I have already asked my kids what sort of party they are thinking about for their birthdays which both happen to be in December. I feel like the kids enjoy pondering the possibilities and even though it's cray-cray to already anticipate the jam-packed events in December, I really want to know what sort of parties so I can start planning.
I know what you're thinking. First I complain because Michael's & Jo Ann Fabrics make me sweat over the holiday crafts put out too soon and now I'm asking about December birthdays? Don't laugh. I start planning these parties because I LOVE to think about the party favors. You know, the goodie bags. a.k.a. "take home" gifts. Am I a nut or what? I try to be thoughtful in matching the party favors to the theme of the party. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I fail.
One year my son wanted a super hero party. We were having it at an inflatable jumping venue and I thought I would get the kids super hero socks. Well, I couldn't find any that were reasonably priced or offered for both genders. Naturally, I procrastinated a little more. Finally time ran out so I decided to make capes for each of them. Twenty-five capes. I also bought eye masks because both items would be their take home gifts. Of course the kids were still looking for the actual bag of stuff. So even though the take home gift was thoughtful in that they could reuse these capes and masks for many days, the failure was in the absence of a bag that had stuff in it.
The next year I wasn't going to make that mistake. My son still wanted a super hero theme party so we built it around the book The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. I stole a thoughtful goodie bag idea from a classmate's birthday party earlier in the year. Simple, but right up my alley. The goodie bag included a book and cool items that were mentioned in the book. So I went full force. I ordered Awesome Man invites, I had bags that would have some items from the book in it and I just needed the book. Note to self: find out if the book is published in paperback BEFORE there is no turning back. Yup, I was stuck buying hardcover copies of this book at $17.99 before tax but minus the quantity discount. Did I mention 25 kids were coming to the party? That was a mistake that cost me ALOT. However, till this day, I have parents tell me that the book is still a family favorite and is read over and over. Ok, so that makes me feel like it was worth it. Sigh.
My daughter's parties have been more successful in terms of goodie bags. One year was an American Girl Doll party at the store. Easy peasy. They provided the goodie bags and those were pretty awesome. Since that December was the busiest month I had ever had, I was glad that I planned months ahead putting a lot of thoughtfulness into her birthday. Even though the party itself was not cheap - I didn't lift a finger on the day of the party, she loved every minute of it and the goodie bags rocked.
The next year her "tea party" theme was awesome! So much fun preparing the take home gifts for that party. The invites included a tea bag so I thought giving each girl a tea cup and saucer to use at the party and take home would be perfect. We found some tea cups and saucers at Good Will and added homemade "play" tea bags made from cloth and lavender. Thanks to my cousin and her daughter that party was a big success! Oh, I should mention a little movie called Frozen had just come out a few weeks before her birthday so we had the soundtrack playing in the background and every guest was in awe.
This year she wants a Star Wars theme. How appropriate - the 7th Star Wars movie will come out in January 2016, merely days after her birthday. She wants to invite the whole 3rd grade and so the wheels are turning in my head. What will the goodie bag include? The possibilities are endless!!
My daughter came home after a birthday party that was all about making ice cream and brownies with one of my favorite take home gifts. I thought it made absolute sense that she did NOT come home with a bag full of candy but rather a beach towel that had pictures of ice cream cones all over it. The party was in May so we were anticipating warmer weather and let's face it, we can always use beach towels! The pictures of ice cream remind my daughter of the fun party. Bravo, well-done thoughtful hostess!
You may be thinking, "Now hang on sister, budgets for parties are tight enough, I can't afford hardcover books, beach towels, American Doll store etc.!!" I will share with you that most recently even though we had a very large budget, practically every penny went towards the food and drinks because that was the main reason for the event. I squeezed enough money to give little pinches that still fit the theme. The theme was for guests to get away and relax at a beach. When each guest (all adults) walked in, they were invited to kick off their shoes and put on flip flops (which they got to keep and cost $1 at Dollar Tree). Summer beach theme music played in the background while they enjoyed their meal. Each guest took home a cd copy of the playlist. The flip flops and cd were practical pinches that fit the theme, was within budget and memorable (as opposed to a bag of candy or plastic lei). Now that's a two-buck pinch for each guest!
The beauty of Pintrest is that it has answers to many of our creative needs. Many of these same ideas I am sharing with you are all right on one website and easy to find. But I hope the thoughtfulness any one puts into their goodie bags makes sense for both the recipient AND those around them. There is no written rule that by throwing a party you have to give your guests a take home gift. As a matter of fact, if you choose not to - guess what - I feel like you are being thoughtful in not spending time, money and giving something just to give. If you do decide to give pinches to your guests, put a little thought behind it so that it is worth it for you and for them. Try to give your guests items they can either reuse, recycle or repurpose. That takes some thought but well-worth it in the end.