Alternatives to Children’s Party BagsPaul Rogers
Alternatives to Children’s Party Bags.
Alternatives to Children’s Party Bags are an interesting consideration when organising your parties. Children may love and look forward to a party bag, parents may not share this enthusiasm. A party bag is now considered an integral part of most parties. No matter how many toys and luxuries children have at home the arrival of a bag containing small unknown goodies still grabs attention.
The decision to have party bag is entirely yours. It does seem a little funny that you buy your child a birthday present, pay for a party and then thank your guest for their present and attending the party with a small gift. A man in a red suit with a white beard flying all over the world and sliding down chimneys is a little strange too.
Why do we need alternatives to Children’s Party Bags?
Apart from the additional cost to the party, a dislike for party bags, or the want to do something different. A major problem seems to be getting replies from guests. Small parties are easier to manage. Once you have 10 or more guests getting a response to the party from a hard-core group of people can be a frustrating task. Despite all of the communication methods at our disposal we receive regular last minute phone calls from parents who are trying to guess how many children will attend a party in a few days’ time
I always put an RSVP date well in advance of the party date onto the party invitations but it has no effect. I now keep all parents phone numbers from party invitations just so I have another means of chasing up responses to party invites.
In the last three years I have had a party where 7 additional children turned up unexpectedly. A few had earlier declined due to other commitments, some had just ignored the invitations and text messages. This is not too bad if food is a general buffet but if you are having a party at a venue I am not sure why the parents think you want to spend the party trying to sort out last minute additional meals and gifts. I am also mystified as to why the really late responding parents think it is okay on the evening before or the morning of a party think you have the time to spend on the phone listening to how busy they are, how they would love their child to now attend the party, how excited their child is to be coming to the party, oh and by the way they have special dietary requirements!
So, if any of these factors are affecting you what are the alternatives?
Food & Party Boxes
If you are catering for a party on your own using a party box for the food, naming it and including a gift with the food can avoid the last minute scramble with party bags. You can add a piece of cake to the box, children take their party box, gift and cake as they leave. The party boxes still meeting the expectation of a gift at the end of a party. If you have children like mine who like to hoard everything, the party box will be used to store all sorts of things, until you can sneak it away.
Just as party bags still bring an air of anticipation to a child so does a lucky dip. Pre-wrapped presents sitting in a box, bin, bowl, basket, anything you can find, match the expectation of a party bag. Wrap your gifts in colour coded paper or buy generic gifts. Unwrapping a gift is always a treat and the contents do not all have to be the same. If you are sharing the birthday cake with your guests you will still need something to safely transport the cake home.
Pick your own gifts.
On the hottest Saturday in September I can ever remember, a friend and I sat in a garden soaking up the sun and drinking tea (drivers!). The children were playing organised games at a party. Points were awarded for each game. At the end of the party instead of the usual party bag the children were given an empty party bag and then chose their own gifts according to the number of points they had earned. The gifts were arranged onto plates on a table with a point score on each plate. The children then picked their own gifts according to the points they had earned. A few parents hovered and checked the additions. Sweets were not included with the gifts.
This worked well for older children but could work just as well for younger children. The points were not really that important, the children chose pretty much what they wanted. I did think the children would all want the same things. The reverse actually happened as the children all chose different combinations and seemed to enjoy having different gifts. I think to simplify things I would skip the points and just let the children choose four or five items.
Win your gifts.
In a similar style, we had an Olympic themed party last year. The children were put into teams of mixed ages and capabilities, they were then “awarded” gifts for coming first, best trip, any excuse to ensure everyone won. The children put the gifts into their own labelled party bag. The older children ensured the younger ones put their “winnings” into the correct party bag. The children were not bothered that the first prize box became the second or third prize in another race. At the end of the party I dropped a few extra leftover items into the party bags.
The party came at the end of a busy fortnight. The party was in the summer holidays, there were lots of yes..but as people were coming back from holiday, seeing friends etc. As time was tricky I knew the majority of the party organising would be last minute. It was easier to put a name on the party bags and then put a few gifts into a box, rather than trying to deal with a mixed age group, siblings. I also avoided organising party bags in the early hours before the party.
The rain just about stayed away. All food disappeared and the children all ensured they had their party bag to take home. Job done! I am not sure whether the party was more or less of a success than normal. The party happened in the school holidays, not two weeks before or 4 weeks late but on the actual birthday so a prize to me. The only problem is what do I do this year?