It’s Time To Stop the Birthday Party Favors

Planning a child’s birthday party can be a joyful experience. Especially the milestone birthdays such as the first birthday, hitting double digits, first official teenage party, and the  much anticipated sweet sixteen. Birthdays are a time to remember the life of the little, or not-so-little one, that you love. It’s a time to celebrate them and to let friends and family celebrate with them as well. However, one part of the celebration that needs to be put to rest is, birthday party favors.

The List Goes On and On

Planning a birthday party comes with a lot of things on the to-do list:
– Date and time
– Location
– Theme
– Cake
– Activities
– Decorations
– Guest list
– Cute birthday shirts
Gifts or no gifts

These lists can go on and on in a seemingly unending minutia of details. Sometimes the details involve trying to find someone to bring snakes to your house to go along with the theme of the party {Me. I did that}. So why do we feel this social obligation add another thing to this list?

parents and son pose with giant snake

As moms, the brunt of this planning and work falls on us. We plan every detail of our child’s parties, so why on earth are we putting more pressure on ourselves to put together cute, theme-matching birthday party favors that will either get thrown away or forgotten in the other child’s playroom? Not to mention the never-ending fear that maybe you miscalculated on the number of people coming and a child might not get one, dissolves into tears, and you become “that” mother.

bags of party favors

Favors Teach A Bad Lesson

I’ll confess that I have done these birthday party favors in the past. I used to get on Pinterest and look for cute favors that kids really want and would spend hours and a ridiculous amount of money on them. But over the years I have realized that since I am already paying for the entertainment, food, sugary treats, and a myriad of other things for a bunch of kids to do while running wild in my house, I do not need to pay for them to have a bags of random things when they leave. More importantly, I have realized that by providing party favors we are taking away a valuable lesson from our kids, helping them remember they are not the center of everything.

Now I know this can sound harsh, but when did it become socially acceptable for our children to assume they are going to get a bag of gifts at another child’s birthday party? Parties, while fun for all children involved, are about celebrating the life of one child. The goal of gift-giving at birthday parties is for children to take the time to buy a present they know their friend will like and enjoy. It is not about every child receiving something to take home. This is not a time where everyone gets a participation gift or needs to feel the attention is equal, because it is not. The birthday boy or girl should be the only one getting gifts and they and they alone are the center of that attention. And that is ok, they should be, that is what birthday parties are about. So let it be about them and let us all take a stand and say no more birthday party favors!!
[Related Post: Houston Birthday Party Ideas]

Alternatives to Giving Party Favors

If you feel you MUST give your guests something, there are options that do not involve cheap plastic toys or candy. You can consider including something interactive in the party entertainment. Maybe have an art party and let the kids all paint something on a canvas or go to a paint-your-own-pottery place. If your kids are sports fans take your child and some of their friends to a semi-professional sports game and let them enjoy the atmosphere. There are so many ways to incorporate entertainment in such a way the children feel completely involved and allow them to enjoy the party fully.

boy holds up artwork

Planning parties can be stressful, so do yourself a favor and avoid the party favor stress and cost and focus on the party. My son had his ninth birthday this year and instead of favors the kids got to race around in inflatable dinosaur costumes, eat pudding cake cups, break dinosaur ice eggs, and run amuck together for almost 2 hours. And when everyone was walking out the door and my son thanked everyone for coming, he gave them nothing except a big smile and everyone left happy and favorless.


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Whitney Peper
Whitney P. was raised in the Houston area, the third oldest of six children. After high school she attended and graduated from Texas A&M earning a degree in Communications and Political Science where she met her husband Tim. After college, Whitney worked as the Communications Director for a private school in Austin before returning to Houston in 2008 to work as a corporate fundraiser for non-profits before her the call into ordained ministry. Whitney resides in Katy and is an Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s UMC overseeing Care and Special Needs ministries. Whitney and Tim adopted their first child Jase {March 2013} in 2013, and he is living his best dinosaur loving life. Besides her work and family, Whitney’s greatest passions are reading, discussing and celebrating anything related to Harry Potter, traveling near and far, and training for half-marathons. Whitney has a personal blogOur Color Filled Life.


  1. Whatever happened to crummy pizza served by a depressed teenager while a mechanical rat played copyright safe songs with his friends, if they worked at all.

  2. The premise of this opinion is ridiculous to me. It is NOT socially acceptable – acceptable at all – for a child to assume they are going to get something at a party. However, the presence of party favors or gift bags is not what breeds that sort of entitlement in kids. While I’m sure they exist, I’ve never met or observed such a child. Growing up, we understood these were a special way of expressing “thank you” to our guests, and when on the receiving end, appreciating that “thanks” as well. It is not a participation trophy. Culturally speaking, for some of us (I’m half Filipino- this applies) it is customary to present small gifts to our friends and family on our own birthdays, (or as an adult, buy the dinner or get a round of drinks), as a way to say “thank you for not only being here to celebrate, but for your presence in my life this/these past year(s).” Do not put the burden of a poorly raised child on others when they choose to do so. That type of entitlement begins at home, not because some people like to give their guests favors. The ideas toward the end as an alternative are great though, and could be incorporated either way.


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