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Why I Think Birthday Party Loot Bags Are Unnecessary

Elliott turns 3 years old today! I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for 3 years. It’s true what they say (whoever they are): time flies when you’re having fun!

This weekend we threw a small birthday party for Elliott. Most of our family was busy, unfortunately, so only a few family members could come (some friends/neighbourhood kids came as well).

When I was planning the party, I kept having Pinterest images pop into my head. I needed the coolest decorations, the most delicious food in a multitude of flavours and types, games galore and amazing loot bags that people would be talking about for ages… but then I wondered… “why do we need to give out loot bags anyway?”. I’ve never really understood why you are supposed to give presents to other people on YOUR birthday. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I asked a few friends with children what they thought, and they said that loot bags were kind of a “thank you” for coming to the party. Which still doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t all the food and entertainment thank you enough?

My husband and I talked about it and decided that loot bags were not for us. It was an expense that we really just didn’t find necessary at all. We had tons of food (we gave leftovers to lots of people to take home, there was so much!) and my friend brought over the most amazing bouncy castle for the kids to play in. We had a pool, toys and lots of other fun stuff. From what I could tell, everyone left happy and there were no complaints about the lack of loot bags.

People have been telling us they had a great time, so we deem this 3rd birthday party a success – even without loot bags!

How do you feel about giving loot bags at birthday parties?


  1. chantal

    I see it like you want them to get out at the time your party ends so give them a bit of the party to go. I make pinatas so they get some candy from that, i buy a $1 book to add to it and last year i made cake pops to add to the bag. Bubbles, glow stick ect, just memories of the fun time they had. Also any arts and crafts they do will fill the bag.

  2. Jennifer

    Sounds like it was a great party, and as long as the kids had fun that is really what matters.

    When my daughter was young, I opted to give one “gift” rather than a loot bag, because as you say it was really expensive. One year we gave out kites, another water toys and as she got older, inexpensive jewelry, bubble baths, hair accessories etc. It was A LOT cheaper than filling goody bags.

  3. Linda S

    My youngest just turned 3 last week and we didn’t do any loot bag. It is a waste of money. I think kids expect them as they grow older. But it was not miss at this birthday, and it was a success!

  4. heatherinparis

    In my opinion Birthday Party Loot Bags are just one more bow to the worship of stuff….and usually crass sleasy stuff at that. Who needs more hard plastic, garishly coloured bits to clutter up children’s rooms and be tossed aside after a few minutes?

  5. Catherine

    We actually don’t really do loot bags either. They’re always filled with bunch of garbage that my kids aren’t allowed to have. (ie. chewy candies, sticky bubble gum, hard choking-hazards candies, noisey whistles etc.)
    So a few years ago we started buying our mini guests an actually gift. Mostly things we could find at the dollar store that were under $2-$3. We bought books, balls, stuffed animals, action figures, make-up bag & lip gloss. Then we would decorate it with a balloon or even wrap it. It was usually just one thing and we never gave additional candies as we know that the child had probably had plenty of junk food at the party. So far it’s been a great success and our children’s friends actually get excited now wondering what the gift will be. lol

  6. rebecca

    I haven’t done loot bags either, never seemed necessary. I was thinking this year giving the kids a balloon and a cookie that my son and I made together…..

  7. Terri

    I have never liked loot bags, because for what you end up spending on them it ends up averaging $3-$5 a kid. And they are generally small cheap toys that break with in a day.However I am fortunate that my sons birthday falls in January so in the past I have bought board games on clearance after Christmas for $1 or $2.Now that he is older though almost 11 I am stuck with trying to figure out ideas for that age group, that wont cost me. Last year I did tshirts decorated them myself with a glow in the dark paint.

  8. Linda

    I don’t really do loot bags (anymore). I sometimes do some games with prizes, and a pinata, but that’s it. Sending a THANK YOU CARD, should you choose to send one, is the ‘thanks for coming’ – not a gift! However, at my son’s 6th bday this year, I had THREE children ask me “where’s my loot bag?” when parents came to pick them up. I was shocked that the parents weren’t embarrassed, b/c I was embarrassed for them. Manners. Wow.

    I also don’t give my children birthday presents (mean, right?) They are now 6, 4 and 1. The older 2 understand that the wicked party I throw for them and their friends IS their gift. And they’re fine with that. They know they get enough from others!

  9. Amie

    For my son’s first birthday I opted against the loot bag. I was debating making cake pops or cookies or something but it was just another expense. I had also thought of things like bouncy balls or bubbles, but again another expense.
    I did have thank you cards made up with pictures from the party. My plan didnt work out exactly how I wanted but, what we did was have a photo booth. I had some monsters that were cut from MDF. About four feet tall and fun fur was added. We stood them behind a few chairs and tried to get all of the guests to get their picture taken. I had wanted to use each individuals pictures as a thank you card for everyone, but my sister wasn’t crazy on the idea of making thirty different cards. So we ended up just printed one card with pictures of my son.
    Again, there is cost involved as I had to get the cards out to everyone after the party. If I could do it again, I would have a printer set up to print them on the spot.
    I’m not crazy on the crap from the dollar store and I really don’t want my child having all of this extra junk food.
    I LOVE pinterest!! But has anyone else noticed how much junk and sugar they give their kids at those parties?

  10. Pamela @

    I have to agree with the other commenters, usually loot bags are filled with cheap, plastic toys & candy, so I’m not big on them either. At one b-day party we went to, they gave away t-shirts in the loot bags, which I thought was a good idea, but depending on how many kids attend the party, could end up costing a lot more than the traditional loot bags. So, I think you have the right idea – it’s better to have an awesomely fun party without the added “gift” at the end 🙂

  11. Keri

    I love giving loot bags. We don’t put your usual junkies toys in ours. When my daughter had an Abbey Cadabby party I made homemade playdough to put in, we found Sesame Street colouring books at the dollar store and crayons there and homemade star sugar cookies. I put the goodies in a sandbucket I also found at the dollar store. I would rather give things that encourage creativity and fun than stuff that will break on the way home or more sugar. Parents have told me they always love to see what is going to be in my treat bags. It ended up costing me about $2 per kid.

  12. Shanny

    I don’t really like loot bags neither since they’re usually filled with little toys or things that the kids will break or loose quickly. They cost a lot in total for IMO, junk. However, I don’t give nothing to the guests. I always write a simple thank you note tag and attach it to a home made treat. I have made Rice Krispies treats in a stick in the shape on Mickey one year, a cupcake another year, a bag for leftover candy bar I had for a Halloween birthday, etc.

    I like this idea because it’s a little more than a thank you note, but doesn’t take up any room. You just eat the little cupcake and it’s gone. And if you don’t like it, give it or compost it – no harm done and peanuts spent on it for me!

  13. Shanny

    Kari, I LOVE those ideas!

  14. audrey

    I always spend too much on loot bags for my girl’s birthday parties … I love putting them together and often buy things on sale in advance. This year I discovered Ardene’s surprise bags … either $5 or $2.50 each … and a ton of girl stuff in them … that’s what I’m doing since I can’t seem to get past not doing them!

  15. Tanya

    I try not to do loot bags either – usually they are just filled with cheap, tacky, junk toys that break, and yet more sweets – and they can end up costing so much. Instead I have also done the photo booth idea for my daughters 5th birthday luau, and other years I have just given a slice of birthday cake with a balloon on a stick. This year I did actually do loot bags for my son’s 9th birthday though because we kept his party simple – swimming and a bbq. I just got stuff from the dollar store like sparklers, funny shaped balloons, bubbles and temp tattoos. I also added a slice of cake and a lollipop. It won’t become a habit though for sure!

  16. audrey

    .. on the other hand … I hate getting them as we end up with junk stuff everywhere that I have to throw out! I always try to do something like a dollar store art book and drawing pencils, note pads and pens … Michael’sclearance bin is another great place to find stuff … I did a craft bag last time. 🙂 … but yes they are not necessary and you shouldn’t feel guilty not doing them! I had one party that gave out $7 Toys R Us gift certifcates in lieu … that just seemed silly to me … kind but silly

  17. Carrie

    I, too, detest loot bags, giving or having my child receive them! My son’s fourth birthday party, one of the activities was decorating sugar cookies, and the kids took those home as their ‘loot bag’. It gave them something to do (December birthday means no outside activities!) and something fun to take home.

  18. Michelle

    I like to give out something to the kids who attend my son’s party. But I agree, some of those loot bags are ridiculous and full of junk that just ends up in the garbage. My son turned 6 in June and we had a LEGO themed party. I did give out loot bags which included a pencil/pencil topper, lego block candy with a thank you note attached, full sized smarties (that I covered to make it look like a lego block!) and a LEGO minifigure. It cost about $5/bag but with only 6 kids attending it wasn’t so bad!

  19. Erin

    I skip the candy and do something fun instead. This year I gave out make your own playdough kits. It wasn’t expensive but it was still fun and for me it helps teach my kids that birthday’s aren’t just about getting but about giving and being a good host too. For my son’s birthday we made pirate hats and one year we gave out dollar store water guns. Our budget for birthday’s is tight but this is an inexpensive way for us to still give something.

  20. Gemma

    I personally love loot bags at a birthday party. I think that makes the party and the kids then get something else to look forward to before they leave and will remember that the party was fun. You will always remember “that kid who had a party without the loot bags” and it’s sure a downer to remember that.

  21. karen

    My kids are teenagers now, but several years ago my group of moms agreed on no loot bags and a dollar amount limit to birthday presents. I also limited the number of kids coming to the party (ie. no full class parties where your child receives 30 gifts). One of the best parties was when the girls did beading, making their own necklaces, bracelets, etc. and took them home with them. Another one the girls decorated clipboards and picture frames and took them home.

    Another family always requested a small gift under 10 dollars, and a bag of food to be donated to the local foodbank. The family decorated a large box, and every year, the kids looked forward to seeing if they could fill it. It was a wonderful example to all the kids.

  22. Anna

    My son’s birthday is at the beginning of the summer so we usually include a water fight. I buy a multi pack of water squirters and each child may take one home. I agree with the comments about junky bits that get thown in the trash. I like the lego and play dough ideas.

  23. Frugal Edmonton Mama

    We don’t do Loot bags but we do some sort of take home gift. This year it was buckets with shovels that coordinated with her party colors and filled them with unicorn stickers (her choice of theme), a bottle of soda (for the moms and dads) and Lollipops.

  24. Tauna

    I do loot bags, but not the usual junk, for my daughters 4th birthday she had a sledding party so we gave out crazy carpets ($1 each) my other daughter is a summer baby so outside sand toys or bubble kits are the go to

  25. connie

    I am totally for loot bags. The reason being that young children are just learning to be generous. The often will help pick out the birthday gift for their friend and then cry when they figure out they have to give it away. If the get something small at the party, it encourages their generosity. As well, the opposite is good for the birthday boy/girl. At the end of a party some kids will jealously guard their new toys and will forget their sharing lessons. If they are giving back to the kids (even something small) it helps them to become giving people as well.

    As the kids get older and have learned the sharing lessons, then the loot bags are less necessary. My kids at some point gave up a bigger party so that they could give better loot bags, I was very proud of them.

  26. MaricrisMas

    OK…you’ve been to our crazy big family parties…we kinda/sorta do lootbags…but we have stations with games for the kids and adults to play…when they play/try…there are no losers…they get a prize…and can play multiple times…so…it’s kinda a make-your-own loot bag…we always have a craft table…my daughters 2nd bday…we had a Princess theme…so the craft table included making your own crown…in 2010 was the winter olympics…so we did a winter olympics theme…each guest was given a tag/lanyard (from shoe laces) with their name…and a sticker for each game they played…when they collected a sticker from each game they got a bigger prize…got visa gift cards from the Nestea thing…got Olympic hand towels as a big prize for finishing…and collected wonderbread upcs for free wonderbread/olympics pins…which were really cute to put on their lanyard…we cut expenses by buying candy and stuff off-season (ie. after halloween, christmas, valentine’s day)…we often also run one or two adult games (and give baskets of couponed goodies) when we say thank you and before cutting the cake…so…yes…we kinda do lootbags…and yes…that $30 Little Tykes bouncy castle has been around about 5 years…and kids love it everytime we take it out…whether it be for fun or parties!

  27. whiskybaker

    We give “loot bags” at our dinners – it’s something I got from my mom. It’s not really a “thank you for coming” but a “here’s something to remember the evening for.” I think the same thing will apply for loot bags for our little guy’s birthday parties. It seems like most of the complaints are that the items in the bag are “crap.” I love Keri’s idea of matching the items to the theme if there is one. That’s what we do with our dinners. We had an octoberfest dinner and guests went home with a beer mug and opener from our local brewery. Not cheap, but that factors in to our decision on what kind of party/how many to invite.

  28. Theresa

    I loved doing loot bags…using creative things instead of always actual bags. It was never cheap to do though. My years of birthday parties are over though…10 years old was the cut off.

    I don’t remember my kids not getting goody bags when they went to parties, but I remember the one party where the mother stuck a plastic ring and 3 old candies in a bag. It was cheap and would have been better if she had done nothing.

    I always did creative at home parties and did not try to compete with the double income families that were having blow out parties at different venues. The kids always had a blast. I so enjoyed thinking up new themes.

  29. Lynn

    For my sons sports themed birthday we managed to find some basketballs at a outlet store for only $3 each!!! As we had kept the guest list low (about 10 children) the cost wasn’t too bad considering you could easily spend much more filling loot bags with junk that could later be thrown out! The children (and parents!) left very happy and we even saw one of my son’s friends playing with his ball at the park weeks later!

  30. Jamie

    I don’t feel strongly either way. Sometimes we do them and other times we don’t. One year Zellers had those freezer mugs on clearance for 25c so I bought those and put a few small things inside them (stickers, bubbles, etc). When my oldest turned 8 or 9 we did a craft where we painted and decorated little wooden boxes from the dollar store and put in some nail files and fruity soap that I bought for cheap. Basically, if I haven’t found a good enough deal to do it cheaply (and to me $5 per kid is NOT cheap) then I don’t do it at all. If it’ a craft, then I don’t mind spending $5 per kid. I never do dollar store junk ones and I hate when people give them to my kids. It’s only a waste of money if it’s filled with garbage, IMO.

  31. Betty

    I don’t know what everybody considers “junk” in a dollar store. I guess junk is in the eyes of the person buying stuff. For girls I used to give skipping ropes (good exercise for the girl, they love skipping & they only cost a dime each when Woolco was sold out to Wal-mart a long time ago). For boys, I used to give them toy cars (what boy doesn’t love a car or two to play with). straw cowboy hats (keeps the sun off & prevents sun burns), plastic playing cards so they can play go fish, crazy 8’s, etc (teaches them social skills), rubber balls to bounce on the sidewalk or up against the school wall during recess (hand eye co-ordination). So I guess I just see the positives more than the negatives for kids for so called “junk” from the dollar stores. Oh & before I forget, activity books with dot to dot, puzzles, etc. are always a hit & educational at the same time. Loot bags were expected & I didn’t want anyone disappointed. Those same kids played with all the loot bag goodies every recess & lunch hr. while they were at school for many months to come.

  32. jenn

    We never do loot bags. We always do some kind of craft based on the theme of the party. So its a two in one, an activity at the party and something to take home.

  33. Laura

    My two children are grown up now, but when they were younger and birthday parties were pretty important both going to them and having their own. I was a single parent so money was very tight. I used to buy games, expensive nice toys ect when they were on sale or clearance for cheap and put in a box that the kids and I had decorated called the birthday box. Whenever they were invited to a party they would go to the birthday box and pick out a present. This worked very well as we always had a nice gift to give and I was not stuck scrambling to get a gift when I did not have the available funds. For parties and loot bags, most of the times it was theme related to the party and we did a lot of home made gifts for the bags, like home made slime, finger paint, play dough, cookies, ect. I would also buy on clearance or sale colouring books/crayons/fancy pencils ect to give as tokens of thanks for coming to the party.

  34. Lee S.

    I love the idea of loot bags. It gives my son/daughter the chance to stand at the door to say goodbye, thank you and “here is your loot bag” to each of the guests that attended their party. I love it that they feel the responsibility to make sure that they are taking care of each of their guests, being good hosts. They realize that it is “better to give than to receive”! So many lessons!!! As an extra bonus they get to choose what goes as the main gift in the loot bag. We have done “sippy cups” and filled them with candy, sand buckets with candy, or t-shirts that the kids decorated at the party as a craft. We have also given away aprons. The kids decorated cookies at the one party so they each had an apron – they took theirs home! They don’t have to cost a lot, but imagination and love go a long way!!!!

  35. Dezra

    We do loot bags. I think after a day full of attention and presants it’s nice for my children to give back at the end of the day and show their appreciation.

  36. Jessie

    I grew up in a “no presents please, no loot bags” family. I hated it as a kid.
    I now have a 4 year old son, who had a ‘games’ birthday party. We made a bunch of bean bags (me sewing, him stuffing), and at the end of the party each kid took 3 home, as well as a Rice Krispie treat (a crinkly package!).
    We requested, in lieu of presents, to consider a small (max. $10) piggy bank donation so he could buy a new bike.
    We were very happy – he got to choose a new bike, and we didn’t pay for it!

  37. Brandy

    Loot bags are “evil” it is the most stressful part of a birthday party, I did a $5 Chapters gift card as I probably would’ve spent that on a whole lot of Dollar store stuff, so I figured this way they could put it towards something useful.

  38. amber

    i hate all the small junky toys so since my kids are still young they dont really expect a loot bag so i take them right away after we leave a party and usually give them each one little toy to play with in the car on the way home then at home all the other cheap toys get put in a bag then by the time i have a party for my kids i just use all the stuff i collected and make my own loot bags with it then i dont have to spend the money on all that junk my sel

  39. Janice

    For small children, we don’t do parties. For tweens and teens, we do parties.
    We have a cake from Baskin Robins or Dairy Queen, one present and birthday cards. We all sing.

    The children love this tradition!

  40. BigDog

    My kids’ parties usually involve some type of craft so the kids go home with that…birdhouses, painted pottery, etc. My son’s last birthday was spent going to a hockey game so we gave the 4 kids (guest lists are kept small) he invited mini-sticks (from the dollar store) with a handmade note attached that read ‘thank you for celebrating with me’. My daughter has been to ‘pirate parties’ where there’s a treasure map to follow and buried ‘treasure’ in a ‘treasure chest’ (gummy candies, costume jewellry) to dig out of a sandbox. My son has been to a ‘scavenger hunt party’ where the kids collect small items to put in their loot bags. I like these ideas and also craft parties so the kids have an activity to do and they get a small token from the party. And by the time the activity is done it’s cake time and then open presents and then they all go home lol.

  41. Kris

    What we view as dollar store junk is absolute treasure to kids! I put stickers, erasers, pencils, bouncy balls, bubbles, little plastic animals, etc. and usually a couple of candies.

  42. Pinkmin

    Loot bags may be unnecessary but if you’ve decided they’re not for you, make sure to let the hosting parents of birthday parties you attend know that you will not be taking a loot bag from their party. You shouldn’t really take what you yourself do not believe in giving.

  43. The One Income Dollar

    As a kid going to parties, I always looked forward to them as part of the party.I found them to be the best part of the party! However, yes, as a parent, an added expense. I know when my girls were younger they would be very disappointed when they would come from a party and not get a bag as we always gave them, plus MOST parents did as well. I guess it’s about what you can afford and personal preference.

  44. Melissa I

    I do the loot bages, but then get stressed out about how much money I am spending-lol This year I had to make 12 loot bags, and wish I had of started sooner, because I didn’t find too much on sale. These were for 7 year olds. This year I plan on gathering things on sale well in advance(while I am doing my regular shopping), I am waiting for the back to school sales at Staples, you can get some really good deals, they should be coming out soon. I will stock up, kids love pencil crayons and paper. I like to add snacks that are prepackaged like Cakesters-oreo’s. One year I got some good deals at party packagers, they had clearance bins. I got a bunch of party games gifts. I do not like to get the doller store stuff as most of that goes in the garbage, but there are a few things there that are ok, like the finger lights and stuff. However, after all the work, I always wish I got the kids a $5 gift and just get it over with that way. I give the loot bages because I rememebr them as a kid, and they were always fun to get. Yes the cake and games are a gift, but I like to send them home with a gift too.

  45. karen

    Junk is stuff that fills up our homes, landfills, and teaches our kids that stuff makes us happy rather than experiences. Loot bags are an unnecessary expense and in my home causes a lot of tears and stress when they break within seconds. My kids will take what is given to them but I will not compete with the “Jones”. For my own kids birthday they have two kids come and I put money into an art project they can bring home, or once gave the kids their own Plasticine to model and take home in a little Zippy.
    I avoid Birthday Parties and my kids only attend the ones of real friends, and if if the party small /relational. I watched my friends declining very good educational experiences or family activities because or a kids birthday party that the child just knew from class. Birthday parties has the potential to take over a families schedule, and communicates to kids that friends are more important than other family priorities.
    Also I tell the two friends that my kids have for their play date party that if they really want to bring a gift a gold ward book from Value Village or garage sale is enough as a gift.

  46. AmandaN

    I agree! didn’t want to add to the trinkets and toys that most kids have so much of… but I did cave and ended up buying some tiny clay pots and planting mini-aloe vera plants in them (the “babies” from the one I own that is constantly being stressed because I forget about it).

    This year I’m trying to come up with another “plant” that I can do the same thing with. I need something that will sprout in time for September.

    The original plan was to paint the pots but that didn’t happen. “Thanks for growing with me!” Maybe this year.

  47. Ann

    I think loot bags are ridiculous. We have spent up to $100 at our small town dollar store because that is all we have to choose from. Some friends shop on line at party shops for pre packaged theme goods. A waste of money in my mind. These kids are so young and we are teaching them that they should benefit from another kids birthday.

    I have been to parties where they get a balloon at the end and the kids think they are in heaven.

    Really, when you think about it, it is the parents who want to look good to the other kids and have their kids be popular from money.

  48. AmandaN

    Apologies, I have to add: Think about what you are teaching your children when you rant and vent about these things around them. They do hear you, even though you think they aren’t listening. They learn that they should expect to get stuff for no reason and if they don’t it is someone else’s fault. What are you teaching your children to value? What are you teaching them to be grateful for? There really is a bigger issue at here, as I read more and more.

    I long for days that we, as parents, and as a society, spend our time supporting one another and teaching our children the same. Celebrating our differences and accepting them, rather than judging those or making excuses for why someone might do something different that what we expect.

  49. Jaclyn

    I grew up in a small town and let me say that the first time I got a loot bag from a birthday party was when I moved to the city. Were we lived the gift you received for coming was the food, the cake and if the budget allowed, the entertainment. We grew up poor and maybe that was why we never gave or received loot bags from parties… That being said now that I am grown up and have kids and see how excited the children get from their loot bag gifts I always do a little something at my kids parties. Since loot bags are mostly filled with junk or candy or toys that fall apart or break when you use them I try to give something substantial or homemade. One year we gave pumpkins that the kids first drew on ( Halloween b-day) since I love baking I often bake a variety of nicely designed muffins in themed muffin boxes. All done within my budget and the kids are happy which is all that matters that the kids have fun!

  50. Ruth

    I don’t think it is necessary as it is a big expense but like Chantal before me, I have done a pianata every year for my son and the kids enjoy the effort to break it to get the reward! That would be their loot bags so to speak! This year I even skipped the traditional loot bags and used lunchbags I had on hand. It works well as I put a variety of candy in and basically they scramble for what they like and this way you’re not wasting trinkets on kids that may or may not ever get used. My son never nags us for anything and sometimes doesn’t even ask us for a specific birthday present, but he always asks if we can have a pianata. His friends always comment on how much fun it is…and as it is with my son, candy is really a treat to them too!

  51. Linda

    I don’t have kids, but I was one lol. I was always surprised when I was invited to a birthday party because I was so shy lol. Especially a boy in our neighbourhood who invited girls and boys to his (I had my few girl friends at times, but mainly just had family for birthdays). He threw interesting parties whereby there were contests as well as games and such where one would win a prize. No loot bags, just fun memories.

  52. Amy

    My daughter is only 20 months so I’m not too sure how I feel about this. At my friends 2 year old’s party she gave out little “gifts” instead of gift bags to all the babies so they would have something to open when her son was opening his presents. Just little books or toy cars, it was neat. At my daughters 1 year old “party” there were only two little ones there so I just bought two box of smarties and some coloring books at Walmart. I think a few pieces of candy to a little one is a big deal, and it is totally worth the few dollars I have to spend to brighten their day.

  53. Jennifer

    Hello, I completely agree with you. First of all, whenever we get loot bags, they tend to be “junk”….throw away toys. What waste. So what we do at parties for my children is have activities….at my daughter’s 3rd birthday the guests decorated fairy crowns, face make up, went on a jewel treasure hunt, danced…these are experiences. Aren’t these things what people remember? Who needs yet another pack of stickers, colouring book, etc.? Children need to learn to give without expecting something in return.

  54. Louise

    I not only agree with NO loot bags… but I also agree that birthday parties should by at home simple celebrations. back when a cake, ice cream and a light lunch (maybe) and a good round of happy birthday to you. if age appropriate a few games. limit the number of child for your child’s age.
    I was also at a party where the invitation stated that the child was blessed with many toys and that the parents were giving him a large toy and guests need only donate to a specific charity (i think it was the operation christmas) although I have seen them for the children;s hospital too.
    So simplify the party, the invitations, the gift giving and NO loot bags.
    let them enjoy the day of celebration. If they are over 7 you could make it a one friend day ending with a movie.

    good thoughts….. enjoy the summer.

  55. betty

    not necessary.

  56. Helen W

    Well, the whole idea stems from a good place. You are thanking people for coming to your party, for buying a gift for the birthday boy/girl, and bringing home a little something to remember the day. It is the same idea when you go to a wedding, and bring home a little gift. Do I think they are necessary? No, not at all. Do I think many of them are way too much? Yes. I like the way my sister always did it. She bought each family one of those large size chocolate bars, or plastic containers of jelly beans from Walmart. Easy, consumable, and not too expensive. Overall, I think its nice but those who are competitive about it are missing the point.

  57. anna

    I have always said I will start the new trend of NO LOOT BAGS when i have a kid. Not only is it not necessary but kids learn to expect gifts on other kids` birthdays. Kids need to learn to be unselfish and learn how to be happy for their friend, cousin, or sibling when it is their birthday and learn that that day is about the birthday child and not themselves. My son just celebrated his first birthday and I followed what I preached. Now others are following.

  58. Elizabeth

    Boy, it’s easy for parents to consider loot bags “unnecessary” when it comes to hosting their child’s birthday party! I think giving to others on “your” day is an important part of showing hospitality, friendship, and gratitude… That whole “thank you for coming to my party” tradition at the door when a guest is leaving is really charming, and nice when there’s a little loot bag to give.

    I think loot bags really are a nice touch at a birthday party. Not every child has birthday parties your child will be invited to (some may only have family parties), so it’s nice to be able to give them something right away. As a kid, I really enjoyed being able to “take home” some part of the experience to share with my family. I don’t think people should buy “gifts” for siblings to prevent them from being jealous of the birthday boy/girl though — kids need to learn to be happy for others and enjoy the party traditions rather than expecting gifts to open because someone else is getting them.

    I love doing loot bags, especially with good-quality things the kids will be able to use/enjoy. If you’re tuned into sales, you can definitely get some great things to include for very little money. My son goes to a home daycare, and I make the kids (and the daycare provider and her kids) some kind of loot bag for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, as well as my son’s birthday. (And he enjoys having a cake and being able to give out loot bags to his daycare friends on his birthday) I think it just makes certain times of year kind of special. At different times, I’ve included things like books, Smarties, Crayola crayons, Crayola markers, colouring books, Play-doh, clothing,Matchbox cars, little Webkinz,summer toys, etc. I even found UNO card games on clearance at Superstore for $0.44, and, for older kids, travel games like Monopoly, Clue, Operation, etc. for $1.00 each. My son’s birthday loot bags this year cost less than $2.00 each, but the items would probably have been worth $15.00 at regular price.

    I do like the above poster’s idea about keeping it simple with a family-size chocolate bar or a tub of jelly beans to share at home. It needn’t cost much to do something nice.

    Keep in mind that straying too much from traditions can be confusing to some kids… I remember being invited to a birthday party when I was in Grade 1. I think it was being held at 1:00 in the afternoon. Well, I hadn’t had lunch yet, as every other party I’d gone to involved lunch. My mother must have thought the same. I didn’t know what to do when we were seated at a table covered in bowls of candy, chocolate, cookies, and cake. I didn’t eat anything, because in my view of the world, I wasn’t allowed to eat treats before I’d eaten lunch.
    Maybe money was tight over there, but a simple, inexpensive lunch of hot dogs followed by cake would have saved me. Sometimes changes to expected traditions can be an uncomfortable surprise to a kid.

  59. Shannon

    I think loot bags are okay, especially if with something nicer or more useful than dollar store junk or gross candy. It is cards that get me..why spend $4.99 on something that is just going to be thrown away anyway. What a waste of precious paper.

  60. barbara

    my children are all young alduts now, I used to love making loot bags, playing games and always had a fish pond..the kids all loved it..I would buy things on sale and the kids all went home with lots of goodies…

  61. Monica

    I remember getting loot bags when I was a kid. I loved them. Useless toys, and often thrown out after a week, or got broken, but kids love em. Loot bags are not necessary, but if you have the extra money, I say spend the $10 at the dollar store for the loot. It’ll be another childhood memory that the kids grow up with.
    My daughter turned 3 this summer as well, and while I did not have loot bags since I didn’t have children at the party, I do plan on doing loot bags for her birthday once in a while (not every b-day) when she’s at school age.

  62. Mel

    I am actually a big proponent OF lootbags. I love the idea of my son giving (rather than receiving) and I love the excitment of the kids leaving with a little token. I try to have useful items (or one big item, that’s the best!) rather than dollar store toys. In fact, if I had my way, I would have NO GIFTS for my son and only lootbags for the guests (he is too young to ‘get’ the donation thing, but I hope to do that!). I agree that it should not be an expectation to have a loot bag at a party, but sadly, as they get older, it is! (even if they don’t say anything when leaving, you can bet an older child will wonder why the party didn’t have one). I have seen some amazing ideas for loot bags that don’t cost much, but are a nice thank you (and boy do the kids eyes light up – priceless in my opinion). For example:

    – A ziplock bag separated by a clothes pin (making it a butterfly) with grapes on one side and fishies on another for a little after-party snack (could also do that with Candy)
    – A ceramic pot with a bag of seed for the kid to plant (pot decorated as a craft during party)
    – Art supplies (markers, crayons, etc…)- super useful
    – Small craft (Michaels has tons)
    – A nicely decorated cupcake box (done as a party craft) where the child put a take-away cupcake to eat a bit later (cupcake decoration is also a great party craft).

  63. Olusola

    I loved loot bags as a kid so I will definitely be giving them out at every birthday we host. I try to make them fun and educational. The last set had sticker books/coloring books, crayons and edibles. no matter how much fun kid have at a party, I think a little something to take home is the icing on the cake for them.

  64. Mia

    I don’t think loot bags are unnecessary. I think it’s nice to thank someone for coming to your party and bringing a gift, the same way you would at a bridal or baby shower, or at a wedding as someone else has already mentioned. However, I can see how they might seem a little unnecessary when the child is too young – loot bags would be a tradition I would do more for school-aged children. It’s a nice gesture, and there are lots of ways to put together loot bags full of useful things (or consumable treats as other people have mentioned).

    I loved loot bags as a kid, but what I remember best were the ones that I gave to my friends – as opposed to the ones I received. I think it’s nice to turn that into an experience for your own child. It’s even a good learning experience. (They learn to help you shop for the treats, make sure there is enough for all the bags you are making, divide the treats equally between the bags, etc.)

  65. gloria

    I also feel that loot bags are not necessary. The children will have had there fill of goodies during the party anyways. If anything–give them an apple sauce snack pack upon leaving.

  66. Meaghan

    Just seeing this though it is a year old. This year I have made a small loot bag now that my son is 8, but I usually don’t throw in the stupid cheap toy and crap candy. When he was younger I have given a shovel & pail, or a frisbee, bubbles, a flower pot my son painted & a packet of seeds. This year he is 8. I bought white baseball caps and fabric paint that they (just 7 of them) will paint and take home.

  67. Angie

    i think it’s time to stop the loot bags and just have a simple birthday celebration with cake food and friends and fun games and music

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