Having a craft at your child’s birthday party provides a chance for guests to settle into an activity (rather than running wild), and a cool goody bag makes a nice memento of the party. Combining the two ideas can also work – guests make crafts which then go into the goody bags as favors.
But what kind of crafts and goodies work best? These days, with food allergies and childhood obesity becoming real concerns, many parents are choosing to forego the typical candy- and junk food-based goody bags. Here are some ideas for birthday crafts and goody bags that everyone can enjoy.
1. Make your own goody bag
Purchase small cloth or canvas bags at your local craft supply store. Let guests decorate their bags using fabric markers and paint. Stencils and rubber stamps are an alternative to brushes for applying the paint. Hang the bags up on a piece of yarn or laundry line to dry – they will look decorative, and will be visible so no one forgets his or her bag before leaving.
Variation: paper gift bags with handles, which can also be purchased in bulk, can be used instead of cloth. In that case, use markers and paints that will work on the bag’s surface (acrylic paint and permanent markers adhere to slick surfaces; tempura paint and washable markers work on mat and paper surfaces).
2. Painted rocks
Painted rocks provide wonderful keepsakes and playthings for kids of all ages. For young kids, a bug theme might be fun; pipe cleaners can be glued on some of the rocks as antennae ahead of time, and kids can paint the rocks according to whatever bug design they imagine. Rocks can also be painted and displayed as keepsakes or, in the case of larger ones, used as doorstops. Provide the paint and a variety of brush sizes and shapes.
3. Pasta necklaces
Pasta can be purchased in various colors these days. The day before the party, sort out tube-shaped, colored pasta into bowls according to color. If you can’t find tubular colored pasta, you can color macaroni, penne, etc. yourself by mixing 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol with 4 drops food coloring in a zip-top plastic bag. Add the pasta and mix well by kneading and shaking the bag. Dry on paper towels overnight. Guests can string the pasta onto elastic or yarn to make jewelry.
4. Small potted plant
If you have a garden or a prolific houseplant, you can root cuttings ahead of time. Or, you can purchase flats of seedlings for your guests. They can decorate the pot, too, and the little plant makes a great favor. Easy plants to care for in a pot include herbs, such as parsley, mint, and oregano, and easy houseplants like jade plant or bamboo.
Here are some ideas for goody bag favors that don’t involve candy or junk food. Remember, children under 3 years of age should never be given any candy or object that presents a choking hazard.
* Mini tubs of Play-Doh
* Figurines in animal shapes
* Bubble solution and wands
* Balls in age-appropriate sizes
* Crown or tiara
* Toy vehicles
* Mini books
* Journal and novelty pen/pencil
* Art supplies
* Water guns or Nerf guns
* Nail polish or nail stickers