What to Put in Goody Bags for Birthday Party Guests

As a little girl, I remember that a birthday party just wasn't complete without a little party bag to give out to each guest. The goody bags weren't necessarily extravagant, but they were fun to put together and to pass out at the end of the party to say "thank you" for coming. My friends would eagerly open their baggies to reveal toys, candies, and other knick-knacks.

As a parent, I like the idea of favors for guests, but my thoughts about the contents of the bags has changed. I'm not a big fan of baggies with cheap candies, little trinkets (erasers, plastic rings, etc.), and assembly line toys from the party favor aisle. Instead, I'd prefer if the favors were more creative - healthier - and more practical.

Looking for ideas for filling goody bags for your next party?


play-doh party pack Play Doh : Add one tub to every bag to delight the tiny sculptors in the crowd. This favor is easy on the wallet too - you can get 50 1-ounce cans for $12.99 or 24 3-ounce cans for $10.99.


crayonsBox of Crayons : Can a child have too many crayons? Probably. But new crayons are always a special delight.



crest-smiley-gripperToothbrush : They come in fun colors...and the American Dental Association recommends that kids change out their toothbrushes at least every 3 months. A new brush will be appreciated by the child - and his/her parent.

goldfish individual bagsFruit Snacks or Individual Bags of Goldfish: A healthier alternative to candy and kids will appreciate the treat just as much.

Or consider giving just one "bigger-ticket" item:

jump rope kidsA Jumprope : Encourage exercise and outdoor play with this kid-approved favor.

ice cream coneCertificate for a FREE Kids Ice Cream Cone at a local ice cream parlor : To be used at the discretion of the parent.

bubble gum clippies moo g clipsHair Clips by Moo G : Pretty little clips and snaps that stay put. Individually wrapped in clear packaging. These clips are absolutely gorgeous and each clip is handmade by the owner of the company (a mom) to ensure high-quality. There are numerous designs to choose from and most of the clips (or pairs of clips) retail for $4-5.

Or don't give favors at all.

As I was doing "research" for this piece, I was surprised to find that many parents have rather strong feelings about party bags...and apparently there can be quite a bit of pressure to give them out. I actually like the idea of favors, but I also don't think they're necessary. If you don't like it, skip it.

YOUR TURN: How do you feel about "goody bags"? Do you love 'em or hate 'em? What creative ideas do you have for filling them?

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102 comments on “What to Put in Goody Bags for Birthday Party Guests”

  1. last year I threw my son an Elmo themed party. I put Elmo coloring books, crayons, juice boxes with Sesame Street characters on them and cinnamon flavor gold fish. everyone was impressed with the gift bags. this year I'm going to use Mickey mouse as the theme and feel pressured to have gift bags just as good but don't want to use the same ideas from last year. I hate giving things kids will just throw around and I'd prefer not to use candy. any ideas?

  2. im going to celebrate my son 1st year birthaday n plan to give away some goody bag,, can some1 advice me wat to give off

    1. I would think of mini baby blue iced cupcakes and a good way to fill the bag would be to put white or blue fluff on the bottom and a thank you for coming note and a photo of the 1 year old also if you look at the m and m website you can costomise m and m's and have them in little bags for about $4.00 so thats worth having a look if you put it in a small bag it would be full.

      Hope Iv helped

      1. cupcakes are always cute. I've seen people use plastic champagne glasses and fill them with things like m&m' s or tokens from the arcade where they are having the party and stick a cupcake at the top. they are a cute way to help decorate your table and you can get creative with what you put in them. I find a lot of my ideas on pinterest you should check out that website

  3. Really great ideas in your post and from some of the comments. I'm busy planning a party for Little Moo and especially love the idea of toothbrush (plus kiddy toothpaste!!), some hair clips, and some home-made coloured/scented/glitter play doh. I'm sick of the tat that she's received at parties. Trash that either breaks before we're home, or lands in the bin without being touched. Our goody bags will be memorable for the right reasons :-)

  4. My son's b day party is this weekend and I bought cookie cutters (some flower shapes and some car and airplane shapes) and decorating frosting and sprinkles etc. I'll make the cookies ahead of time but will have the kids decorate a few cookies each as an activity and I'll have small plastic bags they can each take their cookies home in.

  5. Goodie bags are one of my favorite parts of the parties I throw for my own children. I do not expect them when we go to parties, but they are always appreciated. Cookies are always a good treat to take home. My daughter's party this year was flamingo themed, so I made flamingo shaped cookies and individually bagged them. On the way out the door, guests were asked to take some of the 'flock' home with them. I like doing cookies because they can be unique to your party, and adults and kids both love them. Once they are eaten there is nothing left, so no little trinkety things to hold onto or have laying around the house. Plus it makes your guests feel special for taking time out of their schedule to come and make YOUR child feel special.

  6. I am having my daughters first birthday and want to fix the kids coming a small goodie bag... love your ideas! do you have any for small children around 1-2 years of age?

  7. My daughter's birthday party was outside at a park. We bought a plastic pool (cheap at the dollar store) and filled it with bubbles about an inch. We bought brightly colored coated electrical wire from the hardware, and with wire cutters cut the wire and bent them into bubble wands such as triangles and squares and circles (making sure there was no sharp ends).
    We got white paper bags my daughter helped decorate, and put the homemade bubble wands in. We bought books from a thrift store (very low-cost, and there are always more thrift stores to look at if the first one you go to doesn't have a wide selection). The books also went in our goody bag.
    Jump rope from the dollar store so the children could jump rope throughout the party.
    Sidewalk chalk from the dollar store was put in so the children could draw on the cement (we had a pavilion and there was lots of cement to draw on).
    I made home-made playdoh, colored and some had sparkles in it (for the girls).
    The recipe for 'No Cook Play Dough':
    4 cups flour 1 - 1 1/2 cups water
    1 cup salt 2 tbsp cooking oil
    Mix flour, salt, and oil. Add food coloring to water if you want. Gradually add water to flour mixture and knead until getting the desired texture. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator when not in use.
    I also added a juice box and a fruit rollup to the bag.
    The goody bag ended up being very lost cost for everything in it. We gave the bags when the children arrived instead of waiting for the end so they could use everything in the bag while they were enjoying the party.
    At the end, our white paper hand-decorated goody bag consisted of:
    *Homemade Bubble Wand
    *2 Children's Books (the thrift store was really low-cost)
    *Jump Rope
    *Sidewalk Chalk
    *Homemade Playdoh
    *Juice Box
    *Fruit Rollup

  8. By the baseball cards they have those books with stickers you can buy - they are $1 for book and $1 for pack of 8 stickers/cards. They have football, Tinker Bell, Justin Bieber, Basketball.

  9. My little guy and I are putting together goody boxes now for his 3rd birthday. I didn't theme the items, but chose little boxes decorated in his chosen Cars theme. We've chosen several items from the ones mentioned here (many thanks to you all for the ideas!!!). We're really enjoying talking about what his friends like and why we share with them on his special day.

    So far it's:
    Play Doh
    Fruit snacks

    Sure, it's little stuff, but each item represents something he likes to play/do with his friends. I think sometimes what we adults see as cheap, crappy or useless is an awesome prize in the eyes of our kids.

  10. I like the idea about tickets for prizes. For my son's 5th Birthday party on Sat. we are going to have a treasure bag and every child can pick out 2 items. Was going to do silly bands, but am re-thinking that for possibly the hotwheels or something else. Also included in the treasures are fairy wings, hats (girly for girls, and boy oriented, too), beanie babies... Am SO over the regular goodie bags...or in our case, last year I copied a friend and did sand buckets w/ shovels but then i filled them with cool stuff like fun socks, books, dinosaurs that I got a good deal on at Joann Fabrics---was a hit, but a BIG hassel and expense...This time, back to the treasure box/bag like I did for my son's 1st birthday.

  11. I'm having a 5th birthday party for my son, who loves music. As a party favor, I have created a mix cd with his favorite songs and included a logo for him (that is printed on the CD). I am making the jewel case that includes his cover artwoek and a handwritten (but photocopied) thank you note.

  12. oh and i forgot to add something to my last post. Even though it's toy story party there will be 2 girls there so i need help on what i could give the little girls. I think they would enjoy the coloring but need something else to please the girls....the boys are easy to buy for! lol

  13. hey love your ideas for a goodie bag. any suggestions for a toy story goodie bag would be greatly appreciated. Having a hard time coming up with something more than printing off some coloring pages, crayons and stickers.

  14. Love goody bags - but do agonize over them and try to do something different each year. One year for my daughter's birthday party which included both girls and boys (she turned 5) I gave the girls tiara's and a matching wand and the boys a matchbox car and a checkered flag. BIG hit!!!

  15. I love doing goody bags. My favorite one was one I did for a christmas themed party. I put hot cocoa mix (gingerbread hot cocoa, and peppermint hot cocoa). Each guest got a different ornament, which made it personal. Then they each got some individually wrapped peppermint bark, small toblerone bars, and then different flavored candy canes. They also got a candy cane pen , it's ink smells like peppermint!!
    It was the best ever!
    Goody bags are a little memento of the party, and I try to give something people will remember!

  16. Great ideas, boys like match box cars good quality ones usually aren't that expensive, sometimes we make friendship bracelets and sparkly fairy dust, we have also made bath balms with a note inside, Carmel apples decorated with gummy bears. The kids love the token thank you gift.

  17. I know my daughter likes looking at the stuff in the goody bags, but they aren't enchanting in any way. I feel so so about it, but feel like we need to give them out to the students.

  18. I gave my daughter a tea party for her sixth birthday party. For the party bags, I purchased dollar store purses. In them I added the rings, plastic necklaces, boas, sunclasses and lip gloss. And requested that they were dresses. That way, they would have everything they would need for a tea party. I also made little sandwiches cutout with cookie cutters, everything was just very small bite-sized appitizers.

  19. i love the idea of goodie bags because when you give them out kids area automatically happy. they will always want to come to your parties

  20. I personally hate goodie bags because they are full of candy and junk little toys...for my twin girls 2nd Birthday, I had germinated some seeds 6 weeks prior and then once the seed started I planted them into creamer jars (bought at dollar store for cheap) and gave them out as party favors and the kids loved them because they could watch the flowers grow all summer long, and once they re-planted them they can use the creamer jar to water them with.

  21. I love goody bags if I'm the one receiving them. ;0P I've never filled one before but I think it would be fun to put candy and stickers in them.

  22. Goody Bags are awesome. They make wonderful take home surprises for birthday party guests or any other type of occasion. For adults we have included gifts cards at a local restaurant, tickets to the movies via Fandango, sample of See's candies etc. You are only limited by your imagination.

  23. We like them. I put in things that we can get a good deal on such as fruit snacks, candy necklaces, lip balm, pencils, and/or other little goodies.

  24. I love goodie bags!
    We paly bingo here at home for prizes.
    My kids just love all the little toys & goodies.
    Plus, playing bingo at home for fun teaches them numbers. Even my 3 year old know where to find o 75. It's amazing how winning a blow whistle or a magic maker can motivate them to learn.
    Thank God for Bribery!

  25. I love them! I put pencils, pens, stickers, bubbles, candy, and other little inexpensive things like that in them.

  26. I love goodie bags but they can get expensive to give out. We go to the dollar store (where everything is a dollar or less) to purchase kid friendly trinkets for the goodie bags to help keep the cost down. Thanks for the chance to win!

  27. I like the idea of goody bags especially for little kids as they should have something to go home with too.

  28. I would love to do goody bags but I can't afford them. The party, gifts and doing whatever they want that day costs a ton of money. You can get little trinkets at Party City that matches whatever theme you're doing for their party. Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. I love to hand out goody bags...although we do games and the kids will win the prizes for their goody bag. I always get stuff from the dollar store :)

  30. I have mixed feelings about goody bags. I would like to hand them out but with so many kids with allergies I do not like the idea of putting food items in anymore Also many of the little trinkets are made in China and may contain lead paint so shopping for goody bag items has become more difficult in these last few years for me These clips would be a great item to add to a goody bag for a little girls birthday [email protected]

  31. My kids love to get goody bags when they go to parties but they are such a pain in the butt to put together. Especially when you don't know if siblings are going to show up and then of course you don't want to give a goody bag to one child and not their sibling.
    [email protected]

  32. My sister had a great idea for goody bags. She gave each kid tickets and then let them cash in the tickets for some things they really wanted. She had a good assortment of items and it went very well. She saved the left over prizes for Halloween.

  33. Love goody bags because they are fun to create, and if you start way in advance and look for sales, they're not expensive.

  34. Great giveaway - I love their clippies.
    As for goodie bags, I'd rather get/give one item that is really useful or makes sense for the event rather than a whole bagful of "whatevers".
    In a way this ties into my principle of trying to teach my kids the value of things so that they understand and value what they receive rather than screaming for the bag that is filled more than theirs just because there's more stuff.

  35. I LOATHE goodie bags. That said, they're a great way to get kids to leave the party. I've done polaroid pictures, homemade CDs, bubbles, play-doh, and crafty things. I try not to put in candy because I know it gets the other parents mad.

  36. I think goody bags are fun. They don't have to be fancy and expensive. Kids love anything New. They don't even have to be New. My mom had a collection of Beanie Babies from a few years ago. All with the tags, never played with.. She sent them to my Sis In Law to put in my Nieces goody bags after the party. The little girls loved having Kittens, Teddy Bears and Puppies in their bags. Thanks for the giveaway.

  37. I have always loved goody bags. And I think my favorite "ingredient" is fun-flavored lip balm, because a girl just can't have enough of it :-)

  38. I don't like the idea of goody bags as something that's enforced, that you HAVE to do or otherwise your party isn't considered good. However I think there are probably many creative ways to fill them, and one way might be to go to the Dollar Store for the main item - also perhaps not everyone would receive identical bags, they'd be slightly different (but comparable in price!) like Crackerjacks prizes!

  39. I don't like them at all. Most of the stuff you can find to put in them is either junk toys or candy which my kids don't need. If I choose to make them (which is rare) I put healthy snacks like granola bars and trail mix. I might put a small quality toy in there too if I can afford it. Thanks, great post!

  40. I love doing goody bags and always have a tough time finding new things to put in them. Thanks so much for the tips.

  41. Goodie bags make or break the party. I love to give them to the kids and see their little faces light up. Great fun. Thanks.

  42. Toothbrushes are a great idea! There are always cheap ones to be found with kid-approved characters. My dd had a Charlie Brown themed party and gave out toothbrushes with Snoopy on them (found at walmart) and fruit snacks with Peanuts characters.
    I love the hairclips!

  43. How timely! My son is having his 7th bday party on Saturday and I've been working on the goody bags! His theme is Indiana Jones so there is going to be a treasure hunt (of cours, the treasure will be a box of goodie bags, one for each child) I was happy to find some fun items at the $1 section of Target - spider man activity pad & spider man decoder tablet. We also found some Star Wars Yo-yo's and we'll add some candy inside too.

  44. I love goody bags! Give's the kids something to look forward to! I think having bags with their names on it would be neat even if it were handmade!

  45. I love goodie bags. I have such fun putting them together because I loved getting them when I went to parties. My granddaughters last birthday was a ladybug theme so we found ladybug fun stuff for the bags. A deck of cards,comb,pencil,pom pom craft kit and hair accessories all with little ladybugs. Thank you!

  46. Thanks for including Moo G Clips in your feature.

    When I have customers purchase Moo G Clips for birthday parties, they usually just have the clips and attach them (they have a hole on the top of the packaging perfect for this) to a lollypop, a mini tiara, mini gloss, something like that. no need for bags or anything else.

  47. I love giving goodie bags at my son's birthday parties. When I was younger, the goodie bags were always one of the best parts of going to the parties. Thanks for the chance.

  48. I never went to a party where the guests received goody bags, and neither did my children. So, I have mixed feelings about goody bags.

  49. I like goody bags, and you gave some great suggestions. I usually just stick with small items, stickers, lip balms, bouncy balls, lil mirrors, matchbox cars, stuff like that. Thanks for entering me into the giveaway.

  50. I love them! I made bags this year for my daughter's friends out of my scrapbooking supplies. She was turning 13 so i added lip balm, rubber bands, cool pens and mini journals, some christmas treats (her b-day is 12/16) and stickers. They loved them!

  51. I'm super big on the goody bags, but I also don't invite a lot of kids to the party. The best "bags" I think I ever put together were little pirate chests for my son's birthday. I had it at a park where there was sand and we went so far as to bury the chests. Each kids received a map to help them find it. That was a great party.
    [email protected]

  52. great ideas thanks! my oldest turns 4 in a little over a month and so we are throwing his FIRST birthday party with other little friends. i have been trying to think of fun thing to put in a goody bag and this really helps.
    ps. don't enter me just wanted to let you know i appreciate this post :)
    counting down

  53. I love goody bags and think they are a bunch of fun. But I don't just save them for Birthdays - a couple of times a year I'll take goody bags over to my nieces and nephew, just because. Your ideas are great. I like putting in things like pencils and pads of paper too, I have yet to meet a kid, especially a girl, who doesn't like to write. Other things my nieces and nephews really like are stickers, homemade iced sugar cookies, yogo's and books - even used books from the used bookstore.

  54. WHen I was a kid, I always loved goody bags, so I plan to continue this tradition as my little boy gets bigger. I like the idea of filling them with things that are not "junk." Crayons and toothbrushes are great ideas!

  55. I know that my kids love Goody Bags so much. I'm so-so about them. I would prefer that heathy food options are given in them and some useful toys or pencils.
    Thanks so much.

  56. I dislike goody bags - they add cost to a party (which can mean you have to invite less kids) and I know when my son gets them they usually have a bunch of "crap" in them that I don't want cluttering the house anyways - so I prefer not to give them or to get them!

    autumn398 (at) yahoo.com

  57. I like to find things to put into the goody bags that match the theme (if possible). For a Dora themed party at the park I included little wind up pinatas (less than a dollar each at the party store) and sunglasses along with Dora fruit snacks and some other fun little trinket. For a princess themed party I put in Disney princess fruit snacks, beaded necklaces, and a pink slinky.

  58. depending on the age, they can be fun- i make special boxes for each child wrapped and tell them to open when they get home- they get itunes that I have earned, or nail polish sets, puzzles... we hae smaller parties and not big blowouts so I can do that and collect things year round..plus the dollar store can have some wonderful items to fill up things.

  59. I love em, they can be done cheaply with a bit a creative thinking the ready done sets not so fun. I'm not planning my eldests birthday till closer so I can figure a theme but, the bags will probably be decorated plain white or brown paper bags (the birthday girl can help) for a 5-6 year old. Right now I'm thinking maybe a rataouille kind of cooking party so a wooden spoon, a recipe card and a some ingredients for an easy treat and a sugar mouse.

  60. I think goodies to send home are fun, but I agree about not appreciating candy & plastic junk. Instead, a slightly nicer, single item is a great way to go. For Sam's 3rd Birthday, he had a "Clifford" themed party - so we sent each of his guests home with a Clifford book (you could find a book that goes with any party theme!) When a friend had a "Knights" themed party, they sent kids home with a fun foam sword.

  61. I got to say I don't like goody bags. I just hate the junk that the kids bring home. I don't want my kids expecting that they should get something when it's not their day.

  62. Goody bags are fun, but I don't really like it when they're filled with a bunch of candy or disposable toys. I think nothing's better than adding a packet of seeds or some flower bulbs. Kids love having little growing things to tend to!

  63. For the young ones, you can't go wrong with bubbles. I love the hair clips idea. Something the moms would love as much as the little girls!

  64. funny you mentioned the play-doh--i am a novice at planning children's birthday parties but at my daughter's one year celebration last saturday i gave away play-doh and also i bought a party hat cookie cutter and made frosted sugar cookies to give to the children! simple and not taxing, but they enjoyed the treats.

  65. I am no a huge fan of the goodie bag..Most of the items end up in the trash! I usually try to do a larger item that goes with the theme of my party. Here are some examples of what I have done in the past:

    -I had a "pretend sleepover party" for my daughter one year when she was 4 and I sewed each child a small pillow and gave them each a very small teddy bear
    -When I had a cowboy/cowgirl themed party I gave each child a cowboy hat and bandana
    -At a cooking themed party, each child recieved an apron and a liquid measuring cup (which we used as our cups for the day)

    1. I love your idea! What would you give for a Carnival/Circus theme birthday party instead of the goody bags? It's a 4 year old birthday party.

  66. I'm with you on not liking to send kids away with cheap and ultimately useless trinkets. Since having a kid, my ideas about presents and goodies have really changed. I don't like to have my child's life filled up and cluttered with junk. I've always tried to give thoughtful gifts, but now more so than ever before. I love your ideas. As an artist, I especially love to put art supplies-watercolors, crayons, small sketchbooks--into goody bags.

  67. I do LOVE the goody bag at a party! I recently bought bubbles for my daughters goody bag. I like the idea of the hair clips though. It is something they can really use as opposed to candy or junk toys!!

  68. Wow, you have some really great ideas for party favors! I hope I remember this in another 6 months!

    I really sort of hate the whole party favor thing - it's stressful and adds more expense to the party. And every time we've given out party bags, just before the kids leave the party, it turned into total chaos. Although that might be stopped by handing them to each child on their way out the door, I've never found that particularly easy, either. And maybe it's my imagination, but I totally feel like parents are going to critique my party favors and feel ripped off if they aren't up to their standards. Which makes me feel like I *can't* skip the party favors, even if I want to.

    I miss the old days where you brought a present to the birthday kid, and that was that. Now it seems like there's this constant fair trade: You give someone a present, they give you one back right away in the form of a party favor. Only, half the time, those favors include small, breakable trinkets that parents just hate to have in the house.

    But your ideas are good. I like them. Useful and still budget-friendly.

    (And the hair clips from Moo G are just adorable!!)

  69. I actually enjoy the whole Goody Bag experience when throwing a party for one of my kids. I always keep it themed to the party. One time, we had the kids decorate their own cupcakes at the party. Everything was cupcake-related in the cupcake decorated goody bags.....stickers, pencil, a pack of mini-cupcakes, etc.

    I don't enjoy when my child comes home from a party and the goody bag is worth more than the present he brought!!

  70. Personally hate them..I end up throwing most of them away. Last year for my daughter's pool party I gave mini sunscreens, spray bottles, and sunglasses. At least the parent's could use the sunscreen.

  71. I generally like goodie bags. I love them when they contain any of the above, though! Fresh crayons are always appreciated!

    I saw a blog where the mom made purple and pink lavendar-scented glitter play dough as favors. It was a fairy-themed party!

  72. as a kid goody bags had stickers, candy and maybe a small toy or pencil. My daughter is having a party in a week and we have play doh, pencil, candy and whatever else my daughter picks. She makes interesting picks in the past she has given seed packets (age 4), tea bags (age 3), whisles, and other stuff I can't recall.

    1. I suggest you should point some good things out to her and say that all the kids will like it. For example some small thing of bubbles, or one baloon in each one.

    2. Could have used some actual ideas and alot less complaining and criticizing. After all its for the kids, thats what is most important and matters right? You don't have to break the bank to do a fun goodie bag. You can do your best to make it cheap as long as you invest some creativity and thought. It's about the kids...not the adults. Thank's for all the help guys :(

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