When I start thinking of party favors, I have 3 goals to meet:
- It should be something useful versus clutter
- It should be as earth friendly as possible
- It should still be fun and not too practical- this is the challenging part
So, today I'm brainstorming pirate party favors for Monkey's upcoming 6th birthday party. We're going to have a treasure hunt as the main entertainment, and each child will have some loot in the chest upon digging it up. I want to have individually labeled favors in the chest, mainly because I'm not a fan of the free for all that occurs when little ones see a pile of goodies. We're going to be pretending to be pirates and all, but I don't want any looting and would prefer that no one lose an eye and actually need those cute eye patches they're getting.
To meet goal one, I try to think of things that all kids use and enjoy- and that doesn't include any tiny little plastic creatures or figures that I can never find a place for in the playroom. (My friend Julie has a box that I'm pretty sure is labeled something like, "Plastic trinkets that don't go anywhere else," which I think is ingenious but I'd still rather not go there). It can get tricky because I still want to follow my theme and not many kids that I know, thank goodness, actually need pirate gear. My sister orchestrated a treasure hunt not long ago with the girls and her loot was fantastic, so I plan to steal a couple of those ideas. She is awesome about respecting our families whole food, non-toxic, very little plastic, very little sugar lifestyle and she clearly put some time into coming up with some great pirate booty that meets all those criteria. Yes, she's amazing.
So first we'll have a captain's log. It will be a small journal the kids can write or draw in. It will have a label inside that will say something to the effect of, "Pirate captains use their log books to record things they observe (like good places to bury their treasures), want to remember (like where they buried their treasure), and people they meet (so they know who knows where the treasure is buried). To make it more whimsical and a reminder of Monkey's birthday party, I will probably have a picture of her dressed as a pirate on the label also. My two girls have been carrying their log books around and recording in them since digging them up, and being a former writing teacher, I love to watch them practice writing! Useful- check! Earth friendly- check! Especially since I plan to find ones made of recycled paper! Fun- check! My girls love having notebooks like Mommy's and these are going to be pirated and whimsical to boot.
Because pirates need certain attire to get into character, there will also be eye patches. I was thinking pink for the girls and red for the boys, Monkey wants white?!? ones, and Sarita (the sister) suggests black for all. Not sure who will win that battle. I want to have one more piece of pirate flair to adorn the kiddos, and I thought about pirate hooks or jewels but decided against both. First, the hooks are sure to reek of plastic fumes and are sure to become clutter and may actually take an eye out. Second, the jewels are likely only to be interesting to the girls and the younger boys (aka siblings) and I don't want to have to come up with a similar but equal counterpart to the jewelry for the boys. I found these really cute pirate bandanas that I thought would serve as a cute photo op when the kiddos have them on with their eye patches, and they will also solve the container issue. I plan to personalize them with the kiddos' names and use them to hold the rest of the loot inside the chest. That way, each kiddo will have their own package and I don't have to use bags that will be tossed in a landfill to contain the goodies. Talk about win/win! Useful- check! They will serve as part of the décor and photo-ops for the party and our friends still love dressing up. Earth friendly- check. I'm sure these will be made of plastic, but at least they will be used more than once. Fun- check! Dressing up is always fun- even for adults. I plan to be decked out in pirate gear for this bash!
Sarita insists that there be gold doubloons, which I am against, mainly because I don't really feel like kids need candy on top of cake. But I am reasonable and plan to put a couple in there also- which will make the burying of the treasure trickier since we live in Texas where things like chocolate doubloons melt rather quickly. No matter, I found a treasure chest cooler that we can bury the treasure in and then use for our Pirates of the Guadalupe trips down the river. Luckily, Whole Foods makes some chocolate coins without all the disgusting hydrogenated oils in them. Useful- eh. You can't win 'em all. Earth friendly- check... At least the coins from Whole Foods will be toxin free. Fun- check! I mean, kids love candy.
My last concern is to keep the price down for the favors, especially because our parties always end up rather large, no matter how small we dream of keeping them. Actually, I am a sucker for a full house and love all the excitement! So, with the loot I have chosen thus far, each favor will cost about six dollars apiece (2 for bandanas, 1.50 for eye patches, 1 for the notebook, and 1 for the candy), but my goal is to get that down to 3 before we're finished. To do that, I will be on the lookout for coupons and free shipping to the party favor sites that have the loot, and I will be on the lookout for cheap notebooks. Since I plan to deconstruct the journals in order to make them captain's logs, I can use any old journal and may even see if I have some floating around the house. I will need about 30 when all is said and done, but they don't have to all be the same, as each will be unique in the end anyway. I also love to send out emails to friends and my mom's club asking for any supplies they might have but not want. I always get great responses! So, I'll be emailing for extra notebooks in the near future. I consider this win/win because it saves me time and money, and it helps my friends de-clutter their spaces. Boy, are they lucky to have me!
Kids also like to walk out the door with something, so I plan to have some individual pirate's booty snacks with some navigational glow in the dark star stickers for the kiddos to grab on the way out. So, those will be another 2 dollars apiece when all is said and done. I do have some leftover glow in the dark stars, so if I can find a few more from friends that have leftovers too, this will be less moola too!
What are some useful and economical favor ideas you've come up with? I'd love to hear your ideas! Happy favoring!