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Birthday Loot Bag Ideas: Reader Question

Birthday Loot Bag Ideas: Reader Question

My daughter’s birthday is coming up and I’m facing the challenge of the dreaded loot bags. I’m trying to embrace the frugal lifestyle and was wondering if your readers had any ideas for loot bags. -Rhetta

Do you have any ideas for Rhetta? Please share in the comments!

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  1. Julie

    I go to the craft section at Dollerama. They do the craft as an activity at the party, and then they can take the craft home with them.

  2. Shanny

    We never actually do “bags”! I usually just send people home with homemade food. For example, for my oldest’s 4th birthday, it was a Mickey Mouse theme so everyone took a Mickey Mouse on a stick! It was made with Rice Krispies (big circle with 2 little cirles stuck on), dipped in chocolate and then 2 white chocolate chips for eyes! Super easy and cheap. I’ve also giving cupcakes away many times. If I want to give “things”, I usually send home a craft thing (like a few stickers, so crayons and paper).

  3. Donna Maroulis

    If you have a local dollar store , they are a treasure trove of inexpensive party favours. also , if you plan ahead, there are many places you can collect free items for loot bags from during the year. Service Canada has free colouring books with a water safety theme, most health units have the same. The SPCA have a Childrens Magazine that is free, the list is endless.

  4. Paula

    I have tried to come up with many different ideas than the “loot bag”… I do love Dollarama but I can tell you there is nothing more I dislike than my child coming home from a party with a bunch of plastic things that goes in the garbage…erasers, pencils, fake jewellery, etc. I decided years ago, I would still do the $5 loot bag per child (or under) but make them very special. No dollarama goodie bags!
    One year I did gift cards for $5.00 each, Subway, McDonalds, Diary Queen. I enclosed them in a “Thank You” card that was already pre-made by my daughter. Each one said “Thank you for making my party special” and her name (She was only 7). I had her hand each card out at the door as each guest was leaving. The gift card was inside ( I whispered to each parent so they would make sure they got it when they got home) and we also stuck a chocolate bar on each one so the child felt like they were taking something home.
    I also had a friend who went to a speciality candy place, had a $5 container for each child made up with candies all over the world. A label was put on them at the back! Really neat!
    One year my daughter had a tea party. My mother in law sews so we had pillowcases made up with tea pots on them for each girl to take home. A nice reminder and a pillowcase to use. Another friend had a pool party and she wrapped beach towels up with some candy and handed them out as the goodie bags. You can always get beach towels discounted at the end of summer. She did that and had an indoor pool party for her son in January for his birthday!
    I have also done make up kits for my daughter’s birthday. She is a January birthday and after Christmas make up kits are always reduced! I bought little ones with boas and attached balloons and they went home all cute walking out the door!
    My other friend found “goldfish” books and attached a package of goldfish crackers! Books are always great.
    Last year my oldest had a party and I found these pink diaries and matching pens in Winners (months before the party)! They were great for 9 yr old girls! .I put a chocolate bar on the top and wrapped a pink ribbon around them. Each girl loved them!
    Just think outside the box…stay away from the dollar stores! Keep your eye out all year on clearance racks, etc! Look in places you wouldn’t never know what you may find!!

  5. Kelly

    I would do a $5.00 gift card to Mc donalds or Dairy Queen. It is quick and easy..

  6. Jennifer

    While my daughter is long past the party stage, we often did one “prize” for everyone instead of loot bags. Her birthday was in teh spring so we have done inexpensive toys likes kites (from the Dollarstore).

    Another idea, depending on her age, is making things like lip gloss and other “spa” products at the party and leting the girls take taht home (only works if there are no boys). There are loads of websites with recipes to choose from and Spa parties were always a huge hit.

  7. Coral

    What I have found to be a good idea is that when each child comes into the party we took a photo of them with the birthday child, as the party is progressing my husband printed off the photos and put them in dolar store frames. When the children left, they left with their photo in frame with a candy/chocolate bar attached.

  8. Jaclyn

    I like to get each child a craft kit from either dollarama ($1) or Michael’s ( you can find them for $1.49 each sometimes) Then I buy the coupons from McDonald’s for free ice cream and fries etc (they have books of 12 coupons for $1 certain times of the year) and I get the kids involved by doing some sort of baking for the kids to take home. This year we made cupcakes in several varieties and they did not cost much to make as I had coupons for most of the baking materials and I bought the 4pk cupcake holders from MrB’s warehouse for pennies so everyone took home a 4pk of homemade cupcakes along with their crafts and coupons. The year before we made candy and caramel apples for everyone to take home which again did not cost much as we bought the apples from a farm 1/2 bushel can’t remember the price but a great deal and made the syrups homemade with baking products I had in my pantry.

  9. Tammy

    What I have done before for my daughters ( depending on the age of girls). I went to Ardene’s they have awesome surprise bags that are 2 for $5. Every bag is different and sealed, so it is truly a surprise when they open it. It is usually filled with hair accessories, socks, lip gloss, jewelery. Some very neat stuff. They also carry the bigger surprise bags that are 2 for $8. These are great treats…I even use them to stuff in my girls stockings for Christmas. Hope this helps.

  10. Samantha

    My daughter’s birthday was in May this year and I went to the dollar store and bought a sand bucket and filled it with sand toys, stickers, and pencil crayons.

  11. Erica

    This year I bought a big box of crayons (you can buy them at the craft store with a coupon!) and will be melting them down to train shapes to match the birthday theme. I’m also going to print off some train coloring pages and a candy or 2 and that’s it! I don’t like the bags full of dollarstore stuff, it ends up in the trash.

    My friend also did pumpkins for favors for an October party!

  12. Wendy

    For my sons spring birthday (May) I went to the dollar store and got 1 flower planter for each child. Then I went to the garden store and got a big bag of dirt and a strawberry plant for each kidlet. It worked out as a gift to take home and an activity for the children to do at the party. They had so much fun playing in the dirt and planting their strawberries and the plants lasted all summer 🙂

  13. Melanie

    There is a great buy on at Coles/Chapters right now. They have activity books, creature books etc for $2. These are a great buy. They give an item that will not go into the garbage because it is broken an hour after the child gets home. We have a January birthday boy and always keep our eyes open for the after Christmas discounts at Coles/Chapters.

    Another suggestion that my sister has used in the past. When dinky cars go on sale (sometimes you can get them for under a dollar) she picks them up for party favours. A dinky car is highly prized by little boys, will not break as soon as they leave your party and will give them lots of playtime later.

  14. Andrea

    Talk about a timely post! I went to three different Winners stores yesterday to find a Melissa & Doug craft for $1.20! (marked down from 5.99) I learned that eventhough I found the kit at HomeSense they do not price match the Winners price (they were selling it for $5.99). My husband is quite handy – so he may make a lid for the wooden box the kit comes in and the girls can work on the lid at the party. We are going to have a “princess tea party” and make a couple of paper crafts and the Melissa & Doug gift can be taken home with them.
    We also went to a birthday party on Dec 18 and the mum gave each of the girls a gingerbread house to take home. (She said she got a great deal – and I had seen some around at $4.99) I thought this was a great idea – since I’m not a fan of all the little plastic junk that I end up throwing away.

  15. Elizabeth

    The expectation of children to receive a ‘loot bag’ ‘party bag’ gift bag’ from the hostess is just too much for me. We stopped with that last year. My kids have each had two birthday parties with take home bags. The contents were not loaded with cheap dollar store toys, there was only a few items in there that were practical. A notepad with the child’s name on the front and a few stickers, and with a string attached and a taped pencil on the end to use when ever and where ever (great for the car or at a restaurant), a pack of new crayons, a small bouncy ball, and one year was included a thick pencil crayon with 4 colours swirled inside (from Micheal’s). This last birthday of my daughter (she turned 5), we had the birthday party at Micheal’s craft store in the party room. We put food stuff and craft items in the bags. This last birthday of my son (he turned 8), he chose NOT to have a birthday party and take the offer of money instead (a portion of what it would have cost to hold at an at home party), and he was thrilled with that and he bought exactly what he wanted. The whole expectation of the loot bag is not OK with me. I have been to 3 , 4, and 5 year old parties where I hear kids at the start of the party exclaiming “when do we get our loot bag”. Everyone to their own…but I’m done with it. We have always taken a photo of the guest and birthday child and sent a copy and thank you note in the mail. Kids are thrilled to get fun mail! Aren’t you?

  16. Samantha

    I have in the past not done goodie bags at all.
    This year I gave out a kinder egg in a bag that I made in the shape of an owl (to go with the theme)
    For another child I gave each kid a surprise Lego minifigure pack ($3.50) Playmobil also now has surprise packs.
    I have gone all out and sewed crayon wallets put into canvas bags with the recipients photo ironed on to the front!

    This year I’m giving each person a sundae surprise box – which I’m pretty sure I found on this site or on simply frugal.
    For my younger son I’ll be making scented playdough and putting them into mason jars with a themed fabric for the top.

    Depending on how many children you are expecting and what your budget is – a gift card for $5 to chapters (I would NOT be happy with a GC from Mcdonalds or anywhere junky like that), a local coffee shop. OR you could incorporate a craft into the party and they take that home as their goody “bag”. I’ve picked up from Michaels paint your own mugs for under $5 (the markers were the expensive part) T-shirts with fabric paint.

  17. jesi

    We recently had a house party with 8 little kids mixed among the adults. We did a treasure hunt and ditched the loot bags for a big crayola activity kit. I scored big at michaels one day. I got a deal on 50% off an activity kit over 24.99. Plus buy one and get a free kit valued at $34.99. 8 gifts ($239.92 value), paid $49.98. The kids used the kits at the party and the other parents were super impressed : )

  18. Cathy Simon

    Giving out one poster per child is very cost effective and most likely to be used and not thrown in the trash in a few days. I used to host birthday parties every weekend at my work and this went over really well. The parents seemed grateful to not get a loot bag too.

  19. christine

    Whatever you do , include bubbles! You can probably get 4 small bottles for a dollar at Dollarama and personalize them with the party girl’s name

  20. Lisa

    My daughter’s 4th birthday party was Princess themed so I made giant crown cookies & decorated them with each child’s name & princess chocolate lollipops. I also included a $1 bead necklace kit from Michael’s (bought on 20% sale day) which I took the wrapping off of and repackaged with pink cardstock that read Princess Jewels. Simple & budget friendly @ less than $2 per.

  21. jennybookworm

    Others have mentioned similar ideas but I’ll put my two cents in too!
    On my daughter’s 7th birthday the kids all decorated small flower pots as a craft at the party with paint, ribbon and other crafty ‘bits’ and then we planted pansies or marigolds and each child took it home – activity at the party and a gift to take home. Another year we hired a face painter to come to the party which the kids LOVED – they knew they’d get a turn and didn’t have to wait in line – while they waited they decorated picture frames and when their face was done my husband took each child’s picture, printed it off and it went home that day in the frame – the kids really loved it! Another year we took the kids bowling and instead of loot bags I made them all custom bowling shirts — t-shirts from the craft store and I used fabric paint to draw a big bowling key on the front and then I added each child’s name since I knew exactly who was coming to the party – my daughter’s was special because as the birthday girl I added her age to the bowling key on the front of hers — I saw kids we knew wearing those shirts long after they even fit them anymore (I bought them big so they would last too!) because they loved having their names on them.

  22. Brianne

    I really hate getting loot bags from birthday parties. I know the kids like them… For the moment. I would suggest a seasonal gift. For my nephews birthday in December we purchased each child a plastic $1 crazy carpet from Walmart. The year before was a advent calendar also $.97 each at Walmart. Hope this helps

  23. Leanne

    While dollarama is inexpensive the majority of the stuff there is cheap and will end up in the garbage. I always try to find something that will not get thrown out. Last year for my youngest I had a bunch of candy that I got from the bulk barn along with a few other theme related things that I got from the Samko Sale that were inexpensive but not junk. I did spend a little more on this one because I was really trying to stick with my theme. In the end the kids got to fill their own bag which they really liked.
    Some others I have done are stickers from the Sandy Lion outlet, lots of great things you can do there. For the girls I filled a little plastic purse with stickers and for the boys I got a little wooden box from the dollar store and filled it with stickers. I used stickers to put their names on each. I also got scrapbooks from the same outlet for another party and disposable cameras from the dollar store for another party.
    For other parties I have gotten board games from the Samko Sale for like $4 or $5, they also have lots of crayola products there, as well as puzzles for something like $2.

  24. Leanne

    Opps, the scrapbook and camera were for the same party.

    Another good place to watch for deals is Superstore. I keep my eye open for things throughout the year and buy as they go on sale.

  25. Deb

    My son’s birthday was in early November, we went to the zoo and I took a bunch of pictures. I sent a PowerPoint to each of the parents and in the final slide we shared that we had donated money to the Chum City Christmas Wish on behalf of the kids.

  26. Jenny

    In the past I would give $5 gift cards for each child and put the card in a loot bag with some inexpensive candy. Girls love getting gift cards from Claires, you can also get Wal Mart cards or McDonald’s cards. If you’re going to spend the proverbial $5 per child anyway, it may as well be someting they can choose and it won’t end up being a bunch of cheap trinkets that will end up broken and in the garbage in the next day or so.

  27. Roz

    At my kids parties, (I have three of them and each party is within a month of each other) we have the kids do the pinata thing and every child gets a little bag to put all their candy in. At the end of the party, I have a basket full of all the McDonalds’ Happy Meal toys( or Harveys, Swiss Chalet, etc.) that I have collected over the year and each child gets to pick one to put in their bag. I have done this for the past three years and each child seems to love to dig through the basket, pick a toy they want and they have won all their own candy with the pinata.

  28. danielle

    Mabel’s Labels is great!! They also have a “loot bag” option.
    Kids love stickers in general, and they love to identify their own belongings.

    I believe it is a min. order of 6 (each one personalized) and they are $5ea (free shipping too!)

  29. mary

    i just keep it simple……chocolates, candies, crayons, colouring books, kids aren’t fussy (as long as they have their friends, family & sweets they’re happy!!) its the parents that more pressure on themselves…lol!

  30. Jamie

    I try to avoid dollar stores when doing “goody bags” because I hate when my kids come home from a party with a bag filled with junk. The odd time there are decent items, generally speaking it’s garbage and a total waste of your money. Instead, I prefer to shop at clearance sales and get good deals on decent items. I’m also pretty cheap, so $5 per kid with a total of 8-10 kids is WAY too much for me to spend (especially because I am already spending lots of money to even host the party and I can’t justify adding another $50 just to say “thanks for coming”). One year I found those freezer mugs on clearance for 25c each so I bought those and put a few smaller things inside (can’t remember what went inside, it was 8yrs ago). Most years I find good quality bubbles on clearance and I buy them anytime I see them marked way down (there is no point in buying cheap bubbles because they just don’t work so you may was well throw your money in the garbage). Most years I also find buckets and shovels and other sand toys on clearance and these are even fun to give in the winter for playing in the snow. Right now is a good time to look around for the c-mas bath/beauty gift sets on clearance and you can open those and break them up between a few kids.
    I have also explained to my kids that a venue party is more expensive so they have a choice between spending the budget on a venue and cake and drinks, or staying home and buying more food (pizza, party sub, drinks, snacks, cake, platters, etc. They pick the food they want and I make sure we stay on budget) and also buying stuff for goody bags. I’m not going to spend a ton of money on everything they want at a party, they have to make some choices.

  31. Nikita

    Homemade cake pops or candy/caramel apples, or a bag of cotton candy. I make a little tag to attach to the item, tie it with a ribbon and I am done!

  32. Jennifer

    Hi there, I usually do something to eat, one year I made chocolate chip cookies for my son’s 2nd birthday party and put them in paper bags. Last year I did chocolate covered licorice in cute loved it. My daughter’s 3rd birthday we did gingerbread girls and boys (her birthday is in December). I usually try to do something eatable and eco friendly if I can no plastic. Good luck.

  33. Diane

    For my daughter’s 10th birthday, we had a red carpet theme. Since it was during the Christmas Holidays, we had everything in stock for baking. We bought plastic (glass like) plates,cellophane wrap and ribbon. Filled the plates with homemade goodies, wrapped,and with the ribbon, tied a mini disco ball ornament to finish the look. The next day at school, my daughter said her guests were telling everyone else what a cool party she had and how they loved their thank you gifts.

  34. jennifer

    Hello there!

    If the kids enjoy playing with play-dough, you can make your own playdough by following a simple recipe off the internet. Try adding a packet of kool-aid drink crystals (or any other cheap type) to seperated parts of the dough to make different colours and fragrances like grape, strawberry, lemon… etc Kids love the different colours and smells. Package them in small plastic containers from the dollar or craft store. Get the birthday girl/boy to help make the dough too before their party. Hope this helps!

  35. Cassie Howard

    Wonderful ideas. Thank you so much for sharing, everyone!

  36. Ainsley

    Try simple thing that kids love like chocolate and gum.

  37. michelle

    i was thinking about maybe
    – chocolate
    -nail polish
    -eraser in fun shape
    -note book
    -keychaine for school backpack

  38. mellissa

    I dont fill a loot bag with candy or junk. I give a small toy away. Eg. A barbie bubbbles
    Skippping ropes hair ties. Usually its pretty close to match theme of bday party

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