It’s party time, and you’ve been racking your brain, trying to decide what to give out when the festivities run down. Sure, you could buy those pre-assembled goody bags sold at many party venues, or cruise the aisles of a big box store, snapping up the regular old loot. But why? With a little time, you can create one-of-a-kind party favors that guests will love. Here are a few tips:

  • Skip the plastic. Most party favors are cheap junk destined to break within days and clog up the local landfill. Unless you can splurge on toys that you know kids will actually enjoy, save your money.
  • Think consumable. Gifts that get eaten or used up are popular with clutter-busting parents, gentler on the planet, and easy on your wallet. Try your hand at homemade candy, popcorn balls, or cookies. To make chocolate lollipops, always a kid favorite, melt a bagful of chocolate chips, pour the goop into a lollipop mold (approximately $2 at, add sticks and chill. Pop out the hardened pops, wrap in clear plastic and tie with a ribbon. Voila! Don’t have time to bake? Try mini packets of Fig Newtons, small boxes of raisins, or individually wrapped packs of wheat crackers and pretzels. Tie a ribbon around a ripe pear, decorate a banana with stickers, or enclose a fruit leather. Buy $1 gift certificates to the local ice-cream shop.
  • Most kids love craft supplies. Try mini containers of play dough, knitting needles and yarn, scissors with scraps of cloth and plastic needles, glitter glue and buttons, or a disposable camera.
  • A gift that always fits? Make a CD of your child’s favorite songs. It will only cost you about $.50 a pop, and it’s a great way to get the birthday boy or girl involved in the party planning.

Have a theme for your party? Tailor your treats accordingly. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Ice Skating Party: ice-skate shaped chocolate lollipops, a package of hot cocoa, snowman stickers, warm socks, a plastic spoon dipped in melted chocolate, sprinkled in blue and white non-pareils, and chilled. Or assemble a “snowman soup” kit: a mug stuffed with hot chocolate, marshmallows and a peppermint stick for stirring.
  • Backyard Party: an earthenware pot stuffed with potting soil and a packet of seeds, a pinwheel, and a pinecone tied with yarn, birdseed, and instructions on using that to make a birdfeeder.
  • Pirate Party: a wooden treasure chest (under $5 at the local crafts store) stuffed with chocolate coins, ring pops and candy necklaces. Looking for slightly healthier loot? Make homemade coins from round pieces of cardboard covered in tin foil and add beads and yarn to make homemade necklaces.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. You get the idea! Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to great goody bags. Best of all, your child can help!