Let’s End The Party Favor Tradition

party-favors Party image via Shutterstock


Enough with stale Tootsie Rolls and broken bird whistles.

Enough with half-opened Hershey’s Kisses and misshapen Slinkys.

Enough with erasers that crumble and rubber ducks that emit fumes.

Enough with the plastic.

Enough with the small.

Enough with the cheap.

Enough with the crap.

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Sometimes nothing is better than something.

So goodbye, party favors. I’m over you.

And I want to know: who’s with me?

I know my friend, writer Nina Badzin, is with me. Or I’m with her. She wrote about favors last year in Brain, Child Magazine: “Why in the name of all that’s sensible are we parents perpetuating this worthless tradition of handing out junk at the end of a party?”

Why indeed?

We no longer smoke on airplanes or perm our hair or let people drive with open Budweisers. So why in the world are we still giving out bags filled with shit to thank kids for coming to our children’s birthday parties?

Thank them for coming? Because why?

Because decades ago some overachiever decided that throwing a party, serving cake, and entertaining a horde of loud, sticky children wasn’t enough?

No! The party is more than enough! I’m putting my foot down. (And then I’m picking my foot back up. And then I’m putting it back down again. I’m actually stomping my foot because I feel really strongly about this.)

Unless there’s a need to rid the world of all its old Jolly Ranchers, there is no possible explanation for why we’re still giving out goodie bags.

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Enough with the stuff.

Let’s cut the crap.

So goodbye goodie bags. Goodbye, party favors. Goodbye, crap.

I don’t want to get them.

And I don’t want to give them.

A few years ago, at the end of a birthday party that I had thrown for my son, a little boy came to find me. His mom watched.

I thought he was going to thank me.

Silly me.

He wasn’t.

He was asking for his party favor.

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He was demanding it, actually.

He held out his hand.

Part of me wanted to reprimand him. Part of me wanted to high-five his outstretched hand. I did neither.

But looking back on it, since I hate party favors so incredibly much, I know exactly what I should have done.

I should have given him two.

Related post: 10 Ways Birthday Parties Suck 


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    • 5


      Here’s my thing about favors. My oldest has a hard time understanding things sometimes, one of them is why he doesn’t get to play with the presents at bday parties. He’s been known to throw a fit a time or two when I tell him it’s time to go after opening the presents. The favors always calm him. They are ridiculous no doubt. I throw that crap out usually the next day but for social sanity, they save me every time.

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    • 6

      ducks says

      er hang on it’s about the kids not the moaning mothers , forget the me ,me ,me of the grown ups, half the time they only have the parties to either compete or show off or turn it into an adult thing .

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      • 7

        Alison says

        My 5 year old loves receiving them. It’s usually complete crap, but when you have 10-15 kids you do treat bags for (and you have to invite the whole class to be fair) it would cost too much other wise. My son does not expect them, but says ” wow that’s a nice treat mom”. Children new to learn it’s ok to share the spotlight. It’s fun to help celebrate your friends birthday as they will with you. Am thank you cards? I wasn’t aware people still did that. That’s great, for those who have the time. I think a ” thank you for coming to my party” will survice. It’s getting harder as parents are not allowing “junk food” like they use too. I limit what my kid gets, so when we do treat bags we try and do somthing they can play with. Like a previous poster said, go to the dollar store and get a kite. What kid wouldn’t want a kite?

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    • 11

      geezer67 says

      There’s no possible reason why thank you cards should be sent after a kid’s party. This isn’t the 1950s and not even Catholics were white gloves to church any more. Thank you, but NO thank you cards! Or junk food favors.

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        • 13

          Kayla says

          Because my 2 year old can totally comprehend the idea of writing a thank you note for his birthday gift. My bad, I thought he wasn’t able to even grasp the idea of gratitude yet, or compose a thoughtful thank you. He must be smarter than I thought!

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          • 14

            eli says

            and he can understand a party ? please. the party’s for you, and the thank-you notes are for your friends, who gave up an afternoon to hang out with a bunch of strung-out-on-sugar toddlers. and they brought a gift! so, yeah, a thank-you note is in order.

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          • 15

            LuAnn says

            I would also love to give up favors, thankfulky I only have one child so it isn’t that big of a deal and i do try to give something that might be worn,played with or eaten. One MAJOR peeve I have are the parties where the gifts are not opened. Those poor kids are not be taught to be gracious, what to say if they get something they already have, dont like, etc. People take time to shop and wrap a gift, if you arent going to open it in front of the person then a thank you should be sent and it should reference what was given. My daughter is at the age where she wants the GOH to open her gift. She also enjoys getting mail and receiving a thank you brings the whole gift giving process full circle.

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        • 16

          vic says

          I totally agree with you Michelle! It is proper etiquette. If your child is too young to understand or write one, then it is Parents duty to do so..um, I am Catholic and go to Mass.. There actually are still some people that wear gloves and hats.

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          • 17

            JK says

            Ok, I was not a mom who threw big birthday parties. My son was in kindergarten when we threw the first big one. All his classmates were invited. The Thank-you cards were almost as fun as the party! Helping him write them with all the misspelled words! These are memories that will remain with me forever, and it taught him that a special thank-you makes people happy! ( and the Scooby Doo thank-you cards were cute!)

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      • 18

        Beth says

        People say that kids are ungrateful and entitled these days. It’s because they aren’t being taught gratitude at home. Thanking people for coming to your party and for taking the time to purchase and wrap your gift is just one small way to teach gratitude. Thank you notes are essential.

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  1. 22


    i like doing favors. i always handmake them, and since we always have pinatas the bags give the kids something to bring the stuff home.
    so, do away with the cheap generic favors. and thank you cards because i suuuuuuck at those.

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    • 24


      I agree! I don’t recall getting a big birthday party every year. I got a party for “big” milestones: 10, 13, 16. When did the tradition start to have a huge expensive party every freakin’ year?

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      • 25

        Krys says

        Yes! We take family trips ( zoo, resteraunt they chose, etc) and/or have cake and ice cream with close family instead. :) family bonding presents and cake = perfect fun and easy!

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