Special to the Recorder
Goody bags are a classic part of birthday parties. You bring a gift to the party, you enjoy and eat cake and you leave with a gift or bag of treats as a thank you when you head out the door. Some say goody bags are not necessary anymore, over the top or just a bunch of plastic with trinkets that are played with once and then thrown out. Yet others say goody bags are here to stay. Here’s a list of goody bag ideas that are less trinket-based, and more hands-on and memorable.
Jacksonville Rocks! What are these, you ask? They're a great craft for a birthday party. Purchase rocks at the local hardware store and have the kids paint and decorate the tops and then paint “Jacksonville Rocks” underneath them. Let them dry before the kids take them home. Then, it’s up to them to hide them in their neighborhoods or at a local park for others to find and re-hide, or take them home and enjoy. Search for your local Rocks group on Facebook to join the clubs and learn more!
Baked goods Whether it’s a Rice Krispies Treat, chocolate chip cookies or a bag of chocolates, you can’t go wrong with a sweet treat in your goody bags. They are easy to make and inexpensive as many can be made from the ingredients in your home. Or you can purchase specialized treats from a baker, referencing this list of contacts here: http://bit.ly/2tTWWMo .
Photo booth photo gifts Kids love to pose in photo booths with props and the funny signs (“I’m here for the cake!” or “Birthday Girl!”). Provide photos as a goody gift so kids can always remember the day. For local photo booths and related ideas, visit http://bit.ly/2tPKhug .
Action gifts If you’re having a superhero party, make, or purchase from a website like ETSY, masks and superhero capes to play with at the party and take home. If it’s a princess party, make a princess hat to play with and take home. The kids will continue to play with the gifts long after the party is over.
Experience gifts If you have a birthday party at a fun zone or the zoo, include a ticket to come back, or a coupon for an ice cream or frozen yogurt. Those gifts will provide a fun experience for families at a later date.
Consumable gifts Offer crayons and a coloring book, sidewalk chalk or bubbles as a gift. These are items that parents always need for activities at home. Our kids enjoyed the long wands with bubbles at two recent summer parties and use them for bubbles and as imaginary magic wands even a month later!
Garden gifts Head to the local hardware store for bird or wildflower seed, and place it in plastic wrap with ribbon to hand out to party guests. They will enjoy going home to watch the birds come or to plant seeds, and the process will ultimately help the environment!
Books Head to the dollar store and purchase some cheap books. We’ve had one dollar store book about a Minnie Mouse mystery for five years, and we love reading about who ate Minnie’s daffodils, even though the book is now held together with tape! Have kids pick out a book before they leave, and families will enjoy reading it for many years to come.
And last, but not least, don’t be afraid to nix the party bags! Many say death to goody bags; some feel they promote consumerism or the feeling that kids should always get something in exchange for being at the party. Families enjoy just being together to celebrate, and goody bags are not mandatory. I actually forgot goody bags for my daughter’s birthday, and no one mentioned it! Alas, if you are a stickler on the birthday party etiquette, consider the above list and enjoy the fun!