I still remember as a kid, going home from parties with a bag full of candy. I also remember my mom not being too happy about it! I always tried to be conscious about this when our kids had birthday parties, finding some alternatives to candy. Also consider that most kids eat junk food and get sugared up at parties, and are usually overtired and over-sugared when it comes time to leave, so having to deny candy from a goody bag can be recipe for a complete meltdown.
While a few treats are fine, I like to have a balance of treats and other favors. In a day and age of food allergies and other issues, candy can be a sensitive topic. As a parent of a child with a nut allergy, we are far too familiar with party foods and party favors that were not allergy-friendly, or did not have packaging with allergy information on it. (That also goes for Halloween and other events). We have had many occasions shrouded with disappointment, so here are some ideas that do not involve candy.
- Arts & crafts items – crayons, markers, pencils, pens, stickers, mini notepads. You can often find school supplies on deep discount after school starts, or buy in bulk on Amazon or stores like Oriental Trading Company.
- Mini bubbles
- Mini Play-doh containers
- Stickers – cut or tear apart sheets of stickers if needed
- Erasers (you can usually find packages of different theme erasers)
- Gel pens
- Hair ties, barrettes
- Stamps – small, self-inking rubber stamps. You can often find these for very cheap at a craft store, or buy in bulk and save extras for future parties.
- Mini figures (such as small plastic animals)
- Mini nail polishes
- Silly putty
- Socks (e.g. cute seasonal socks from the $1 bin at Target)
- Grow caps – the little capsules that you put in water and watch grow
- Coupons (e.g. free slice of pizza, free ice cream cone)
- Mini games
- Mini bags of popcorn, pretzels, Pirate’s Booty, goldfish, etc.
- Snacks (we like Annie’s Homegrown, Clif Kids, etc.)