I know party favor bags are well-intentioned but I will be plain and share that they make me crazy. The little plastic knick-knacks usually inspire fighting between the girls and then the items are quickly forgotten and become clutter. Which I throw away. And then feel guilty about throwing away (hello, landfill). Subsequently, I'm all about tchotchke-free party favors (if you want to do favors at all) to simplify birthday parties. Here are my five favorites:
1. Potted flowers. My friend Nicola hosted a gardening party where the activity was to paint then plant flowers into pots. The kids then took the flower pots home as favors. Simple and nature-inspired...I loved it! In the nature vein, I also think these plantable paper seeds could be a fun project/favor.
2. Usable crafts. Also in the vein of party activty = favor, the painting Laurel created at her friend Jack's messy party still hangs in her room, and the kids painted lots of wonderful plates when we hosted one of Laurel's birthdays at a local pottery studio. I'm a big fan of usable painted pottery (mugs, plates, bowls, etc.) as gifts around the holidays too.
3. Edible crafts/favors. For Laurel's birthday party this past Saturday, I borrowed my friend Liz's idea of having cupcakes be the activity + favor. Not surprisingly, it was a huge hit! In order to control mess, candy portions, germs, and also to keep goodies organized, each guest received a labeled paper plate with cupcakes (three -- one to eat at the party, two to hopefully share at home), a rainbow frosting bag, and little condiment cups filled with candy (these looked super cute and also prevented candy overload and germ infestation...WIN). Once the kids were done, I wrapped each plate with plastic wrap and they were good to go. So awesome.
4. Gift certificates. One year, my friend Heather handed out $5 gift certificates to the local ice cream store as favors. I thought this was so smart! You could do the same thing at a local book or toy store if you prefer. Also, at a place like an ice cream store, it would be totally fine to get gift certificates for a single scoop cone if that is more amenable to your budget.
5. Books for everyone. A couple of months ago I shared about some great ideas for birthday gift alternatives. I really loved the idea my friend Jill had about a book swap. Instead of gifts, she asked each guest to bring a new, wrapped book. Every kid went home with a different kind of favor. It was absolutely lovely.
Do you have other great ideas for tchotcke-free party favors? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!