When we booked our slightly last minute birthday party for Pickle, hired a venue and started to invite friends and family, I decided we wouldn’t do party bags at all. Over the years we have received (and probably dished out!) a fair number of typical party bag toys for Damon. The sort of thing you might pick up from a supermarket party ware section- the mini yoyos, clapper toys and slide puzzles, which seem like a great idea at the time but end up in the bin before the day is over.
I looked online for alternative ideas. Giving a book seems popular, particularly as The Book People sell multipacks of children’s books which can work out as little as £1 per book.
I also saw giving a pack of seeds mentioned a lot, in various ways. A pack of seeds in the party bag itself or even giving a plant pot with seeds, cake and maybe a couple of other bits, instead of a party bag. Or perhaps planting a sunflower seed as a party activity so the child has something to take home.
Others have suggested just sending sweets and cake to avoid the tat, or simply a helium balloon and a cake (the latter appealed to me and I wouldn’t be afraid to use that idea in the future!).
After much deliberation I decided it would be lovely to have party bags and set about tat avoidance! I was lucky enough to have a friend send me some left over party items in the post, including some Gruffalo party bags, sticker sheets, balloons, writing pencils and a few wiggly snakes, which were perfect for the older children at the party.
So all over the age of 2 received stickers, a balloon and a pencil to start with, and everyone over 5 received a wiggly snake too- tat free so far!
We found the party bag fillers in The Entertainer were a mixture of tat and better quality items so I got stuck in! I kept in my head that I shouldn’t buy anything I wouldn’t be happy for my kids to receive which helped a lot. I found these wooden play watches in a variety of colours, anyone under 5 got one. They were 50p each. For the older kids I found these cool clip bracelets, they were also 50p each.
I found bags of dinosaur and pony figures. These were down from £2 per bag to £1 for 12 figures. 2 packs of Dino’s and 1 pack of ponies went around quite easily with a few left over to keep at home.
I bought some really cool Lego Mini figure shaped crayons from the lovely lady at Wax off, Cray-on. She had a sale on at the time, but these are still reasonable at full price- £1.80 for a rainbow of 7 Lego men. I bought a few packs and split them between each bag. The more packs you buy, the cheaper they are, so it would also be cool to buy each child a pack each for a smaller party. She makes all sorts of other shapes for all occasions (I particularly like the jigsaw puzzle!). Our Lego men seem to have wondered off into various pencil cases except this lonely red one, so here is the lovely name set of crayons we received too.
The Entertainer also provided me with a copy of Mr. Messy for each of our guests under the age of 1. These were £1 each and as the babies wouldn’t be receiving anything else I thought that was worth it. (Ok- so you don’t have to provide party bags for babies. This is slightly silly, but you don’t know these babies. They are too adorable. You’d want them to have a party bag too, seriously.)
I didn’t want to go too crazy on the sweeties, although the kids are always delighted to receive a bag full of sugar! I find that they tend to eat a lot of sugar at a party anyway, and it’s difficult to hide away a bag full of sweets to dish out in moderation when they have it in their lap on the way home. We get hyper or grumpy (or a rollercoaster of both!) kids, who are too full of sweets to eat dinner! We gave a combination of Happy Hippos, Aldi’s own fruit flakes for the babies (if they weren’t allowed them they all attended with a bigger kid or two who could help with the eating!), Smarties for the older kids and ring shaped lollipops for the big kids too. Most of this was bought from discount shops or Aldi, costing around £5 for the lot. With a piece of birthday cake wrapped up and added to the bags, I think that was plenty of sugar!
Hand finished gifts
I really like the idea of adding a couple of items with a more handmade feel. I bought a big bag of bird seed and added some to a sandwich bag. Tied off with some ribbon (although I sadly I didn’t have enough for curly ribbon!) and added a sticker to say what it was. The big bag of seed was £1 in our local market and the rest of the stuff I already had at home.
I also made these felt party hats! These aren’t strictly party bag items, but I made enough for everyone who wanted one to take home (of course some 2-3 year olds wont wear hats!). I already had some sheets of A4 felt I bought from Amazon for crafts. This felt was particularly lovely (in comparison to similar craft felt I’ve bought from Amazon in the past).
I cut the sheets in half lengthways using a zig zag line (if I was patient and wanted to be neater I’d have made a template but I just cut them freehand and they worked out alright if a little quirky in places!)
I cut vertical slits big enough for the ribbon, roughly 1.5 inches apart, across the bottom part of the crown. Then I threaded the ribbon through and added a couple of stitches at each end to secure it. The ribbons tied the crowns to their head and voila! Reusable party hats, as modelled here by Pickle!
So there you have it, Party bags for 16 people – without too much tat! Have you got any other ideas?
Check back over the next couple of days for a post about the party itself!