The party season never goes away, fun times. As a parent I had no idea about party bags when we did H’s 1st birthday party – everyone got a piece of cake (I think – I hope!) and a balloon (ditto) and that was it – luckily it was her first so it wasn’t like they’d expect much anyway, but as other first birthday party invites came we entered the murky world of party bags.
I’m no expert, so thought I’d add my top tips that I’ve picked up so far. I managed to get H’s party bag contents from ebay this year and I think I did pretty well – though could do better.
• Crayons. Everyone gives crayons, and you may find you end up with a tub full of the things. Never fear, as you can always melt them down and make jumbo crayons. See also : pencils. I try to avoid both as I know lots of people do them.
• Bubbles. You can’t go wrong with bubbles, although if you get a lot of parties that can also be a lot of bubbles – we currently have ten tubs in the cupboard from various bags. Keep to smaller tubs and they’ll run out faster! We need some activities for old bubble tubs… We got Magic Bubbles once – they never pop (or are difficult to, anyway) – one bubble lived for over three months in a cobweb in our house (oh the shame)
• Jigsaw puzzles. Almost every one we’ve had has been flimsy and difficult to put together and has been thrown away. If possible try to see the quality of them before you buy. There’s a reason they’re cheap…
• Noisy things. A winner! There’s a lot of choice and we found getting H to practice blowing into a party streamer or duck quacker helped her learn to whistle quicker. We’re still working on the whistling, but it’s definitely a skill they’ll pick up.
• Bouncy balls. You can never have too many of these, mainly as they’ll bounce over the fence so there’s a good losing potential here. This is an added bonus for parents who would like some of the party toys to ‘disappear’…
• Balloons. We had four balloons from parties in our front room. Sadly they met their end (two possibly via a pair of scissors, me bad), which were replaced by more balloons. They grow like weeds, and we’ve had some interesting party bag ones – the rocket balloon is currently a favourite and lasts for ages too. The rocket balloons are at the pricier end for party bags, but do seem popular – with the parents AND kids!
• Mini games. We love mini games! H got a mini connect 4 which she’s had a good play with, and one of those puzzles where you move the tiles around to make a picture which she’s had a lot of enjoyment from.
• PlayDough. Home made is good, as is shop bought. Home made is easier but shop bought takes less time. There are loads of deals for the stuff out there – I saw a buy one get one free for three tubs locally (but if you’ve got 24 kids at the party then it could work out pricey).
• Puzzle/colouring in books. These are always a winner, and I also found some magic paint ones (where you use a brush and water and the colours appear) – they usually work out about 25p each too.
• Random things. Olympics fever last year meant H had several medals in her party bags which are still played with. If the party is near a big event, why not think of something that links in with that?
Ultimately, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. This year with H’s monster theme I’ve managed to spend well under a pound per bag and still put around six things in there – I’m quite pleased with myself, and only one of them is of an unpredictable quality…