I am thoroughly sick of the vast quantities of plastic crap that is so common in party bags, and wanted to avoid giving out the things that always make me groan inwardly when I see them clutched in my daughter’s hot little hand.
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Plastic stuff that makes noise, breaks, spills, and gets thrown away within hours or days. Stuff that is no actually bloody use at all.
A while ago I wrote a walk-through of the party bags without plastic I put together for my daughter’s seventh birthday party.
Having done my own smug-mummy plastic-free party bag, I figured I’d write up a rather more extensive list of stuff that could be put in party bags, either completely free from plastic crap, or at least contains minimal plastic.
There are a few sections, because when I began thinking about this I came up with some more ideas.
This kid party bag stuff isn’t divided into ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ stuff because I hate that crap. If we’re talking about standard primary age parties, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t all have the same things. Rant over.
Oh, and I’ve not broken it down by age. Use your common sense. (Three year olds don’t really need a party bag anyway. Though they do need books.)
By the way, when it comes to a lot of this stuff, Amazon and Poundland should sort you out.
Table of Contents
The Party Bags Themselves
You can buy packs of decorated plastic party bags. Please don’t. They’re cheap and nasty and go in the garbage.
Instead buy paper bags with handles.
You can find them on Amazon very easily, either in plain brown, white, or even colours.
They are perfectly acceptable left plain. Alternatively, you can decorate them if you’re feeling creative, get your child to decorate them (their contribution to the party prep) or the guests themselves can decorate them as a party activity.
When you’re done with them, they can be recycled. Excellent.
(Unless you’re having a very big party, you’ll end up with more than you need. It doesn’t matter. Use them as gift bags. They look great with coloured tissue paper.)
What To Do With Cake
As far as I’m concerned, cake should go in party bags. But I shudder when it’s wrapped in a napkin, because it makes a big fat squashed mess that usually ends up scattered in my car.
My alternative is those foil food containers with cardboard lids. No squashed cake, and the mess is reasonably contained when the cake is inevitably eaten on the way home despite the child having already eaten their bodyweight in sugar at the party.
You can buy them in supermarkets but the cheapest (and identical) ones are in Poundland at 10 for £1. Bargain.
Party Bag Stuff
(I think that a book on its own is a perfectly acceptable party favour.)
Here are some suggestions:
I’ve put age guides, but as a rule I think it’s better to include a book that’s slightly beyond them than one that is slightly too easy.
By pencils I mean regular writing/drawing pencils. You can never have too many pencils. I’ve found children are far more likely to make use of regular pencils and pens. You can find fun colourful sets in pound shops, stationers, or if you’re feeling flash, Smiggle.
I advise against colouring pencils or pens, because decent sets end up quite expensive, cheap ones are crap, and little ones get lost immediately. Ditto colouring pens and crayons. Novelty erasers look cute but they never work very well.
Pens are also good, as in plain ballpoint. Again, if you want them to look fun you can find decorated ones, but really, pens that you write with, that they can use in school.
Again, you can often find these in pound shops. If you’re good at bargains, or don’t have many to buy, there are often fun ones in TKMaxx.
These are fun, but don’t buy any smaller than this, the really tiny notepads are a nuisance. You want something they can write or draw in properly.
Another idea it to buy a pack of exercise books from eBay. They are inexpensive and the quality is pretty good. I buy these for my daughter to draw in. It works out cheaper than almost anything else. If you’re worried they look too school-y, add a sheet of stickers and they can decorate the covers.
You can buy big bags of birdseed from Poundland for very cheap. Divide it into paper bags (lots of colours, and you can also use these bags for sweets).
Don’t forget to write on the bag! (This is what I did.)
An alternative to birdseed. Again, you can buy big packs of these very cheaply, either from a pound shop, garden centre, or even Amazon. Also bag them, to stop them getting birdseed stuff all over the inside of the bag.
Something To Grow
You can also find wildflower mix that works the same way. Minimal hassle for everyone so they’re much more likely to actually be used.
There is also the old favorite, cress seeds, and all they need is a plate and wet paper towel!
Everyone’s trying to reduce their plastic use, and plastic straws are one of the villains of the piece. A metal straw would be a fantastic thing to include, and I bet parents wouldn’t mind this one at all.
You can get a set of eight from Amazon.
You can’t have too many socks. They might seems like the crap Christmas present everyone dreads, but get cool designs and they won’t mind. There are lots of multipacks in fun designs and colours on Amazon.
Mini blank canvas and easel
A mini painting on a real canvas with an easel is a nice craft for kids to make at home, and their parents can display it in a prominent place to show off their offspring’s artistic skills. (I also have this as a suggestion in my Party Crafts post.)
Children seem to love these. Buy a big packs of mini ones so you could include two or three. Bag and label them so they’re not confused with sweets!
These are controversial. Personally, I would prefer not to include yet more sugar, but my daughter informs me that it’s not a proper party bag without sweets.
So, it’s your choice, but this is what I do.
You can’t really avoid plastic completely because of the packaging, unless you’re going to make candy yourself and wrap it in wax paper. Feel free to do that, but I’m not going to. There are limits.
I buy a bunch of smaller paper bags (like the birdseed ones) and divide the contents of big bags of sweets among them. Choose whatever you like and as many as you like. Old fashioned ones like lemon sherberts and Everton Mints are fun. I put about eight sweets in each bag.
So here is my completed party bag this year.
Book, pencil, sweets, cake box.
I said at the beginning I hate ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ stuff. Then it occurred to me that sleepover parties are a thing with older kids, and these tend to be single-sex.
(At least, I hope so. I went to a co-ed boarding school, I know what happens when boys and girls get together.)
Now, if you’re hosting a bunch of kids overnight I think you’ve probably done more than enough without giving them goodie bags.
But you might be Pinterest/Instagram SuperMom who would like to put together some cute souvenirs for the guests to take home.
If so, here are a few ideas. They may appeal more to girls than boys, though never say never.
Making bath bombs would also be a fun activity
Cute headbands would go well with face masks
While they are not exactly plastic-free (because packaging) everything can be used. There’s no useless plastic crap. Of course you can also use these for regular party bags, if you must go down the more girly route.
So there you have my guide to plastic crap-free party bags.
If you can’t face actual party bags, but still want to send them home with a little something, check out my post about Kids’ Party Crafts, which make an excellent party bag alternative.
Pin this for later, and share with your friends!
Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think, or if you have any more fantastic ideas for crap-free party bags.
You can read my original party bag walk-through here.
PS You might have noticed I haven’t included wooden toys, which are of course not plastic crap. The reason I haven’t done so is that good ones are pretty expensive. If you’re trying to keep costs down you don’t want to be spending upwards of two quid on one item. Also, little toys easily get lost, discarded from boredom, or broken. I’ve tried to focus on things that can be used up with minimal waste or recycled.