Give my kid any more of these party “favors” and I will end you.

8 worst kids party favorsMy house is overrun with crap toys. We have several bins of plastic junky stuff that my girls never play with but yet can’t bear to part with. And you know where we get all this crap?

Birthday party “favor” bags.

I put “favor” in quotes because parents who give my kids this crap are doing no one favors. Amiright?

Every single time after every single party, Annie comes happily bouncing over to me with a little plastic bag in her clutches. She waves it gleefully, yelling, “Look what I got!”

And I sigh, preparing myself for the onslaught of crap that Annie will enthusiastically ooooh and ahhhh over. Until it breaks. Or breaks something of mine. Like a window. Or my spirit.

Here are some of the worst offenders:

Makeup. Because it’s so fun to discover at 7:30am that your 5yo has smeared on green eyeshadow, bright pink lipstick, and glittery blush, and declared herself ready for school. I was kind of hoping this wouldn’t happen until she was a tween. But thanks to party favors, we have already had several makeup arguments. Yay!

Gum. I’m okay with some chocolate or sugary candy that I can dole out as bribes later. But gum? For preschoolers? Why not just send them home with Sharpies? Because they can do similar damage to my kid’s body and clothing – and my furniture.

Whistles. Really? REALLY?

Yo-yos. Seemingly harmless. Easy mistake to make. But do you know how frustrating it is for a preschooler to try to use a yo-yo? And you know what yo-yos do? They get tangled up. And guess who has to untangle them over and over? Yo-yos are also dangerous projectiles, as my face can attest to. Just say no to the yo-yo, people.

Bouncy balls. Talk about dangerous projectiles. Kids come home from parties and want to bounce the crap out of those things. Your kid gets his hands on a bouncy ball and it’s like racquetball game suddenly began inside your house. Say goodbye to your windows, picture frames, and lamps! Get ready for a trip to the doctor’s office after your kid’s eye and the bouncy ball get intimately acquainted!

Weapons. Water guns. Slingshots. Bows and arrows. WTF? I sent my kid to a birthday party. I don’t expect her to come home ready for battle.

Typical junky plastic crap. Cheap-o jewelry, silly bands, jump ropes that don’t work. Pinball or maze games that immediately break, leading to tears of frustration. Teeny tiny choking hazard toys. Stupid mini-coloring books with pictures too tiny to color. Anything that makes noise. This should ALL BE BANNED. In the end, it all ends up cluttering my house or sitting in a landfill. Total waste.

Anything alive. I’ve heard of parents giving out goldfish or beta fish as party favors. Thankfully this has not happened to me. If it did, I would march right back to the mom throwing the party, hand her the baggy o’ fish, and tell her we are unfortunately allergic to pets. And starting then we would be officially allergic to her, too.


I know, I know. The junk toys are easy. We’re tired parents and we don’t have the energy to make fancy party favors. I hear ya.

To that I say get thee to Target. The dollar bins often have great stuff. Once for Annie’s birthday I found wildflower seeds, little buckets and shovels, and books about butterflies. Packaged them up and voila – $3 favors that were super cute.

Another time when Annie was younger, I got bubbles, chalk, buckets, and glow sticks from the dollar bins. That was another cute $3 favor.

And if you’re too tired to think of some creative party favor (like I was this year), just give each kid one extra-large lollipop, say “thanks for coming!” and send her on her way (like I did).

I may have given the party attendees a little sugar high, but at least I didn’t add to the never-ending crap collection their parents undoubtably loathe, right?

What are the best and worst party favors your kids have received?

Honest Voices linkup at NEW

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73 Replies to “Give my kid any more of these party “favors” and I will end you.”

  1. Ugh, my beef is with the cheap-o fast food toys, which I can tell you they don’t get when they’re with me, so I’d like to know where they’re coming from… I think they’re made in the same place as the junky party favors, though.

  2. I’m the mom that sends kids home with the little themed rubber ducks that spew water until they’re caked on the inside with the black, nasty mildew. But, my kids usually keep a few, so I share in the pain.

    This year, we’re going with temporary tattoos and a costume piece (we’re having a come dress-up Neverland party for my 7 and 2 year old), and a box of chocolate gold coins, of course.

  3. Giant lollipop – okay. Gum – not okay.

    My kids know they’re not getting everything in a goodie bag anyway. Why not just say no to the things you object to?

  4. I gave all the kids at my sons superhero party comic books from the 50 cent bin of our local comic book store. I pre-checked them for violence. Everyone was stoked.

  5. I am always on high-alert at a party, ready to intercept the passing out of party favors. It seems like goodies bags are usually a parting gift, and the kids are too jacked up on the fun they’ve have to notice the bonus prizes, so I have time to sort through accordingly. I know the friend’s parents who hand out this crap would be less than thrilled to have it handed to them. So why do they do it? We haven’t yet entered the age of ‘drop-off’ birthday parties. I’m thinking that’ll start next year. Maybe bags full of crap will be an acceptable trade-off for some time off mom duty.

  6. AMEN! I love this post. The plastic nonsense toys are the worst! Such a waste. I completely agree about the $1 section at Target. How about go old school and just some crayons and a coloring book.

  7. I totally get where you are coming from about the party toys. It’s not worth it for the parents buying that crap to the melt downs they cause the kids when it breaks or doesn’t work. Thanks for the tip about the dollar bin at Target!

  8. I love you for writing this post! I hate all that stuff. Why is it that we think we even HAVE to give out stuff? One of my sons got a little model car set that was really cool. The mom had gotten it from Michael’s for $1. It was something he could do and use! I like bubbles, anything that’s actually useful. Choking hazards and other crap that breaks – no thank you. It’s just more stuff I have to throw away while the boys are at school!

  9. I laughed at this because it is so true. My kids have come home with all of that stuff, except for anything alive THANK GOODNESS! I like things like sidewalk chalk, little notebooks, bouncy balls (that they can play with OUTSIDE), or even little things of bubbles. Yes, all things you can get at the Target dollar store! 🙂

  10. We went to a birthday party hosted by Mackenzie at Raising Wild Things and the goodie bags had toothbrushes in them. My kids and I were STOKED. A friend gave mylar balloons as party favors recently. That was an awesome idea, too. I have no beef with plastic toys. For some reason, they stay intact forever at my house, and the kids love them.

  11. I’m all for bubble and glowsticks… Although it’s always a battle to get him to throw away the glowstick once it stops glowing. How about those shitty prizes from the dentist? They’re worse than the worst goody bag toys. I throw them out after a week.

  12. A friend did superheroes last year and made all the boys a felt mask and cape. I did a princess tea party this year. Had a friend make some felt tiaras for them(which they loved!) and I made them some princess wands—a short dowel rod package from the craft section, sparkle-ribbon, and a spool of pink and purple ribbon. EASY and the girls LOVED them. One thing I did, was for one game, the rewards were stupid plastic rings and bracelets. But I didn’t get anything that was going to break like the necklaces, LOL

  13. yo-yo's…also considered containment devices for little sisters ;).
    some gifts just leave you thinking… do they know my child? do they know their own child? lol.
    very funny!

  14. LOL! I’m guilty of all these things. Well, not the whistle. Because COME ON! I’ll have to scope out the dollar bins at Target. That never even occurred to me.

  15. Amen Sister! I couldn’t agree more! Last month, for my daughter’s birthday party, I gave each kid a huge bubble wand with bubbles…quiet quiet bubbles. My husband said “That’s it? That’s all they get? Shouldn’t they get a big bag of junk?” Hell NO! I know the mother’s appreciated it.

  16. I totally agree! Why do we feel the need to give the favors in the first place? I am not sending my kid to a party to collect a favor. The party is fun enough. Definitely don’t like the dangerous objects and the ones that go directly to the landfill. We usually do stickers or once, we had each kid plant a seed to grow something they could plant in their yard. (For a Wall-E themed party that was about the same time as Earth Day). But, really if we all collectively agreed to stop with the favors, we could all stop with the favors. It would be environmentally friendly and hassle free!

  17. Haaaa! This cracked me up. I often feel guilty that sometimes I do not give out parting-gifts. I have been known to make brownies or give out stickers and maybe some candy. One year, we did a book-swap instead of presents and this was everyone’s parting-gift. Funny, funny stuff. As always, I love your perspective and wit. Thank you for sharing “what NOT to do”. Love it.

  18. I have been a mom for 14 years with three children. I have had great goody bags and bad goody bags! I have also obsessed over my own goody bags. I will tell you that a plastic bag with cheapy toys do not last long at my house. Somehow they just magically go to the great Goody Bad Heaven in the sky!! My favorite ones are books for little ones, sand toys, card or mini games, or hair things for girls. One of my favorite parties that I threw for my daughter was a tea party. We made nose gays, and decorated goody bags with stickers and crayons. The girls went home with the bags, the stickers and crayons and the bouquets that they made. I still get praises for that one three years later. Target is a great place to get things, and I have never spent more than 3 or 4 dollars either. 🙂

  19. Oh man, this is soooo one of my pet peeves! Not only are favors usually a bag of junk but that junk adds up! One year for my son’s birthday I made cookies in the shape of his favorite superhero at the time, decorated them and handed them out in cellophane bags to the kids. Time intensive, sure, but I refused to go the normal goody bag route. I usually find all those crappy pieces on the floor of my car after the kids have dumped them out post-party.

  20. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I never minded the cheap toys, because they break quickly and get thrown away. I would not have been happy with a seed packet. Those cheap wildflowers often include weeds, and if I want to start a new garden bed, I like to decide for myself what is planted in it. Personally, I wish people would just stop with the goodie bags.

  21. You speak the truth, lady! I will admit, especially when my daughter was still little, we were kind of stingy about sweets. The worst party favor incident occurred at an evening party- one that ended at 6:30 or 7:00- for twin two year old boys. Keep in mind- these are for two year olds! It was rough enough sending our kid home from the party hopped up on cake and juice just in time for bed, but then the hostess gave us a LARGE cup and told our toddler to scoop up a cupful of candy from the “favor box” on the way out! Of course, I’m sure I ate all the candy myself. So maybe it wasn’t so bad.

  22. My two pet “favour bag” peeves: Gobstoppers for the under-3 crowd (which you then have to be EVil Mom and take away before they try to choke on them as you drive home), and anything alive such as goldfish. Thanks for the endless bowls of smelly water to clean and the elaborate upcoming fish funeral, Party Mom.

  23. Ooooo, my favorite is cute little throat sized pencil erasers at toddler parties. Ummm… thanks for the choking hazard? Really? WTF is my two year old going to do with a pencil eraser other than die? Really…

  24. Thank God I never got a pet! That would have been a game ender for me. I am at the point I think I am just going to hand each kid $2 at the end of the party and wish them the best. Win-win.

  25. Anything alive? Are you kidding me? Who is giving away alive things? I'm glad to get my kid back alive. That'll do for me. I have to admit, I did just give away bouncy balls at my first kid birthday party on Sunday. I was trying to think of things kids will actually — — — USE, as we're all full up on crappy toys as well. My kids love balls (that sounds bad), so I figured balls would work. Never again. And I also just recently wrote a post about what to do if you find yourself having to throw a birthday party. One item on the list? FORGET THE ELABORATE PARTY FAVORS. Stick to candy, stickers, and tattoos. The rest is a waste. Also? Don't throw a party.

  26. “…and I end you…” that had me laughing so hard! I am in TOTAL agreement. I found a way to get even with the Oriental Trading Company Crap Crew. In lieu of the “goody” bag, I got each child an inflatable mallet that squeaks. That’ll learn ’em. 😉

  27. Oh I so totally agree with this list! We usually do bubbles or play dough with some candy. I heart Dollar Tree. We have a birthday coming up in 10 days so this was a good reminder. I usually forget until 2 days before in an Oh Crap Moment.

  28. Okay, so the WORST party favor my kid came home with was from a nursery school party — when he was 2. He came home with one of those paddle ball thingys with the string that could wrap around his neck … and the ball that could take his eye out … and the staple that could do something dangerous I’m sure. AND — yes, there’s more! — RED. GLITTER. GLUE. I am still hunting for the mom who gave my 2 year old RED FRICKIN’ GLITTER GLUE. There’s not a jury of my peers who’d convict me either. Am I right? Who’s with me????

  29. Bubbles and glowsticks were my go-to goodybag loot when my son was young, although I would have preferred we skip the goodybags altogether, because I just threw a party with games, food, cake, decorations and now I’m supposed to shell out for goodybags too? I did give them out because my son would have been horrified if we didn’t but I did it grudgingly

  30. I have to admit I don’t do party favors. Terrible mom? I just figure we all have enough crap to keep up with in our kids’ closets that I don’t need to add to that. Besides, they get cake, ice cream, pizza, and loads o’ fun at the party!

  31. People are giving out Beta Fish as favors? That’s crazy. Once my kid got an ant farm for a birthday gift. I was like I’ll remember this and you will be getting it back as a gift when your son’s b-day rolls around!

  32. My kids have an affinity for crap. All kinds of crap – as long as it’s totally useless and they know it’ll drive me insane. And don’t even think about throwing out the crap, because they remember ever.single.piece.of.crap.EVER.
    They have brought home mostly plastic dollar store stuff from any parties they’ve gone to here – that’s one thing I actually miss about living in Germany – there kids only get stuffed with sugary candy, no party favours.

  33. Love this!! So, so true. I always wonder “How would you feel if I gave your kid this crap?!?!” If I wouldn’t want my kids to get it, I don’t give it. Some of the best ideas I’ve seen are take home cookies or snacks, books, and Krispy Kreme gift certificates!

  34. Omg, all of the above and the worst is actually being allowed to take balloons from the party home. My girls fight over them like they are gold. I kid you not and do you know how many times balloons have mysteriously popped while they are sleeping, so that we can get on without the fighting the next morning. Too many times that I lost count, lol!!

  35. My kids have until bedtime to enjoy their junky crap and then it goes I the trash. I am lame, I give out plastic cups from the dollar store and fruit snacks. I figure if people don’t want plastic cups, then at least it’s recyclable.

  36. Thank GOODNESS we’ve never received a goldfish for a favor, because that is just not welcome here. Well, you have two goodie bags coming your way soon, mwaaahahahahaha! (Just kidding. You’ll like it. I think.)

  37. What would it take to get everyone to stop giving out goodie bags (you know, because they have just been at a PARTY!)? What about a FB page we can sign up to? Think of the savings of money, time, to the environment, the nerves of mothers…..

  38. Holy hell. Goodie bags at class parties are the absolute worst. Who the hell wants an un sharpened pencil??? I don’t even own a pencil sharpener. Temporary tattoos- no thanks. And if the container of bubbles is so tiny that you can’t tell if you’re blowing bubbles or pollen, then just don’t.

  39. What a great linkup concept! I will be joining in the near future! That’s so funny about party favors. I loathe them too. I’ve long since pledge to just have “no gift” parties; that way I don’t feel any guilt for not sending home favors!

  40. I buy favors from either the Target bins or Michaels. They have such cheap toys that are so much more interesting than the stupid cheap plastic crap. For Luke's last bday I gave out little put together gliders that you slingshot, a balloon (from the party decorations), and a lollipop. No one really needs goody bags, and we all know this as parents, but it feels wrong to not give something since everyone else does. If my kids got a helium balloon they'd be thrilled. Dollar store even does mylar balloons for only $1.

    1. Yesterday Anna got miniature jawbreakers out of a piñata. Steve and I have been fighting about her eating them for 12 hours now.

  41. I buy favors from either the Target bins or Michaels. They have such cheap toys that are so much more interesting than the stupid cheap plastic crap. For Luke's last bday I gave out little put together gliders that you slingshot, a balloon (from the party decorations), and a lollipop. No one really needs goody bags, and we all know this as parents, but it feels wrong to not give something since everyone else does. If my kids got a helium balloon they'd be thrilled. Dollar store even does mylar balloons for only $1.

  42. I buy favors from either the Target bins or Michaels. They have such cheap toys that are so much more interesting than the stupid cheap plastic crap. For Luke's last bday I gave out little put together gliders that you slingshot, a balloon (from the party decorations), and a lollipop. No one really needs goody bags, and we all know this as parents, but it feels wrong to not give something since everyone else does. If my kids got a helium balloon they'd be thrilled. Dollar store even does mylar balloons for only $1.

  43. UGH I know! I like putting food in favor bags. My kids are always too busy to eat at the actual party. So on the way home, they can dig in! And little bags of goldfish or juice boxes will never go to waste. I can grab them before we leave the house on our next run to Target 🙂

  44. I thought this was hilarious! Great post. I’m about to host a part for my 7 year old and would love some great and practical ideas for party favours. If I can save some pain I’m all ears!

  45. I think the candy is the worst. I hate picking up my kids with a bag of candy after a party where they just had cake and ice cream. They inevitably beg to have it on the way home and then I become the killjoy when I set limits.

    When my daughter had a sports party, we gave out little nerf-like balls to each kid. This year, we are throwing a movie party and giving every kid the children’s book that the movie is based on.

  46. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
    though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to

  47. Best party favor we ever received was at a May party & they gave each kid a pool noodle. For $1 each, it could be useful all summer long! Perfect!
    I've given paty-themed water bottles with candy inside, & later saw parents at various sporting events using them, which made me so happy! Hooray for fun AND useful gifts!

  48. Last year my daughter turned 6 on December , Of course theme of the year Frozen!!! We gave the kids an ornament for the Christmas tree, I found a beautiful snowflake, 75 cents each, we add a pencil magic wand (1 dollar each) and a chocolate.
    After the party we received some text messages with photos showing the ornament on their trees.
    My daughter was so happy!!

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