Good to Go: Birthday party goodie bags don’t have to be candy-filled

A goodie bag doesn\'t have to be a literal bag of goodies anymore. Katie Howard offers ideas for alternative party parting gifts. (Thinkstock)

Katie Howard, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A goodie bag doesn’t have to be a literal bag of goodies anymore.

More parents are straying from offering traditional goodie bags at children’s birthday parties, filled with candy and cheap toys. Instead, they are offering craft-focused parting gifts or non-sugary treats.

The idea coincides with the effort by parents to make their child’s birthday healthier in theme. That’s not to say you won’t see the traditional slice of pizza and juice box at parties, both of which kids have come to expect and love.

However, many parents in the D.C. area are making an effort to burn some calories during the party and even keep the healthy energy flowing after the celebration.

My daughters have attended — and have definitely enjoyed — a Chuck E.Cheese party or two. But more often than not, they are invited to parties that involve exercise. Bounce house parties, gymnastics-themed gatherings and even soccer and indoor pool parties are always a hit.

And in lieu of pizza, I have seen fresh fruit and vegetables offered, as well as fun-shaped cookie cutter sandwiches.

A party’s goodie bags often complement the theme. At the gymnastics party my daughter attended, the goodie bag consisted of a water bottle with her name on it, tied with a jump rope.

After a party at the Playseum, my daughter received a book and a kit to decorate your own mug, as well as five dollars of Playseum money to spend at her next visit. Post-pool party, the birthday girl handed out adorable pink and yellow buckets that contained a recipe for making lemonade.

So when my daughter wanted a cupcake-making party, I felt the goodie bag shouldn’t be too sugary, after the party’s frosting overload.

I lucked out around the time of the party when I found some cupcake bowls and plates in the dollar aisle of Target. I tied each together with a bow, and voila! A parting gift. The idea was well-received.

The next time you are organizing a birthday party, check out a few of these stores for some candy-free goodie bag ideas.

  • Five Below. Look for frisbees, jump ropes and other sports equipment for under $5.
  • Oriental Trading. Design your own flower pots, jewelry and novelty crafts.
  • Party City. This store has everything from piggy banks, to theme party favor kits and balloons.
  • Chasing Fireflies. Perfect for pirate, princess, dinosaur and fairy favors.

Editor’s Note: WTOP’s Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she’s always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog “Good to Go.”

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.


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