Filling Birthday Party Goody Bags on a Budget

Posted on Nov 8, 2012 by 1 Comment
Filling Birthday Party Goody Bags on a Budget

Every parent I know has a love/hate relationship with goody bags. They can be expensive to fill and kids are likely to throw away most of the contents after a few days anyway, but you look like a party pooper if you refuse to participate in this tradition.

My son’s birthday is coming up, so I thought I’d share some of the frugal goody bag ideas we’ve used in the past:

  • Fruit snacks – I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love fruit snacks and these come in pretty much any theme imaginable.
  • Coloring pages – There are tons of websites offering free coloring pages, so printing a few designs that match the theme of your party is a low cost way to stuff your goody bag.
  • Crayons – Either stock up on crayons during back to school sales or have your kids melt down broken crayons in silicone ice cube molds to make cute shape crayons for their friends. My son made skull “rainbow” crayons for his pirate themed party last year and they were a hit.
  • Homemade play dough – Homemade play dough is easy to make and very popular with younger kids. Package it inside large plastic Easter eggs.
  • Origami toys – If you are crafty, there are lots of cute origami toys that you can fold for a goody bag. Check out my tutorials on About Origami to learn how to make an origami jumping frog and an origami ninja star.
  • Dollar store toys – Yes, a lot of the toys at your local dollar store are crap. But, there are some gems to be found, too. I’ve snagged puppets, board books, jump ropes, bouncy balls, and bubbles for party goody bags at unbelievable prices.

As for packaging, I buy plain brown paper lunch bags in bulk. You can either decorate them with rubber stamps or run them through your inkjet printer for a more polished look. (If you run them through the printer though, I’d suggest taping the bottom closed and printing them one at a time. My printer does a great job on individual bags, but will jam if I try to print several at once.)

What are your favorite cheap ideas for filling birthday party goody bags?

Photo credit: About Origami

Posted in: Parenting
Dana Hinders

Dana Hinders lives in Iowa with her husband and son. She has been a freelance writer since shortly after earning her degree in journalism from The University of Iowa in 2003. She writes extensively about parenting, crafts, and creative ways to save money. Visit her at

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  • Emily (CityBaby Living)

    For my daughters last (5th) bday, I just didn’t do them. Instead, we made crowns for the kids that my daughter decorated for each of her friends. They got to wear them while we had cake, and then take them home. We had a great time making them (foam cut outs was our material of choice, but they could also be made out of paper) and then each kid got something special from my daughter as a thank- you for coming. They also made a great photo op!

    I’ve noticed that in our area, people are backing off a bit from the goody bags which I’m not sad to see. Thanks for some of the suggestions above – I esp like the homemade playdoh idea.