Come on….Are Goodie Bags Really Necessary for Kids’ Parties?

Kids parties have become major events. What used to be a pizza and pinata in the park now is now a huge affair with a theme, full decor, activities and goodie bags. Pulling inspiration from Pinterest, Moms have thrown some amazing parties. Which honestly, leaves me wondering, “is all this necessary?” And more specificially, “Are Goodie Bags really Necessary for Kids’ Parties?”

After much consideration, here’s where we land on the hot topic of Goodie Bags for kids parties.

I.Hate. Goodie Bags.

There I said it.

Controversial? Sure. But true. SO FREAKING TRUE. I just want them gone. But as I stare at an ominous October calendar that has a giant star on October 8, my youngest daughter’s first birthday party, I start to waver in my conviction. Because as much as I don’t want to make them, I know there will be kids that expect them. Hell, there will be parents that expect them.

I’ve given into the Goodie Bag monster before. At my sons second birthday I made little canvas bags, complete with each child’s name on them. A dinosaur themed event, each kid got “fossil dig” brushes – each with painstakingly Cricut-ed labels – and of course, the homemade salt dough fossils to go with them. There were bubble wants and homemade crayons in the shape of dinosaurs. And I’m not gonna lie, it was ADORABLE. But looking back, Good God was it a lot of work!


By the time I got to my second child’s first birthday party at the end of December, each kid got one coloring calendar. Because easy.

Three days away from the seventh birthday party in my resume, and I’m ready to throw in the towel and say eff it. I’m afraid I’m not going to get my dream of saying goodbye to the goodie bags, so here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for putting the GOOD back in Goodie Bag!

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DON’T get stuff just to have stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge part of me that knows I could drive to the nearest party store, buy every piece of plastic in the place, fill cheap plastic bags with it, and look like we have a beautiful bulging goodie bag.

I also know it’s a bag of stuff I’d want to steal from my kids and hide forever before I spend the next 9 years trying to sneak throw it away. Everything either makes noise or breaks in days. God forbid there’s a little plastic egg with cheap mystery goop inside. Nothing in that goodie bag aisle is anything my kids actually NEED.

And, I hate to get all environmental killjoy, but it’s such an awful waste of cheap plastic. So whatever you do, don’t fill goodie bags with useless plastic toys.

DO Give consumables.

This is a great route to take if you feel like a goodie bag is a “must-have.” I get it. In the formula for “how to have a birthday party” (especially in the 2020’s) gift bags are going to be a part of that equation. You’ve decided against cheap plastic (good for you!) but want to give SOMETHING.

Consider giving something that kids can either use once – or eat – and be done with it! I love getting something that’s a one and done. An activity kit I can take to a restaurant. A homemade treat my kids will eat and I won’t have to store anywhere. Basically anything that will take up very little space in my house for a very short period of time and that I can throw away is A-okay with me.

DON’T kill yourself crafting.

We get it, it’s easy to fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole of all the things you CAN do to make your kids’ party amazing. We have a never-ending supply of adorable ideas at our fingertips. And everything you need to make them is just a click on Amazon away. And then you can share your perfect creations to your Instagram account! It all makes sense!

Except you really, really, don’t have to. There is zero shame in saying no to a Pinterest Perfect Party.

Unless you’re into that sort of thing – and then you do you. But if it helps – my kids have never once, not ever said, “Mama, look at the craftsmanship my friend’s Mommy put into this homemade item I’m going to play with in the dirt later!”

Like these tags I put on all these fossil brushes? WHAT was I thinking??? There was zero need for me to stay up all night gluing tiny little shovels together. ZERO. So if you go this route, I will applaud you, but I will NEVER fault you for not crafting either.

DO give one item.

Sometimes I add up how much all the tchotchkes would cost and see if I can do ONE item for each kid at the same price.

One of our favorite single items to give is a cute tumbler with each kids’ name on it. They can take it home, have a water bottle around, it’s actually useful – win, win, win!


For a full tutorial on how to make these DIY tumblers, find instructions here!

DON’T feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses.

My son’s birthday is in June, and in our friend group, he’s sort of at the end of what we affectionately call “Birthday Season.” You know, the time of year where you’re at a birthday party every weekend – sometimes two.

So I see all the goodie bags before I’ve finalized my plan. Some are super cute. Some are super creative. And, frankly, some are just more expensive than what I can in good conscious spend on a goodie bag. It can be overwhelming to want to keep up. DON’T. It’s a kids birthday party. It just. Doesn’t. matter. Let go of the pressure and have fun.

And if you think some of the Moms of kids that are coming are going to judge you for not going all out on goodie bags? Those probably aren’t the kind of Mom friends you need anyway (she said after learning the hard way!)

DO give to others.

Because I REALLY don’t want to do Goodie Bags at all, and also don’t want to look like a cheapskate, we’ve talked about banning the bags at my son’s next birthday party, and instead making a donation to a charity of his choice. He loves animals, so maybe to our local no-kill shelter. We love the YMCA and would love to help provide subsidies to other families, so perhaps we’ll donate there. Whatever is chosen, he’ll be in on making that decision. It’s a great chance for him to pick something that is valuable to him, and learn that birthday’s are about more than getting “stuff.”

Might kids be disappointed they’re walking away with nothing? (I mean, except for an afternoon of fun, maybe some crafts, pizza, cake – you know a full party experience). Sure, they might be. But it’s also a good opportunity to teach the value of enjoying the little things and giving to others. We’ll let folks know that instead of giving them more stuff, we’re giving to someone else instead.

In the end, do what makes YOU happy! Because years from now, our kids won’t remember the goodie bags, they’ll just remember that you worked hard to make their birthday good.

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10 thoughts on “Come on….Are Goodie Bags Really Necessary for Kids’ Parties?”

  1. I don’t have kids but my little brother is getting to this age and this is super helpful… when they’re so little do they even remember or care what they get? lol

  2. I have had the same thoughts about goodie bags myself. I have started doing the one-object in the place of a goody bag, because it keeps life simple and I’d rather give out something useful than a bunch of junk. I can’t bring myself to get rid of them altogether because handing the kid a goody back is the easiest way to let people know “the party is over now LEAVE MY HOUSE!”

  3. Great idea! Don’t feel like you have to keep up with The Joneses – yesssss, great advice

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