Party Bag Palaver – Party Bags Without Plastic Crap

I love party bags: planning them, making them, it’s my favourite part of planning a birthday party! Apparently there is something of a debate around children’s party bags: what should they contain, sweets or no sweets, plastic or no plastic, or even if they should be given out at all! There seem to be a million different opinions out there, and apparently it can get pretty competitive.

(Oh, please note this post contains some affiliate links.)

I actually made these back in November, but haven’t actually gotten around to writing about it until now (better late than never!) 

This post isn’t going to debate the rights and wrongs of party bags, because I think they’re fantastic, but I wanted to talk about how I planned this one (for Little C’s 7th birthday party), along with some prices. There’ll also be some opinion thrown in for good measure! 

Here’s an opinion to start with: I hate plastic tat in party bags. It lasts for five seconds, is incredibly wasteful, and ends up broken and binned. Yes, you can buy some very cheap stuff, and if you’ve got a minuscule budget then I can understand why it’s attractive. But my selection don’t include that.

Another opinion: I hate party bags that are mostly sweets. It’s enough to deal with a car journey home with your kid hopped up on sugar, but throw in a ton of extra candy plus cake and you’re looking at an all-round nightmare. Perhaps you can persuade your child to hand over the party bag sweets, but I’ve not yet managed it. You could go for the ‘if you eat it you’ll feel sick’ tactic (which I’ve used) but there’s the risk of them actually throwing up in the car. This hasn’t happened to us yet, but there have definitely been a couple of close calls.  

So, those are my general principles: fewer sweets and no plastic crap. I had fourteen party bags to make. Want to know what I came up with?

I thought a book would be a great thing to include. Books are awesome and essential, and you can never have too many. You can use them again and again, and no one can complain about their kid being given a book. But they’re not cheap when you buy them individually, and I had fourteen of the damn things to buy! However there is an awesome website, The Book People, which sells books at a huge discount, and what’s more, they do box sets.  

Since I wrote this post The Book People have gone bust, boo hiss. I’ve removed the links from this post, but the content hasn’t changed.

The Book People have a fantastic selection of sets of children’s books, which work out extremely cheap. As the guests were both boys and girls I wanted something pretty neutral. I hate those crappy books about fairies; even Little C thinks they’re boring and she loves fairies. I also hate things which are ‘for girls’ and ‘for boys’, with the inevitable pink and blue colour coding. They also had to be age appropriate for the mix of 6 – 8 year olds that were attending the party. 

This is what I decided on: The Jeremy Strong Collection. Fourteen books for thirteen quid. Excellent. (The 6th birthday party bag contained a Secret Seven book from this collection. Enid Blyton is awesome for kids, but I didn’t want to risk repeats for kids who were at that party.)

I also wanted to add something a little bit unusual. Last time I included a bird seed fat ball, which I thought was a good seasonal thing. Also they were six for a pound at the pound shop. I didn’t want to repeat exactly what I did before, or rather I was too lazy to think of something completely different. So I instead this time I went for birdseed! 

Kids party bags ideas palaver children

Poundland sells a nice big bag of basic birdseed for the bargain price of £1! I worked out that it would be around 90g per portion. 

Now, I know I said I don’t like a ton of sweets in party bags, but I still wanted to add a few. 

Kids party bags ideas palaver children

Maoam Stripes are always popular, and Tesco had an offer on two bags for £1.50. Tiger had little chocolate bars in fun wrappings at 50p for a bag of seven. Being the stingy thrifty type, I took advantage of the heavily reduced Halloween chocolate in Waitrose and picked up some little chocolate pumpkins for 50p for a bag of 20.

Kids party bags ideas palaver children

So the sweetie offering was two little chocolate bars, four chocolate pumpkins, and a Maoam Stripe. The addition of sweets I justified to myself by remembering there weren’t going to be any sweets at the actual party. (Apart from a gummy worm in the pudding, but that’s another story.)

Finally, everyone was going to get a slice of cake. Another thing that slightly bugs me is when cake comes wrapped in napkins. This is entirely because the second it’s unwrapped (usually in the car!) it immediately sheds all manner of crumbs and frosting. I totally get it’s a fast and simple way to deal with cake pieces. But I had another idea, once again from trusty Poundland.

You know those little metal trays that some takeout food comes in? Well, you can buy a pack of ten in Poundland for £1, and let me tell you, these things are fantastic. Not only are they cheap and the perfect size for a piece of cake, they are fantastic for freezing single portions of food. So each bag got a little foil tray and lid (I planned to cut the cake and put in in the boxes during the party). 

Kids party bags ideas palaver children

So there is everything ready to go.

Oh yes, the bags. They’re brown kraft bags like these. There was more than I needed in the pack, but I used the rest at Christmas as gift bags, jazzed up with coloured tissue paper. 

The striped paper birdseed and sweet bags were £4.99 for 100. I’ve still got some left over, but again, I’ve used them for wrapping little gifts at Christmas (Santa found them very handy!) and I’ll certainly use them up as time goes on. Who knows, I might be able to use them for the next lot of party bags!

The little stickers were from Ryman, £1.19 for 90. Again, I’ll find a use for the rest.

So how much did it all cost?

The packaging bits cost £9.37. 

Books £14

Sweets £5

Birdseed £1

Total £29.37

Cost per bag: Just over £2.

I reckon that’s pretty good value! No plastic tat, not too much sugar, and a book, because books are brilliant. Everything can be used, the packaging can be recycled (even the metal cake tray) and you can feel good about giving the birdies something to eat in the cold weather.

The Book People website has masses of book sets, some of which work out even cheaper per book than the 93p that these cost. You could trim the cost in other ways too, put sweets loose in the bottom of the bag perhaps, or just get one colour of bag. I liked the different colours as you probably wouldn’t want the kids to tuck into the birdseed by mistake! I also wrote on them myself in my not-very-fancy writing. 

If you wanted to spend a little bit more you could add a pen or pencil (again, something that can be used). You can probably find cheap multipacks at Poundland (I love that place!) or a supermarket. 

Yes, I had to put in some work at ordering, weighing, counting out, and putting together. You can buy prefilled party bags in all kinds of places (though none of them at this price are without some kind of plasticky tat). I probably spent less than three hours in total, and that was in dribs and drabs over the course of a few weeks. 

As I said above, this was for a bunch of 6 – 8 year olds, but these ideas could work well for older or younger children.

So what do you think? What do you put in party bags? Do you think this is a reasonable budget? Do you even think party bags are necessary? 

I had a lot of fun putting these together, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find out exactly how much they cost. I certainly tried to keep costs down, but this is actually the first time I added it all up and it all cost a lot less than I thought!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Pin it for later, and drop me a line in the comments and let me know how you made awesome party bags without plastic crap!

You can also read a list of Party Craft Ideas here, plus a more extensive guide to making Party Bags Without Plastic Crap.

How I made awesome party bags without plastic crap!



5 thoughts on “Party Bag Palaver – Party Bags Without Plastic Crap

  1. That’s it bird seed is going in my next party bags. The kids will love it. Thanks for the idea 🙂

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