In an era of tiny houses, capsule wardrobes, and friends Marie-Kondo-ing their homes, one might be forgiven for imagining that party favors must have long since gone the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird. The mere thought of thrusting little plastic “goodie bags” of cheap, nonsensical (often toxic) trinkets and sugar-laden candies at our eco-friendly, health-conscious friends is enough to make many of us cringe. Surely we’ve reached the point as a society where we can all agree that we’ve all evolved beyond such nonsense and let this old tradition quietly fade away, haven’t we?
The short answer is no. Party hosts who know their history will tell you that favors have been getting dispensed at parties since Medieval times and they aren’t likely to disappear any time soon. instead, like every other aspect of society, they simply evolve.
If the thought of trying to find eco-friendly, socially-conscious tokens that genuinely delight your guests without breaking the bank or our sacrificing your sanity makes you want to swear off throwing parties for the rest of your life, you’re not alone. Fortunately, however, finding just the right favors doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
Here are eight budget-friendly suggestions to get you started.
- Flowers, plants and seeds. There’s nothing trendier right now than the ultimate eco-friendly favor: plants. Whether you bunch wildflowers in tiny jars accented in festive ribbon, send people home with little pots of fragrant herbs, or simply provide them with a packet of heirloom seeds, it’s hard to go wrong.
Want to take things up a notch? Read up on the language of flower and herbs and choose plants that convey a heartfelt message! Need to keep costs down? Use up-cycled jars, pick flowers from your own garden, or snap up seed packets and herbs during a sale at your local garden center.
- Edibles. While the sticky, over-sugared candies you probably remember from childhood goodie bags are out, unique and high-quality edibles are definitely in. Small portions of fancy truffles, artisan caramels, dark chocolate can make a big statement. Need some extra oomph? Select a local artisan your guests may not be familiar with or create flights of seasonally flavored coffees or teas tucked into cute boxes. Throwing a themed party? Order retro candies or one-of-a-kind finds like chocolate sardines or sushi made of candy for an unexpected delight!
- Accessories. Play is essential to good health, and even grown-ups like to dress up. Ensure that all your guests are equipped to party to the max and solve your favors quandary all in one by providing playful accessories your guests can wear, flaunt and photograph during the festivities! Whether you let your inner artist loose and DIY this or buy them pre-made, hats, mustaches, glasses, tiaras, and other wearable bling can liven up your party and provide your guests with a tangible reminder of the great memories they made. You might even find that you can simply provide the materials and encourage your guests to make or customize their own for extra flair! Tip: This idea adapts beautifully to kids’ parties and themed events!
- Small, consumable luxuries. This far-ranging category can include anything from fancy soaps and fizzy bath bombs to small candles to travel-sized tubes of luxurious hand creams. Anything your guests are likely to love but unlikely to splurge on for themselves is fair game. Depending on what you choose, this could be appropriate for any party, but you can expect to get the most mileage out of it at ladies’ events. Tip: Holiday and post-holiday sales can be a great time to pick up goodies like these at great prices. Alternatively, consider buying reliable favorites from trusted companies if your friends’ priorities include things like fair-trade certification and animal cruelty concerns, or if they have known reactions to common chemicals, coloring agents, or other ingredients.
- Journals, sketchbooks or notecards and writing implements. Mindfulness and gratitude are scientifically proven to improve human wellness. Give your guests the gift of reflection and by giving them lovely little notebooks or sketchbooks in which they can capture their thoughts, reflections or snapshots of the best things in life. Alternatively, choose attractive blank cards they can use to jot thank-you notes or uplifting messages to others. To add that little extra something, include a pencil in a bright color or a refillable pen in a cheerful color!
- Books. Brand new or second hand, these can be old favorites, collections of pithy sayings, or traditional classics. Tuck a note inside each cover, inviting guests to pass the book along to a friend, a Little Free Library or a book-swapping site like Paperbackswap when they’re finished with it to keep the love flowing!
Tip: Collecting books ahead of time as you see them at seasonal sales, library sales and book swaps can be the best way to get a great variety of books for pennies.
- Practical Items. One of the most overlooked options for party favors, this category can be one of the most fun! Having a house warming party? Send guests home with mini tape measures or levels. Hosting a Halloween party? Hand out tiny, colorful flashlights guests can use to find their way while trick-or-treating! Dozens of delightful, practical items are available for around $1 each at local hardware and auto parts stores or through online retailers. Expect to be pleasantly surprised by how much everyone loves them!
- Reusable bags. Whether you buy blank canvas and invite your guests to decorate them personally or find pre-printed bags perfect for your theme, there’s exactly zero chance your guests don’t need another good-quality reusable bag in their lives. From groceries to library books to craft projects, their uses are endless. Jazz up their presentation by rolling them, folding them, or pinning a personalized note or saying to each one before handing them out.