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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115 comments to Candy-Free Party Favors

  • jennifer

    4th grade has my daughter eating 5-6 pieces of candy a day!!! I’m so upset that I have yet to speak with the teachers regarding the health concerns I have for my daughter and her classmates. Two teachers give out candy for various reasons – I have donated coins that kids can choose to save-up, or donate to the class missions project. Daughter does understand and wants to be healthy, so she only eats one per day and puts the rest in her pocket. On another note, same daughter is hosting a spa birthday party – healthy “spa food” like cucumbers and fruit compote. Take home gift is a spa bath wrap we are making for each girl and her favorite doll. Not much junk other than the cake. :)

  • Mags

    Dear Lisa,
    I hear you on that and I also feel the same during classroom parties at school. During Halloween, Christmas and valentines day my daughter comes home with lots of candy and I feel so bad about it.
    I wish if the parents and party organizers find other alternatives to avoid wasting their money on stuff that are not good for their kids.
    Thanks for the note.

  • BB

    We ran out of time, but for my daughter’s party I bought a big kit of paint your own magnets. I’m tired of all the candy too.

  • Tonya Howard

    Thank you so much – my daughter’s 4th birthday is next month so this gives me some great ideas although I know of some healthier treat options without harmful dyes / colors.

    for Halloween…how about switch witch (I think maybe like you are doing..or the alternative:

  • Flavia

    I don’t like the excess of candy, but I was not brave enough not to put any in my daughter’s party bag, so one of the favours was candy. The other edible thing was a box of organic raisins. Apart from that, I put little toys that were already mentioned in your post. Then I did some online research for fun printable activities and coloring pages. I contacted the person who made the pages to make sure it was ok to print lots of them, and handed them out with the party bags. One of the mothers came to talk to me at school the following week and she told me that the party bag was great and kept her daughter busy for a long time. I think most people find it easier and/or cheaper just to add lots of candies in the party bags, but it is not that hard or expensive to look for alternatives. When my daughter turned 2 I bought lots of ceramics bowls at IKEA, personalised them with ceramic pens and filled them with homemade treats. I got lots of compliments at the time, and it was something very useful. Which kid doesn’t use ceramic bowls?

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