1. Booty for winners Keep prizes and goodie bags simple. It’s a good idea to give away some of the decorations, such as large paper flowers. Children will love to keep them as a souvenir of the fun they had and parents can put them up in their child’s room. Toddlers also love blown-up rubber or helium balloons, which provide hours of entertainment.
2. Add a little home-made touch Provide a fun going-home present by making home-made play dough. You can put it in little baby-food jars and add a label bearing the recipe, too. To make play dough, combine 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup water, ½ cup salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 tablespoon food colouring in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Stir as the mixture thickens and, when it becomes a dough, remove it from the heat. When cool, knead the mixture for a minute or two and it’s ready.
3. Bye bye, bubbles A bottle of bubble-blowing mixture may seem like the perfect cheap, goodie bag treat, but it’s probably best to avoid it. Most parents loathe bubble mixture, as small children more often than not end up tipping the liquid all over the car on their way home.
4. Pressie time Get into the habit of looking out for party bag items throughout the year and buy them when you see them, especially if they’re on sale. Stationery shops (as well as party shops) are often a good source of useful bits and pieces like fun pencil-toppers and colourful rubbers, crayons or pencils. Don’t think about quantity, or even about how much you spend – think instead about how to present what you are giving to your departing guests. Wrap up your going-home treats nicely and you’ll find that even very simple things are guaranteed to charm the children.
5. Time to head home If your guests are slow to leave, your goodie bags will come into their own – hand them over only as your guests leave, and you’ll be guaranteed an empty house in no time!
More party tips from Junior:
Fifteen fantastic party planning tips and activities
Ten fun children's party themes
Five ideas for perfect party food