Monday, February 17, 2014

Six Great Goodie Bag Alternatives

The Climate Crusader is planning her daughter's birthday party, and looking for greener goodie bag alternatives.

I'm in the midst of planning a birthday party for my almost-nine-year-old, and I decided that this year I didn't want to do a traditional goodie bag (or loot bag, or grab bag - the names for these little bags are endless). In past years I've aimed for fewer, more thoughtfully-chosen items in the goodie bag. Think organic candy, pencils and paper, an eraser, a handful of stickers, all packed in a paper bag. I tried to steer clear of cheap plastic items from the dollar store, while still making something that my children's guests would enjoy.

This year I thought I would do something a little different, so I turned to Facebook, and boy did my friends come through. They came up with some great, green alternatives to the traditional goodie bag. Today I'm sharing my five favourite ideas.

Six Fun Goodie Bag Alternatives

  1. Gift card - Instead of buying something that your guests may or may not enjoy, get them a $5 gift card to a local toy store or book shop. Or let them treat their parents to a hot chocolate date at a local cafe.
  2. Take home craft - Make a craft as one of the party activities. Decorate cookies or cupcakes, let your guests use fabric paint on white T-shirts, aprons or canvas bags, make sock puppets ... there's no end to ideas.
  3. Plant a seed - Small terracotta pots, some soil and a few seeds make for a lovely green gift. You can also have the kids decorate the pots. And either way, the children will learn about growing plants.
  4. One larger item - Lots of people opt for one larger gift instead of a bunch of small ones. My favourite suggestions were skipping ropes, paints, eco-friendly crayons and kites.
  5. Food - If you're not up to decorating cookies or cupcakes, or you'd like to reduce the sugar consumption, you can still send kids home with food.  Some people make their own jam or pickles,
    or dried fruit, as giveaways. Older kids may also enjoy take-home food kits so they can do some cooking of their own.
  6. Books - Books make great giveaway items. To make them more affordable look for bulk packs or buy second-hand. You can also organize a book exchange for the party, where everyone brings a couple of books they're done with and swap them for a new-to-them book.
 What about you - what are your favourite eco-friendly goodie bag alternatives for your kids' parties?


Sarah said...

Growing up we never did goodie bags - we were super into crafts so we would have a themed craft, like making a nature journal for a camping party. But I don't think its necessary to send something home - give them an experience and a fun time, that's all they really need. I feel like our culture has turned birthday parties into more of an expectation for more stuff. Not necessary.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Absolutely unnecessary, but now culturally expected. Who knows why or how that got started. The last one I got was full of crappy candy and plastic junk. Ugh. But from a good friend's party. I feel like the lone ranger on this one. Just trying to change the trend by doing an alternative. We've done one bigger gift mostly in the past: one Hot Wheel Car, etc.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

P.S. Love these ideas, Amber!

Green Bean said...

These are great ideas, Amber. We've done the gift certificates (for frozen yogurt or ice cream) over the past few years. It is always for a locally owned shop and, while they were still in business, it was for a small store that sold local, organic frozen yogurt. Man, I felt good about those goodie bags!

We've also done the take home craft a few times. Those are great - basically a memory of the experience.

Love the idea of books too.

This year, for my 11 year and 9 year old, we took the kids to a movie and the goodie bag was a bag of candy to eat at the movie. Until we can say goodbye to the goodie bag altogether (when is that by the way?!), your ideas will tide me over! :)

EMMA said...

Great ideas!
My youngest has his birthday in October so for his 3rd we had an autumn themed party - hand sewn apple invitation cards, autumn fruit, veg and leaf treasure hunt, apple spice cake and instead of goodie bags I made everyone an apple cozy (knitted but crochet ones would have been much quicker to do)and gave them out, complete with an apple, at the end of the party.
Another fun idea could be handmade fabric pouches (a bit like reusable sandwich bags) filled with trail mix (and a few candies). Could even go so far as to embroider each child's initials!!
Stickers are always a big hit!!

robbie @ going green mama said...

Love these ideas... I hate goodie bags with a passion! (And often those items are forgotten before they get home and are squirreled away for the trick-or-treaters)

For my son's bday we had a Star Wars theme and gave the boys inflatable light sabers and brown shirts for their "Jedi training."


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