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20 Party Favors for Kids That Won’t End Up in the Trash

By: Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, CPT

It’s time to plan your child’s special birthday party! This is such a fun part of parenting but it can also feel a little overwhelming. Throwing the “perfect” party can come with a long list of to-do’s that can sadly suck some of the joy out of it. I encourage you, dear parent, to keep things simple and focus on things that really matter to your child.

One aspect of party planning that is not a clear requirement is the birthday party favor. There's a big debate on the internet over whether or not it’s even needed as many parents find them excessive. It’s certainly not a must-have component for a stellar party and is not considered required etiquette anymore.

Still some parents may view it as an expression of thanks for attending the party and celebrating their child. It’s a lovely gesture and certainly puts a smile on your guests’ faces. If you’re going to go through the trouble though, make sure your party favor ideas are something that delight both kids and parents, meaning they don’t just end up in the trash.

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Here are 20 party favor ideas that are not junk, are affordable, and sure to put a smile on kids and parents’ faces alike.

Edible Party Favors

You know what nearly every parent will love - A snack they can put straight into the kid’s lunch box come Monday, like one of these:

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Zbar - This deliciously soft-baked, energy bar will absolutely delight kids and also help fuel them to keep on playing. Made with organic whole grain oats and a good source of fiber, parents will appreciate the thoughtful snack to enjoy on the spot or save for later. Look for tasty flavors like Chocolate Chip, Iced Oatmeal Cookie, Chocolate Brownie and S’mores.

Zbar Protein - Surprise party guests with this gluten free, crispy snack bar that comes in delicious flavors like Cookies ‘n Creme, Chocolate Mint and Cinnamon Crunch. It has no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup but it does have a big flavor and texture! This bar is made with organic oats and provides 5 grams of protein and whole-grain organic oats too to help support kids’ growing bodies.

Novelty Candy - When you do want to include something sweet as a kids party favor, think about what they might not be able to get everywhere or the time of year. Is there a nostalgic candy from your past you’d love to introduce kids to (think candy necklaces or dot candy)? Or maybe there’s a special limited candy out for a nearby holiday. These make a special statement and are more likely to be enjoyed instead of pitched.

Gum - Never underestimate the power of gum, parents. I am still amazed by how excited my children get about gum. This is an affordable and super easy item to include in a goodie bag. Gum is recommended for children 5 and up.


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Socks - Fun socks are a delightful party favor as many children love to wear crazy or colored socks. Tailor the options to your audience or party theme. You might even consider letting kids pick the pair they want on the way out the door to ensure they get ones they will actually wear.

Writing utensils - Pencils, pens, markers, and erasers are practical party favors that will get put to good use. Of course choosing fun colors and options will make them even more exciting, but these are easy to find at discount and dollar stores.

Craft kits - As a parent myself, I love when a party favor gives my kid something to do once we are back home. Mini craft kits are easily found at craft and hobby stores and will provide some fun long after the party is over. Look for ones that have a “longer play shelf life” like bird houses or outdoor games. You can purchase a set of kits, perfect for party favors, online.

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Party Cup - I like to go simple on party decorations, but one purchase I will make is reusable, themed cups that double as the party favor. This has been especially effective as my kids get a little older.

Flashlight - While this might seem too practical, a fun flashlight can actually inspire a lot of creativity from kids. It could turn into a lightsaber, magic wand, or guide for the next adventure. Clip reading lights are another version that can be really nice for kiddos who like to read in bed at night and pair nicely with a bookmark for a well-themed goodie bag.

Water bottle - My son received a sturdy water bottle as a party gift once and absolutely loved it. To make it even more fun, make it a “goodie bag” and fill it with small treats or items mentioned here.

Keychain or lanyard - Older kids may appreciate a cool keychain to put on their backpack or a lanyard to hang their school ID on. We have given these out before at parties and they are always a big hit.


Trading cards - Trading cards are available in all kinds of genres that can appeal to any crowd. For the right age, this favor can immediately spark excitement as they see what everyone got and well, get to trading. Look for low price packs at dollar stores for the best bargain.

Games - Card games or table games are a great idea to extend playtime for party guests. Look for sets that include things like Go Fish, Old Maid, Crazy 8’s and more. Older kids may like a traditional deck of cards in a fund design. In addition, mini checkers or tic-tac-toe boards will spark their brain power too.

Blow Up Ball - A blow up ball (or beach ball) may seem too simple, but I have seen this in live action and kids LOVE them. As soon as we get in the car my son is blowing it up and thinking about all the games he can play when we get home. I love how it can spark imagination. To add a special memento from the party, have guests sign each other’s ball with a permanent marker to remember their special time.

Play Doh or modeling clay - Small packs of playdough or clay will send kids home with an instant activity for the rest of the day. Stick to ones that aren’t super messy and allow kids to get creative with their hands.

Lego Set - Mini brick sets are a surefire way to delight guests of all ages. These kits cost around $5 and provide a little building project for kids when they get home.

Jewelry - Send girls home with a cute pair of earrings or go more universal with old school slap bracelets, silly rings, or necklaces.

Party Activities

Certain party favors can double dip as the party activity too. Here are ideas for things to do at your child’s birthday party that can be taken home as their parting gift too.

Craft - I have a wonderful memory of my grandmother leading all my friends in a craft at one of my elementary school birthday parties. It’s a memory I treasure and a brilliant idea for sending each party guest home with a cute memento. Search for “easy party crafts for kids” to find a whole host of ideas.

Food Creation - One way to entertain party guests and send them home with something delicious is to have them make their own treat. Cookies or cupcake decorating will always work great but think outside the (cake)box with build your own trail mix, dirt pudding, or decorate rice crispy treats, an excellent gluten free option.

Decorate Clothing - Let guests decorate plain white tees or socks as their activity and take home favor. Keep it very neat by using fabric markers or add some fun with puffy paint or tie-dye.

Tips for Success

Remember that party favors are no longer a requirement for a good time. If it’s easier to pass on this extra expense, do so freely. When you do want to add that something special to your party with a goodie bag or favor, consider what parents will actually want to keep and not just throw away.

In the times when you end up with extra goodies you or your kid is not interested at the time, consider setting it aside to use as prizes for good behavior or a fun surprise on a rainy day.

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