff on the cheap. For example, mismatched teacups for little girls could be the vehicle for putting candy into, to go with a teaparty-esque theme. One could make spoon bracelets out of flatware?

Sam said...

If I could throw a party without the horror of impending RSVP'ing disaster I would be a happier person. And I usually talk myself into believing that I can call (HAHAHA on the PHONE THAT I HATE) and ask people if they haven't RSVP'd yet. But there is not enough xanax in the world to make that possible, at least not while still be able to parent small children. I loath throwing parties.

Emily said...

Perhaps you could put favors into a smallish Ziploc bag, or wrap items with tissue paper to add bulk. Fewer things look like more = 4-5 reasonably priced items look like OMGSOMUCHSTUFF! Win all around!

el-e-e said...

Am totally doing the ice cream gift cards for KT's party of 3 yr olds this weekend. Thank you, Swistle Nation!

barb. said...

We've only done one of those types of parties, and it was at the kids' karate school -- and they took care of the invitations (and cake and pizza) for me. It was a party that included a bunch of nine year olds, so I did a mix for the party bags. I hit up the $1 section at Target for pencils, little notepads, etc. Then I got a bag of Willy Wonka candy (Nerds, Sweettarts, etc) that were small in size and peanut-allergy-friendly (since my son's best friend is allergic to peanuts, and loooooooves Laffy Taffy). It was a hit with the kids. (And I really cannot recommend the karate party enough -- if you find a good place -- the kids had a ton of fun and there was no unpleasantness).

el-e-e said...

Also, I love that you do the party at ten years old ONLY. Brilliant!

Caitlin said...

I don't have kids (uh, as you know Swistle) but for some reason I sat here and read all the comments and man, I know it must be stressful as the parent but how awesome were party favors?! I want some party favors!! I am turning 30 this year, and now I want to give out goodie bags. My friends will be expecting perhaps a bottle of beer in their brown paper bag but LO! They will have mini candy bars and silly bandz and, and...and a bulb growing in a Sponge Bob mug with a mix tape (er, CD) and a giftcard for ice cream!

Thanks for this trip down memory lane.

Caitlin said...

BTW, one of my favorite party favors ever as a kid was in 4th grade when one girl had a party at her house and her mom bought a ton of cheap little nail polish bottles. We all picked a color, painted our nails with it, and then got to take it home! (That was the same party where I guessed the correct number of jelly beans in the jar and got to take THOSE home too so, you know, best party ever.)

Tuck that under your hat for Elizabeth.

Christina said...

Oriental Trading Company has a lot of party favors. They even have pre-made up bags/boxes that you can purchase in a set amount per cost per bag kind of deal. Boys and girls, different ages, themes, etc. That's what I'd do.

Or start scouting out Target clearance sections now and just stack up on weird little trinket things and divide amongst bags when the time comes.

Dala said...

One quick warning about Oriental Trading Company. If you're thinking of noise-makers, be warned. I just ordered five different kinds from them (lip whistles, kazoos, whizzers, bird whistles, and a couple of harmonicas). I do not exaggerate here -- about three per package of twelve worked. The rest were just trash. I was extremely disappointed. But that's the only things I ordered from them. I'm sure they probably sell things that work since other people are recommending them. Their prices are certainly nice. Just beware of the noise-making category.

If you're wondering why on earth I wanted five kinds of noise makers it is actually for speech-therapy purposes.

Chaya said...

For 8 year olds i just did tin buckets from the dollar section, stickers (from a bigger package separated), mini highlighters, rubber lizards, and erasers. oh and councy balls. all from target, birthday kid picked with my vetoing expensive stuff. Everything came in pack of a bunch, other than the buckets, which my daughter liked b\c they were reusable. didn't add up to 50, but it was fewer kids. And the tin buckets made it feel less like it would all be rolling around the bottom of everyones van before they even got home. Although, sometimes it is useful for me having random junk rolling around the bottom of my van...

Hotch Potchery said...

I just wanted to say that Mr. P bought a bag if plastic sea creatures and decorated my (41st) birthday table with them and the guests picked ones they liked to take.

Favors know no age limit!

Good luck with your choices.

distracted by genius said...

I threw my husband a 5th grade themed birthday party when he turned 34 (cause we're nerds, I guess) and I did favor bags with bouncy balls, pencils, temporary tattoos and candy.

mrspooley said...

How about things you might already have at home but might be extra special to someone else?

juice boxes
individual applesauce containers
extra glow sticks from Halloween
stickers
split up a bucket of sidewalk chalk (new of course)

(I'm still thinking...)

Banana said...

Oh man, the lack of RSVPing kills me! I work in events and people don't RSVP or they wait until the very last moment to RSVP for MOST events. It is oh so annoying and makes it very hard to do things like order food and reserve the appropriate amount of tables. I feel your pain! (and sorry, I don't have any great favor ideas... although maybe fun hair clips for the girls and...pirate patches for the boys? I don't know what the hair clip equivalent is for boys..)

Swistle said...

Quanty- Trust me, if I could flip a switch on that part of my personality, I would. (But then what would I write about?)

Kim said...

I don't know if this would work for 10 year olds, but I thought I'd throw it out if anyone else was reading it. Last year I was able to find big containers of foam stickers (letters, fun shapes, and rectangles for bases) for really cheap at Michael's (maybe $3 or $4?). I bought a boy set and a girl set, then divided them into bags for each child. Everyone had a bag with several of the rectangles, a big handful of the shapes, and then I pulled out the letters they would need to spell their names and some other words (princess, sweet, go team, etc.). That part took a little while, but maybe your other kids could help sort and earn a treat or something. But it was nice to have kind of a substantial item in their goody bags, and the kids and parents all thought they were pretty neat. Good luck! Kim

Penny said...

for my son's fourth birthday we made cookies to put in treat bags along with a magnet we made a zazzle. We take a yearly picture of my son wearing his birthday hat and holding a homemade number of how ever many years old he is and put it on something cheap at zazzle...You could do mugs or magnets or pen's or something. They are fun to make!

I stress out over it every year wondering if the parents are judgeing me if it is too much/not enough....

Anonymous said...

I'm no help on goodie bags, but I've got an RSVP idea.

When I write the invites, I give a phone number and an email address for RSVPing. This prevents people from feeling like they have to talk to you about why their kid isn't coming and enables them to RSVP at whatever hour of the day they think of it. (No "oh, I keep forgetting to call you until it's 3am!" excuses.)

I also give a date to RSVP by. This date is always several days before I really need to to know.

Then I call to follow up. And although I, like you, tend to avoid the use of the phone as much as possible, these phone calls I can make. Because by then I'm mad, and I can be evil and enjoy making the other parent feel guilty for not RSVPing by saying: "I'm calling to find out if Susie is coming to the party, because I really have to give the location a final head count and I asked for RSVP's by 3 days ago. Did you not get the invitation? Bless your heart."

Then again, I'm in the South, where people feel guilty about not RSVPing and we all know what "bless your heart" means. :)

Omaha Mama said...

I'll never forget the year that I went to get treat bags for our 1st child's 1st birthday. I spent $75 in the party supply store just on those treat bags and was completely shocked! Because I had almost nothing.

One year we handed out those gross fake teeth and took a group picture with them and it was really funny and the kids (which happened to be a wide age range) thought it was hilarious. It was a great birthday memory too.

Gum and candy are great....with one novelty item. You can fancy it up with curly ribbon to make it look fancy. A printed note on cardstock (thanks for coming to my party!) from the kid tied to the ribbon is even one notch above that!

Good luck!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

The perfect, hysterical tone of this post had me in stitches! Thanks for that!

I have no suggestions though I like the idea of consumables. I'll be anxiously awaiting further posts on this subject!

Lisa said...

I have nothing useful to add about party favors, but just wanted to say I totally get the "ack, I want nothing to do with throwing a party" and I hope it goes smoothly and everyone rsvps.

Sara said...

I, too, use Oriental Trading and hit the dollar spot at Target. For my 6 yr olds bday last month, I handed out candy, fruit snacks, pencils, a ruler, dinosaur stamps (which we also used as a party activity) and silly bandz. They seemed pretty happy! I don't know what a 10 year old would like, but I'm sure the candy and silly bandz would still work.
I love the idea of the ice cream gift cert, as well.

Chez Bacon said...

A warning about Oriental Trading- their shipping is slow, and the expedited shipping is pricey! I flounced right off their website when I discovered that I had to pay $16 to ship my pile of crap and then spent the next week driving to every party and craft store in a 10 mile radius trying to get what I needed. So order early, is what I am saying.
Also, Michael's usually has little tubes of glow sticks, 10 or 15 for a dollar. Three or four glow sticks a kid came to a lot of fun and almost no money.

saly said...

I don’t have a lot of experience with the goodie bags. Bud has had a few “friend” parties because his birthday is in the middle of the winter and he doesn’t get the huge park party like the girls’ do in the summer. (It won’t be much longer ‘til Lucy picks up on the injustice of that one, I am sure) Anyway, all but one of his parties provided goodie bags for me…which, um, SCORE! The one that didn’t I gave juice boxes, cookies, pencils and paper. Of course, that was for a bunch of 4-year-olds but you get the idea.

I love that Baskin Robins idea. I know Friendly’s sells coupons for free kids cones too OR the books for $5 that gives you 3 free kids meal coupons. Friendly’s is a big winner for all of my kids.

saly said...

Oh! The other thing I meant to say is that we were just at a birthday party and all the goodie bag junk was not in a bag, but in those metal character buckets from the $1 section at Target. My kids already had a few of those where they keep silly bands and other random crap on their dressers.

LoriD said...

You have lots of good ideas here. For my daughter's 10th birthday in December, I did a version of this:

http://brownpaper--packages.blogspot.com/2010/12/snowman-soup.html

It was inexpensive and the kids (and parents) were quite impressed!

Sarah said...

I have no ideas but I loved that last sentence. I laughed out loud. Cheap plastic crap, indeed. But how they love it! I think I could pitch all the kids' actual toys and just leave them broken pieces and old McDonalds toys and they'd be happy.

Leeann said...

In the name of honesty, let me first tell you I am biting back a "cheap plastic crap" comment.

That being said, we started doing this several years ago and it has been a hit with both the party child and the attendees:

We go to the grocery store and buy one of those super large chocolate bars per attendee. I'm talking the really big ones- maybe a pound each? They have Hershey's one and Symphony ones..

Then the party child cuts thick strips of construction paper, wraps it around the width of the bar, tapes it and decorates each one, thanking the attendee for coming to his party.

Then the candy bars are handed out as the kids are leaving. Their eyes bug out and they are so excited by this giant candy bar.

Inexpensive, fun, and (I have to say it) not stupid plastic crap!

bunnyslippers said...

One year my friend made favours for the kids for the same reason.

She bought those little 'chinese takeout' boxes from a craft store and put four pieces homemade 'candy sushi'inside (you take a fruit roll up, spread it with a layer of soft rice crispy square and put a piece of twizzlers or gummy worm or gummy fish and sliced like sushi--if you google it you come up with a million hits). The kids loved it (especially the kid with peanut allergies) and the overall cost was low. Consumable, cheap, easy (relatively), and no plastic crap!

Misty said...

So, maybe not for this time, but do your kids get those cool Scholastic book order forms? Frequently there are books for $1. I think that would make a really neat party favor. Just get a bunch of gender neutral titles.

I would also encourage a Dollar Tree excursion. It doesn't have to be cheap crap. Pencils and hand sharpeners and punching balloons and cute notepads. What's not to love?

Misty said...

PS The gift certificate for ice cream and the mixed CD and the giant chocolate bars are all AWESOME IDEAS.

What a creative bunch you all are. Love.

Maggie said...

The ice cream GC idea is inspired - I am SO doing that for my son's next party. This year, after a conversation with another mom commiserating about how much we hate the tons of little toys in the gift bags because neither of our kids will ever get rid of them and they are taking over our homes, I decided we were just going to give the guests one larger cool toy.

My son is turning 8 on Saturday and we are giving the guests one hex bug each. They are all the rage with 8 YO boys and although they cost $7/bug, it always seems like I end up spending nearly that much in small crap every year anyway. Maybe it will be a disaster, but am going to give it a try and hope for the best. Next year though I'm using the GC idea!

kakaty said...

As a parent I really like the bags with useful consumables. I've seen this for younger kids but I would imagine that this might also work for a 10 year old...

2-3 cool pencils (the foil-wrapped kind you get from OTC - even if you have lots of extras I'd imagine that they'd get used in the months to come). Some sort of treat that the birthday kid helped make... is his favorite cookie chocolate chip? Help him make a batch (you can do way ahead of time and freeze), wrap 2 cookies in cellophane and tie with a ribbon. You can even tie the pencils to the cello bag and you're done. You could even attach a little pre-printed note that William dictates ("thanks for coming to my party blah blah blah") and hand-signs.

Jodie said...

We've been doing the parties at other places since the girls started school. SInce my birthday is the same day--I think win/win--I don't have to entertain other people's children and the kids get a party. We are planning a party now too so I was glad to read the comments. There are some great tips here--I'm doing an RSVP by date on the invite (my past experience has been if I don't hear from them, they aren't coming), and I'm thinking of one big treat instead of a goodie bag.....

kakaty said...

sorry for the 2nd comment but I LOVE the idea ComfyMom~Stacey had about providing an extra $3 in tokens at the start. Get them early, put them in cello bags with a note and pass them out as the kids come in! Nothing to take home! Nothing to have extras of! Reduces fretting about kids not having enough $ for games at the party!

Fiona Picklebottom said...

Ten is one of the very few years we allow for a birthday party as well, and this year my second child turned 10. I have to say I was completely dumbfounded that EVERY SINGLE PERSON except one RSVPed and on time, no less. Total shock. I realize that that is one for the record books, but maybe you'll be as unexpectedly surprised as I was.

Shannon said...

Maybe this will not be helpful at all for party favour suggestions, but I have attempted to give one larger thing instead of a bag of crappy little things. When we did a back yard paddling pool party we gave a pool noodle. Or we've done a hula hoop for each kid. You can get them pretty cheap. Of course those are not appropriate for 10 year olds. But perhaps it would help to think of a $5 item for a ten year old rather than many small items? Even if it was a big giant chocolate bar for each of them? Those king sized chocolate bars are still cheaper than $5 each. Hmm...;don't know. It's a hard one and I feel your pain! And especially on the rsvp thing! Why are people so tragically impolite when it comes to that? These days, with email, it's sooo easy! Why can't they be bothered???

Shannon said...

We did a mix CD for each kid - took a little time and I had to make sure the songs were the clean version, but they LOVED them!

St said...

Phew! Could not get through all those comments! I buy plastic cups from the party store, at this age it's usually something Disneyesque. Then add stuff from the dollar spot that I split up plus one or two treats. Pencils, erasers, stickers, plastic animals and little notepads have served me well and for 15 kids would run $20-30 total. But I have NO CLUE what you do for bigger kids. Maybe a download code for a song or game at a $ a pop?

Mama (Stacy) said...

Have your kid create a mix CD. Put all his favorite songs on it. Write Birthday Mix on the CD and put in an envelope. You can get 100 blank CDs for about 15 bucks (or less). Then you never have to buy another party favor ever again!

I also like the idea on one big item. We are doing train whistles for my son's train birthday. For my daughter's birthday we did a craft and everyone took home what they made. But my kiddos are still small, once music is cool to them it is Birthday Mixes FTW.

Jennifer said...

Am saving these comments for my upcoming 5 and 3 year old birthday parties this year. Tons of great ideas!

ixBeths said...

I hate, with a dark fire in my breast, more than anything else in the known universe, children's birthday parties - and specifically, ones for my own children.

We have had SUCH horror stories with the non-RSVPing and the non-SHOWING UPPING and the bad locations and the party favoring. Ughhhhhh.

I've tried to bribe my children with so many things - like BALLET LESSONS FOR A YEAR - not to have a terrible birthday party, but that's what they always want. "I don't want ANY presents, just a party," say they, with sad eyes. And I always give in. It's terrible.

For party favors, I would hit the One Spot at Target. I have no other ideas.

My oldest is turning 10 in April, and so far, he hasn't asked for a party this year. I think he finally knows how terrible they are. Last year wasn't even that bad, and we still only had FOUR children show up, three of whom were invited at the last minute because we didn't think anyone was going to show up, and one of whom was the YOUNGER SISTER of one of the boys. HORRIFYING.

MamaK said...

hmm.. okay- 1) I second Michael's has good packs of AND you can get 40% coupons emailed to you (visit website and sign up).... and 2) Oriental Trading is good cheap stuff but stay away from the candy and noisemakers.... and 3) I also like: temp tattoos, pencils, silly bands, candy, popcorn (popcorn balls?)

and - an idea I didn't see in the comments yet, but MIGHT be appropriate given some of your past posts - what about a goldfish? yeah, a living little goldfish, just like in a carnival. you could have a BIG tank with all the fishies there, and as the kids leave, you (or william? paul?) nets one, bags it up, and sends them home. hee hee hee

1hottiredmama said...

www.oriental trading.com = cheap stuff for, well, cheap. The have gads of party stuff. Yes, the parents will probably hate it, but the kids will LOVE it!

misguided mommy said...

junk food to start, ie, hersheys kisses or something. then you buy a bag of 30 to get 15 but that leaves you 15 to injest while dealing with the party.

then you have a few options...
obviously stupid stuff (playdough) you know the 12 year old boys will end up all over that. water balloons with a hose provided for them to use there. more candy. a side of candy. mcdonalds gift cards. snacks.

so basically FOOD.

seriously you walk out with some candy and a cupcake or something and you know the kids will be thrilled...i'm almost 30 and i'd be over the moon for some chocolate and cup cakes.

speaking of wtf why do i never get any of that at the parties i go to

Anonymous said...

The clearance section of the Disney store. I usually get some Disney plates, or cups, or bowls for girls/boys and can easily return if I bought extra plus it is something that can be used.

Anonymous said...

I got books one year for my kid's 5th birthday party from Amazon.com. They run a 4-for-3 promotion on a lot of their paperbacks, so each super hero book ended up just $3. We wrapped them in simple craft paper and printed up personalized "Thank You" stickers on our inkjet. The kids were excited to have a gift of their own to unwrap, and the parents seemed to think it was a great idea too!

Happy hunting!