Kids love loot bags, you know, those little bags filled with toys and treats that they receive at the end of the party. Only trouble is, many of the keepsakes are dollar store items that just end up in the garbage. Loot bags can also be expensive and stressful for Mom’s and Dad’s when planning a birthday celebration.
Here are some loot bag free party suggestions that will keep costs down but still create a memorable experience for the kids.
- Hire an entertainer like a balloonist, face painter or nail artist. This form of entertainment is fun or kids of all ages. Not only will your guests experience a one-of-a-kind experience, they’ll have a short-term souvenir from the party which can be captured long term in pictures.
- Offer a T-shirt around a theme or colour printed with the birthday child’s name. Not only can they wear the item at the party, but they’ll be able to wear it again and again. Check out these customised T-shirt options here.
- Make a keepsake craft. There are hundreds of affordable ideas available, you just have to use your imagination. Work your craft around a theme, like these adorable popsicle stick Minion or monster crafts, superhero popsicle heroes or these paper bag monsters puppets. In a fun craft for preschoolers, use fruit loop cereal to craft a necklace or rainbow, or create a great eco-craft like these two versions of bird seed ornaments using cookie cutters or oranges. Or get messy with one of these paintable options: woodland birdhouse craft or monogram letter art.
- Rent something cool from a party rental supplier, like a bouncy castle for younger kids, an arcade game or pinball machine or photo booth for older kids, or a popcorn machine or cotton candy maker for an outdoor event or carnival themed party. Local companies offer delivery and set up too!
- Host a treasure or scavenger hunt with an ultimate prize. Not only is searching for the treasure through a series of clues a fun-filled activity, but the prize can include edible items like wrapped candies, chocolate coins (doubloons!) and small packages of chips or cookies. Depending on the age you can also offer keepsake items like colouring books and crayons, Play-doh (for the younger set), baseball, Star Wars or Pokeman cards, dollar store gift certificates, and drugstore products like lip gloss and nail polish (for tweens and teens).
- Donate to a charity at the request of the birthday child and give each guest a thank you note telling them a little about the charity and what difference their donation made. Check this site out for free party invitations and ideas.
Need some help coming up with ideas for your child’s next birthday party? Happy Faces Party has curated our top 20 kids’ birthday party themes to get you started. You don’t have to break the budget; you’ll find many do-it-yourself theme ideas on Pinterest for décor, food, party games and more or check out the party section of your local $ store. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Disney Princesses – Have all of your guests dress as their favourite Disney princess. Offer up tiaras to your little guests (or make it a craft!), play their favourite Disney theme songs (like Frozen or Beauty and the Beast) and have a face painting station complete with glitter and gems or Sparkle tattoos.
- Pirate / Jake the Pirate – Include a treasure hunt into your theme party using a pirate map that includes a “buried” treasure. Keep the them going with loot bags filled with pirate patches and telescope and have a balloon twister on hand to make swords.
- Super Heroes – With Marvel being more popular than ever, Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Captain America are always a hit with the kids. Face painting works in great with this theme.
- Star Wars / space – there’s no shortage of Star Wars party theme ideas. Complement your party with light saber balloons.
- Ninjas / Mutant Ninja Turtles – Decorate with the room with colourful patio lanterns and balloons (or use a red/black Ninja color theme), serve snacks like candy “Sushi” and fortune cookies in Chinese take-out containers with chop-sticks, and offer Ninja bandanas, toy nunchucks and ninja daggers in their loot bags.
- Summer Fun – Why not turn your backyard into an ultimate fun zone. Include an inflatable like a bouncy castle and a water feature like an outdoor sprinkler or slip and slide. Pack loot bags with sidewalk chalk, skipping rope and bubbles for the ultimate in outdoor fun.
- Dora/Diego – As your guests arrive, offer each a backpack full of useful items and a map of a planned adventure. Complete the theme with a volcano birthday cake.
- Disney’s Airplane / Cars – Complete theme with easy to find décor items and loot bags.
- Thomas the Tank Engine / Trains – Calling all engineers. Decorate your little one’s party with easy to find décor: plates and cups, banners and balloons. Offer each child an engineer hat, red bandana and train whistle and have an adult dress up like Mr. Conductor. All aboard!
- Dinosaur / Jurassic Park – Using a sand table (or sandbox if outdoors), have a dinosaur dig with plastic shovels and tools, coloured play sand and assorted plastic dinosaurs and bones.
- Yo Gabba Gabba – Have the kids dress as their favourite character. In the theme, have a dance party with a DJ, play statues and offer up prizes.
- Spongebob Squarepants – Decorate the party like Bikini Bottom with a Tiki theme decor. Serve crabby patties and drinks in plastic coconut glasses with paper umbrellas along wit Patrick and Spongebob cupcakes.
- Video game theme (Super Mario Bros/Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong) – Rent and arcade game or host your party at a kid friendly arcade. Create food and décor around the theme: Pac Man Birthday cake, game console ice cream sandwiches or cookies and Creeper fruit punch.
- Scavenger Hunt / Easter egg hunt – All kids love a hunt inside or out! Make clues to keep the game challenging and offer up an ultimate “prize” that everyone can share.
- Jungle/Zoo/Madagascar – There are so many options for décor including party hats, banners, plates and cups and table cloths (or create your own!). Offer a balloon twister to create fun, keepsake animals or hire a professional face painter to paint lively monkeys, tigers or giraffes.
- Spa/glam – Offer your junior guests a spa feel by including sparkle tattoos and a “mani/pedi” nail painting station.
- Hockey/sports – there are tonnes of NHL ideas (or other sport leagues for that matter) that can inspire your theme party: from hockey pennants and Stanley Cup centre-piece decor, to hockey puck cup cakes or hockey jersey cookies or an ice rink theme cake, you’re sure to create a memorable party for your little league player.
- Carnival/Circus – For the biggest impact and for a memorable party for kids and adults alike, set up a “big top” tent, rent a real popcorn or cotton candy machine, and serve hotdog or corn dogs and corn on the cob. Have a balloon twister on hand for added entertainment.
- Spy/Detective – Create a detective mystery and have all of the kids involved in solving the clues. Offer the kids walkie-talkies and other toy spy gadgets.
- Fairy – Have your little guests come dressed as fairies or have on hand fairy wings, tutus and sparkly wands for quick dress-up. Set a delightful table for a fairy tea party with little sandwiches, cupcakes and pink punch. Decorate the table with flowers, butterflies and fairy dust.