I hate party favors. There, I said it.
It's a lovely idea, giving each child guest a small gift to say, 'Thank you for coming to my party.' It even serves the lovely function of making it easier for overstimulated sugared-up kids to leave your home or party venue. As a mom often trying to get reluctant kids to part company, it's a lovely incentive to dangle in front of their faces--an enticing little bag full of surprises that cannot even be peered into until the last car seat buckle is clicked.
The problem is that they're generally full of junk to eat, break or fight over. Oh, and lose. Can't forget lose.
The reason this comes up has little to do with any parties recently attended, but more because we are getting ready to run the birthday gauntlet that is early August, when we have three birthdays in ten days in this house. Between cleaning, baking, icing, shopping, wrapping and inviting, it is hard enough to get ready for one party in a weekend, let alone two, and, frankly, it's expensive.
With the possible exception of my mother, I am the cheapest person you will ever meet. I don't even go down the regular aisles in Target--I know where all the clearance endcaps and racks are and never stray from them. (Today I spent $31 for what was originally $185 worth of stuff!) At the grocery store, I will often save more than 50% of my original bill thanks to combining sales and coupon magic. Papergoods are always bought well in advance and for at least 75% off.
Same with gifts. I have a closet full of toys bought on after-Christmas clearance. Yesterday, my girls each took a really nice gift to the honoree at a birthday party for a combined total expense of 4.98. I bought a toaster oven on 90% off clearance and gave it as a wedding gift. I spent $2.50 on it. If that isn't love and generosity, what is?
But it is hard to cheap out on party favors. When you need twenty of something, with attention to gender and age appropriateness, it is hard to manage. Especially when you're trying to not fill the obligatory cellophane bag with plastic rings and jawbreakers at a cost of $3-4 per guest.
For Melody's birthday, I totally lucked out. Disney Princess sets of 7 Barbie-sized dolls were down from $60 to $15. I bought two sets, arranged them in a basket, threw in some clearance match box car sets and spent just over $2 per guest for something really cool that isn't going to break before you get home.
While in Target today, I found reusable vinyl lunch bags in cute patterns for 25 cents each. I bought a thick stack of them and plan to fill them with the 20 cent crayons and colored pencils that they have for back-to-school at Wal-Mart. I may come in at under $1 a guest for Dixie's party.
For Charlie's party, I found Black & Decker tool sets on clearance for 50 cents each. They're adorable. They're cheap. They're hiding in my closet.
So for all my real-life friends, you now know my dirty secret. And remember this: don't ever try to return anything I give you. It was likely bought more than six months ago and I paid almost nothing for it.