Candy-Free Party Favors

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I am just being honest here. I am so tired of my girls coming home from birthday parties with goodie bags full of candy. Maybe it is just me, but after letting them indulge in highly processed pizza, cake, juice and in some instances even soda do kids as young as 3 and 4 years of age really need a bag full of candy? I don’t want to sound ungrateful because my daughters have so much fun at these parties, and I know it’s a lot of work and expense for the parents. But, it is a pretty solid reminder that we are very much the minority with our “real food” desires. And frankly, I don’t know what to do with these bags full of junk food that the party hosts keep handing out to my kids.

Luckily my girls are still young enough that they often forget about the party favors shortly after the party, but ever since Halloween last year I started giving them quarters for each piece of candy that they chose to give up to me. I certainly don’t want them to “miss out” on anything special and they happen to love saving up their change so they can go pick out a toy with their very own money. This of course means I end up throwing that bag of candy in the trash, which unfortunately seems like such a waste.

Earlier this month we celebrated our youngest daughter’s fourth birthday, and I was on a mission to come up with fun candy-less party favors. I know some say everyone should go without party favors all together, but I am not quite on that bandwagon yet. Plus I used to be a corporate event planner in my old life so I think it is fun to get into the details of an event. So, without further ado, for only a couple bucks each we gave out the pictured pots, bags of soil, seed packets, shovels and plant tags to all our little guests. I was lucky to find almost all of the items marked down in the dollar bins at Target. And I was even more thrilled to learn that most of the kids have since “planted” their party favor including my own two daughters who both really enjoyed the task. So hopefully these will last at least a little bit longer than the candy-filled alternative!

I recently reached out to my wonderful facebook community to get even more candy-free party favor ideas and here is the list of ideas that they came up with. We’d love to hear your ideas as well so please leave them in the comments below!

  • Bubbles
  • Books / bookmarks
  • Craft projects (can usually find $1 packs at craft store)
  • Pencils/erasers
  • Crayons
  • Small pads of paper
  • Stickers
  • Chinese yo-yos (found at Pier 1)
  • Bouncy balls
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Boxes of raisins
  • Small containers of Play-Doh or a homemade version
  • Bracelets that can be made at the party
  • Snacktrap holders
  • Boo boo bunnies
  • Animal or other fun hats (can be found at A.C. Moore)
  • Finger puppets
  • Scholastic books (they offer many books for only a dollar!)
  • Karate kid headbands (made at party with white napkins)
  • Teacups
  • Magic wands
  • Aprons
  • Paint supplies
  • Homemade sword/shield sets
  • Goodie tote bags that the kids can decorate at party
  • Silly Bandz
  • Balloons / water balloons
  • Water guns / goggles
  • $5 gift card to bookstore
  • Shirts that kids paint, decorate, or tie dye at party
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Tulle tutus that kids can make at party
  • Glow in the dark stars kids can find on scavenger hunt
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand-me-down stuffed animals
  • Foamerators made at party
  • Lego mini figures
  • Diego place mats and binoculars
  • Toothbrushes
  • Matchbox cars
  • Sand toys
  • Small puzzles
  • Jedi robes and pool noodle lightsabers
  • Nail polish

For more ideas go to this post: Easter without the junk!

[Entered into Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday]

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110 comments to Candy-Free Party Favors

  • Shannon

    Your tomato party favour looks very similar to birthday gifts we gave out last year. We tucked a picture book about gardening in there too.

  • Samantha

    Another great party favor (non-edilble) but amazing. Is the TickleMe Plant party favor. This party favor grows the only plant that I know that will close its leaves and lower its branches when tickled. Kids never forget the experience years later. My students love them too. See a TickleMe Plant in action at Has pink flowers like a Truffula tree too!

  • Hi Lisa, We also prefer to avoid any type of food with little or no nutritional value, especially since so many types of food are questionable these days. Flower Seed Packet party favors decorated with pretty mermaids and fairies are a fun way to connect with nature and a great reminder of the event as the flowers grow each year. Another idea is empty Tin Party Favors decorated with guitars, girly make up and even video games, that can be filled by the parents with whatever contents that they choose.

  • Elissa

    I like to try to stay away from candy favors too. Here are some of the things I have given at my kids’ parties: flashlights, glow bracelets/necklaces, lip balm, tattoos, stickers, colored pens with notebooks & stencils, crafts created at the party, sand pails/shovels, bubbles, sunglasses, pool toys, sidewalk chalk.

  • See, I’d rather have the candy than the plastic crap toys! Ugh. Clutter. My kids get candy very rarely so I don’t mind if they have a little bit from time to time and then it’s gone. But cheap, plastic made-in-China army men? They’re forever.

  • Audra

    I agree on the junk food and the plastic toys all over my house that break as soon as they are played with, half the time. I try and just send home one item that is useful. I have found wonderful stuff at the dollar store or in the dollar section of places like target. Also have found great stuff on clearance at the end of a season that I snatch up if I know what party is coming: kites, crazy or fuzzy socks, pedicure kits, coloring books (especially if it goes with the theme), balls. And for older boys that are out of the “cute” stage, Frisbees, foam footballs, pack of water balloon grenades. We try and have the take-a-way favor be something that works in to the party theme too, like for a younger child’s “boot camp” we have bought army hats they can use for dress up, inflatable light sabers for a Star Wars party (bet the parents loved us for that one….) Or for an arts and craft party, make something at the party, picture frames, painted flower pot, as an activity and then send home with them. Again, something useful and fun that hopefully won’t get in the way.

  • Kate

    Last year we had a train parry for my son. We gave put train hats, bandanas and a train whistle. I have never given out the “traditional” goodie bag filled with candy…

  • Tina

    Just a note on super-balls: these were always banned from our house on advice of our vet. We had a golden retriever and now have a lab. They love to fetch. Most super-balls are exactly the right size to be a deadly choking hazard to larger dogs. I threw them straight in the trash, and the kids understood why. We never had any balls in our house smaller than a tennis ball. I know, we all have our own issues, but I lived in fear of a giant bouncy dog trying to catching a tiny bouncing ball.

    I love these ideas that are disposable items like chalk, paper hats, or the plants and pots.

  • Kimh449

    Great idea’s, thank you! We just gave out mood rings, and a color chart wrapped in a small box for my daughter’s 7th birthday. Big hit!

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