It used to be a small token of thanks—a pack of gum, a sticker or a balloon. But, like all things that start out small, the party favor has gotten big. Really big. Well, bigger isn’t always better. Why not scrap a big bag of plastic toys for a smaller, cooler favor that won’t get thrown away (and end up in our oceans and rivers)? Here are a few ideas to keep the party favors based in reality:
Make a craft at the party:
  • Hit the craft store and buy a large wooden letter for each child's name on your guest list. Place lots of different paints, glitters and glue out on a table. Everyone gets to paint their letter and take it home. 
  • For older kids, buy some terra cotta pots at your local nursery or home improvement store. Let the kids decorate the pots with paint. Give everyone a packet of seeds to take home and plant in their pot. 
  • Buy some wooden picture frames and let the kids decorate them with paint, glitter, and foam stickers. At the party, take digital pictures of the kids with the birthday boy or girl and give one for each frame.
Keep within your theme:
  • If you’re having an airplane themed party, buy an easy-to-assemble model airplane kit for each child. 
  • If your theme is a princess party, go to a craft store or a bead store and buy some leather string and various beads. Be sure to include the letter beads of each child’s first name. Place them in a cute organza pouch and the girls will be thrilled to have their own, hand made jewelry kit. 
  • If you’re having a sports party (at a gym, a bowling alley, or a basketball court) give everyone their own sports ball as a party favor to take home.
Give them something they will learn:
  • You can find paperback books for less than five dollars at most big bookstores. Look for books that appeal to both sexes, like Curious George or The Bearanstain Bears. Parents will appreciate seeing their child come home with a new book. 
  • The same holds true with puzzles. Give everyone an individual, 24-piece puzzle they can use over and over again.
Encourage creativity:
  • Buy a cute paper sack and fill it with an artistic activity a child can do at home: crayons and paper, Playdoh, sidewalk chalk, or colored pencils, for example.
While it’s tempting to throw together a bag overflowing with candy, try going for the party favor that hits it big by being small. Kids will love it, parents will thank you for it and you’ll be the hit of the party.