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Making Goody Bags Good

By Priya Raman on 24 December 2010 | Topics - Parenting

Have you been to a Birthday party recently ?

Having kids or not, birthday party invitations have become a regular part of our life now.  With our busy schedules, hosting birthday parties at locations like Chuck-e-Cheese, Pump-it-Up, Party Place has become a easy alternative. Besides deciding on the menu, space arrangement, you can even pick a goody bag that you want for the guest (kids). These goody bags  rescue the parents from not having to split hair trying to match gifts with kids’.

Faster they come Faster they go

I would be curious to know what your experience has been with the goody bags kids bring home from birthday parties. In our house, the lifespan of a goody bag is 10 minutes. Once it has been dissected and the organs thrown around, I am left to clean up. Most of the “goodies” that came in the bag will be dismantled to identify their utility and when none found, they find their way to my trash can.  We pretty much followed the “party line” (pun intended) when it came to hosting parties and went for these pre-packaged goodies. I never paid much attention to the usefulness of these toys. They were just party favors that I would fill each bag with – the more of them the merrier I would think.

But as my kids grew older, I got wiser and started scrutinizing each goody bag (we bought and kids brought home). Besides being flimsy, some of the toys are borderline dangerous. Plastic guns, Catapults that shoot small disks etc.

Make ’em good

While we all aspire to be like my friend Deepa, who carefully shops for the best game or craft according to the interest and age of the child attending her kids’ party, given my patience levels, I will settle for half as good. Come to think of it, while difficult, it is not tough to find better party favors than those we pick up off the shelf. We just have to “look-outside” the party favors aisle. Here are the few suggestions to follow.

  1. Always work off of the party list. Make sure to note the age of the invitee.
  2. Involve you child in finding the interest of the attendee. If that is not possible then use your child as a guage.
  3. As with anything else have a budget in mind. $3-5 per goody bag. There are tons of games that can fit your budget.
  4. Don’t just limit yourself to party favors aisle. You will find some better alternatives in the toys/craft section.

If you are short on time, here are some suggestions, you cannot go wrong with.

  • for younger children (3-6 years)- crayons, picture books, Play dough.
  • for slightly older kids (6 and above)  journals, gel pens, paint kits
  • for creative older girls – bracelet kits, kits to make friendship bands
  • for older boys – kits to make airplanes, wood craft kits, unfinished bird feeders

Alternatively you can also pick from these choices

  • Etch-a-Sketch
  • Puzzles,
  • Wood picture frames
  • Bubble makers
  • Beach toys,
  • Blowup balls,
  • Origami kits
  • Activity books too are a great option.

If you look at the costs, most of these do not cost more than all those little trinkets put together. With a little planning and some thought, we can ensure that goody bags are not filled with trinkets that are thrown away. Instead they have something that helps kids enjoy and learn at the same time.

As always don’t forget to take a quick glance at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Toy Hazard Recall List before you buy a toy.

Would love to hear your experiences with what you have discovered in kids goody bags. Also go ahead and suggest better toys/favors that can make a goody bag good.

About the Author Priya is a working mom of two. Besides her steady load of work at home taking care of her kids, she finds time to work for her husband's company, help her childrens' school and conduct summer camps. She created the site Little Respite to share some of her ideas/thoughts with other fellow parents, friends.