Party bags can seem like so much hassle, and they can add up to a substantial amount of money if you’re hosting a large kids party. But it’s still nice to give a small toy and cake, even if you do want to get rid of the plastic tat that usually ended up broken straight away and thrown out. Often it’s not even able to be recycled.  So what type of party bag fillers can you give to remove the single use plastic and making party bags more sustainable.

I’ve always tried to make longer lasting party bags, because you can get decent gifts for not much money. And children need to learn to appreciate all gifts. They don’t need plastic toys that break quickly, even if they do give that instant gratification.

eco friendly kids party bag ideas - Bubbablue and me

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Here I’ve pulled together some kids party bag ideas aimed at primary age children, party bag ideas for age 4 to 9 year olds. Hopefully they’ll inspire ideas for different age children having a birthday party.

Criteria for these products being included on my list are that they need to be one of the following:

  • Non single use plastic party toys
  • Can be recycled or have recyclable parts
  • Gifts that can be good for any age so will last for longer than one play

Prices will be varied. We tend to do smaller parties with only a handful of friends, so I might pay a little more per person per party bag, than I would for a larger party. But you can search around for cheaper versions online or in wholesale places if you start researching early.

Get more eco-friendly party bags

Paper bags – get the kids to decorate them (avoid adding stickers so they can be recycled), with pens or paint at the party, or by the birthday children. You could stamp patterns on them.

Small cool bag – this becomes the gift, just add cake, and a paper or cardboard cone of homemade or pick and mix sweets. Check out fun ones like these from Sass & Belle.

Biodegradable balloons – these can be put into a compost bin once finished with.

making paper party bags

Crafty party bag fillers

Decopatch* boxes or letters to decorate with some papers, paintbrush and instructions on how to do it – just add PVA glue, or use decopatch glue/varnish at the party.

T-shirt decorating kit – make up with a plain t shirt and fabric pens or paint

Friendship bracelet kit – include embroidery threads and a couple of wooden beads to finish off, plus a worksheet of instructions.

Mason jars with dry cookie mix or layered cake mix, instructions and either cupcake cases or cookie cutter.

Pom pom kit – split a pack of pom pom makers, add a ball of wool and instructions

Party bag toys

Outdoor toys – Football, beach ball and bat set, kite (we love the pocket parafoil kites as they’re easy to fly), skipping rope.

Card games like Uno or Top Trumps (buy whole sale or look out for sales through the year to get games cheaper)

Travel games – like Battleships or Chess – I found a great wooden chess set in a bag in Flying Tiger for a bargain price last year.

Musical instruments – harmonica, penny whistle*, recorder (be prepared for parents to hate you if you get the latter)

Small soft toy – these can be themed to the party (Tsum Tsums are more expensive, but if you can find a good offer, they might be an option).

Windmill toys – make these out of cardboard or strong paper as a pinwheel party activity, or look out for ones which can be recycled.

Books – buy boxed sets of standalone stories and split them up for a good value gift

Reusable water bottle – fill with sweets or pens/rubbers

Mason jar with straws* – you can get funky ones with silicon straws or just plain with metal straws.

Wind up torch* – especially for younger children, you can get these on animal themes.


Themed party gifts

Bandana – for a pirate themed birthday, use the banana as the gift wrapping or just the main gift.

Sweatbands or tennis balls – tennis themed party

Twirling baton or gymnastic ribbon for a gym or dance party

Obviously to top off the party bags, add a slice of cake and rather than giving our plastic bags of sweets, look to buy bigger bags to divide up or pick and mix. Try making cardboard sweet cones rather than putting in plastic bags.

These are just some of the longer lasting options you can try to get rid of single use plastics from kids party bags. 1 gift and a slide of cake should suffice for most children at parties (and if they moan, they need to learn that party favours shouldn’t be expected.

Find my other party bag idea posts below:

What type of gifts have you used in party bags to be more eco friendly?

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