Coming up with birthday goodie bag ideas can be a stressful chore – you have to pack one batch for your child’s school birthday party and another for the party with friends and family. And there are all types of other pressures. You don’t want to be that parent who packs a whole bag of cheap plastic toys and other useless junk; that parent who makes your kid uncool cos his goodie bag is boring; that parent who looks bad next to baller parents who splurge on lavish goodie bags; or worse, that parent who splurges and appears too try-hard …
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t even want to be the parent who cares about these things but we get it, #thestruggleisreal. Well, fret not. We have some guidelines to settling the yearly obligation of birthday party goodie bags in an organised and stress-free (well, less stressful than always, at least) manner.
1. Don’t get anything that will drive parents crazy
Regardless of how well an item fits a theme, the price tag or good intentions, if the parents have to deal with the aftermath of a party favour, they’re not going to appreciate it. In general, anything that makes noise/summons the sugar fiend/takes up a lot of space should be barred from consideration.
2. Win half the battle with great packaging.
The way a gift is presented matters, and we aren’t just saying this. Studies have proven it. According to a series of experiments designed by SMU marketing professor Daniel Howard to gauge if people responded better to gift-wrapped items, he found that people don’t only prefer wrapped presents; they perceive them to be of higher value. He believes it is because gift-wrapping is a visual signal that’s usually associated with happy, joyous events, so just seeing it puts people in a good mood.
So bottom line – make your goodie bag look pretty. Here are some ideas:
Don’t feel the need to use a bag
The problem with bags is that if you get too small a size, it can look meagre; too big a bag and you have the problem of trying to fill it with enough party favours.Consider Chinese takeaway boxes, baskets or pails. The benefit of using these containers is that you can go with a smaller size than you would with a bag, and pack it to the brim so it still looks like a generous gift.
Arrange for celebrity appearances
By that we mean, succumbing to the marketing powers of cartoon characters by using character-themed goodie bags. Cos really, when Mickey, Winnie The Pooh and friends are out to play, nothing can go wrong.
Stick to a theme
It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what party favours to put into a goodie bag. Everything seems to be a good idea and you end up buying more things than you actually need. Having a theme gives you a clear direction, and makes it easier for you to edit your ideas. It also prevents your goodie bag from being random, generic and forgettable.To pick a theme, draw inspiration from your child’s interests (think unicorns, construction vehicles, his favourite book, Wonder Woman …), or general hobby groups that can involve the parents in meaningful ways such as gardening, painting, or DIY kits.
3. Focus on one star product
Here’s the harsh truth: nobody is going to remember every single item in the goodie bag even if they are all awesome. In fact, studies show the average conscious mind can only recall four things at a time. So when it comes to your goodie bag, don’t go with a bag full of stuff.
Focus on one star product that’s going to be remembered, and a maximum of three supporting items that all fit into a coherent theme. With the star product, think about what’s the hook. Why are people going to remember it? You could go with a coveted item but that usually means having to spend more. Instead, go with quirky items that are going to start conversations. Here are some ideas:
You may never understand why kids are obsessed with slime (apparently, it has something to do with it being tactically stimulating). However, judging from the over three million Instagram posts tagged #slime and the number of YouTube videos showing adults how to make their own goo, slime isn’t just for kids.
Five stones from The Old Skool
Go old school with toys from the past like Five Stones, Chapteh or Best Man Balloon Blow from The Old Skool. Include a post-it note that says “Ask your parents” – and spark great nostalgic conversations.
Sticker packs from Troops on Print, $5 a pack of 4 big stickers and 4 small stickers.
Troops on Print is a Singaporean design studio that produces all kinds of adorable things inspired by food, animals and nature.
Pack some seeds and include basic instructions for the kids on how to grow their first plant. They won’t know what it is until it sprouts!