My older son will have a birthday next month, and already the party preparations have begun.  We’ve done the “home party” with games in the backyard, lemonade and cupcakes, and a pinata to boot.  We’ve had the bowling party, all the friends at the lanes, lots of noise and fun.  And, we’ve had the “progressive party”, moving a small group of friends from activity to activity, ending up at the house for cake and ice cream before sending everyone home.

My least favorite part of birthday parties are the party favors, mainly because I cringe almost every time my son brings one home from someone else’s party.  Party favors typically comprise of a plastic bag filled with candy my kids don’t need and toys my kids lose/don’t play with/forget about after an hour.  I certainly want to make sure that the favors we send home end up in a better spot than the floorboard of a car or the trash can in the driveway.

So, in my aging wisdom, I’ve come up with a small list of ideas, and perhaps some of these will spark an idea or two that you’d like to share as well:

1.  Beach towels.  You can usually find good deals on beach towels in late summer – Target sometimes runs their striped towels for $5, and I have seen Disney-themed towels for the same price at other stores from time to time.  Who can’t use a towel?

2.  T-shirts.  This can be as simple as a white undershirt and let the guests decorate and sign them, or you can go all out and have them silkscreened.  You can typically order shirts with a design for under $10 (I actually have a gal who can do them for $6!  You just have to look around).

3.  Kites.  This is great for those outdoor Springtime parties.  We gave styrofoam gliders one year at a transportation themed party my son had – they cost me all of $2 a piece and the kids LOVED them.

4.  Having a camp-themed party?  How about some cool flashlights, a canteen or a backpack?  A compass?

5.  PuzzlesPuzzles are always a hit, and you can find them in any size, from wooden peg puzzles, to 1000 piece wing-dingers and giant floor puzzles.  And, puzzles can be found for just about every theme!

6.  Beach balls.  Really, any kind of swim gear would be great for a summer party – noodles, inflatables, water guns…there are endless possibilities!

7.  Fish.  I know, sounds weird, but for my son’s ocean-themed party, we gave each guest a goldfish in a bowl with a small container of food.  Several years later, we still heard about the goldfish as being the best favor by far!  And talk about inexpensive.  I picked up ivy bowls at my local Garden Ridge store for under $.50 each, the fish were 4 for $1.00, and the food was purchased at the dollar store!

8.  Nail polish.  What girl doesn’t want to have a pamper-me birthday party, and a great party favor would be to send the guests home with a great nail color and a few accessories!  Check out your dollar store for great deals there.

9.  Personalized gifts.  This year, my son’s theme is a movie party.  I found clapboard photo keychains at a discount party supply store for about $.50 each.  We will take their photos as the party begins, send them out for one hour developing and put the keychains together before they go home.  Instant souvenir of the Red Carpet event!

10.  It’s your turn!  What are some great party favors you can think of? Email them in!