northstory + co

Rainbow Party – Loot Bags

If there’s any one thing that gets people riled up about kids birthday parties, it’s the great loot bag debate. Some people hate them. Some people love them. Others think they’ve gotten out of control. And it also doesn’t matter what you give, someone is almost bound to be offended at what you put in the bag.

If you put in little toys and trinkets, parents get upset that their homes are being cluttered with more dollar store junk and creating environmental waste.

If you put in candy, parents get upset that you’re feeding their kids sugar.

If you don’t give one out, parents think you’re cheap.

If you give out an adult appeasing one, the kids will hate you.

There’s even the anti-loot bag movement where if you give one period, you’re screwed.

You just can’t win.

However if there is one thing I have learned very quickly in the mere several years that we have been going to birthday parties is the purpose of the loot bag (for kids) isn’t so much about the contents in it.

It’s a distraction to get your kid out of the party when you say “I’m sorry honey you have to now leave your friends and cake and games and the fun you’ve been having to go back to your boring home and please don’t scream when I tell you this so that I’m not that parent that drags out the hysterical child from the party while doing the Queen wave and 1950’s housewife Colgate smile to the remaining judging guests all staring at me.”

Loot bags are a very regional thing. What’s acceptable in one area is too much for another. They’re also cultural.

Now I am not adverse to them (considering this post is entitled Rainbow Party Loot Bags, did that give that part away?) because I don’t mind making them. But I do tend to really think about what to put in them.

Usually I go with one ‘want’ item, one ‘need’ item and something to eat. And I try to make it complimentary the birthday girl – that is, put in items that represent things she likes and uses as well as the theme of the party.

Because my party had a budget, all of these loot bag items that I made (and the products to make them) were bought in bulk, so I could make and put together the items to keep costs down. When all was said and done they rounded out to about $2.50 – 3 per bag per kid. You just need a bit of sweat equity.

First, what do you do when you have a million IKEA PYSSLA beads for the bracelet making craft portion of the party?

You make each kid a matching rainbow bead washer necklace with their name stamped on it. This goes back to my childhood where I couldn’t find anything with the name Alexandra on it. I was always stuck with Sandra or Alexander. So I totally get the excitement of a child when they see something made just for them with their name on it. Because I never had that.

These were stamped with a TEKTON Letter and Number Stamp Set. It’s been the best $13 I’ve spent in a long time.

And what do you do when you have 50 yards (yes I ordered more of of ebay) of Rainbow Ribbon?

You make notebooks with your leftover Avery Key Tags from your Mason Jar Cups.

Last year Little L’s teacher had a system where if a parent needed to get in touch with her, she’d have these communication bags for the kids that they brought to and from school every day. In them you’d put in a note if you had a question, comment etc. I was always searching for notepad paper at 10 pm at night. So I thought it would be great for every child to have their own notebook with their name on it so that maybe it could be used for the school year.

Or to draw pictures in or be a master detective writing down clues to find the Care Bears hiding in the yard.

Rainbow licorice + Rainbow lollipops.

And the most important, crayons.

I have been giving out crayons every year since we started having birthday parties. My daughter is a drawing addict. There are new pictures hung randomly on our walls everyday. It’s like a changing art gallery.

Little L’s birthday also falls right before school starts and I always scour for deals. Now that she’s older and the guests are older, I got these Crayola Pencil Crayons on a weekend Back to School blitz sale at 70% off . A $1.25 each. That was a huge score considering there’s no way I’d have paid the almost $5 asking price for them.

The toddlers that were coming got colouring books and crayons (also a Back to School sale at .75 cents a box).

And yes. Babies. We do a huge family/friends party so we know they’re coming and even though they don’t need a loot bag, it’s a nice gesture and avoids the sibling fights in the car.

That’s the IKEA LEKA rainbow coloured ball.

It’s me. You knew IKEA was going to be incorporated into this party somehow. It’s almost taken over.

That mason jar with the twigs in it…that’s a lollipop tree. That’s coming in the main party post. I swear these Rainbow posts are ending soon.

If you’re reading this and are like “Woman are you _____ crazy? Who has time for this?”, I get it. It’s a lot crafting.

Those words usually come out of my mouth half the time I am browsing Pinterest. Yes hypocrisy and me like this.

I used to have an extremely demanding career where I used to buy stuff during my lunch hour and that’s if I had time to eat lunch that day. Doing the crafting route takes time.

And you have to love crafting in order to sit down and do a rainbow order necklace while watching TV at 10 pm, squinting into your IKEA PYSSLA container with the dim light of your living room fan to differentiate the red beads from the orange beads. Just me?

But get inspired and steal some of the ideas and then order anything you need online to save costs and shops sales during the year. Stock up on crayons now for that January party. Instead of stamped washers, find initial necklaces at the local Ardene outlet store where they can be as cheap as 10 items for $5. Or give out a kid each a pair of Rainbow socks, different coloured headbands or a pack of rainbow hair elastics. Think what can they use but is still fun. Hoard the Halloween candy Smarties or Twizzlers when they go on sale and use them for your candy part.

Shopping sales can be equal if not better to the DIY route. I don’t always do the DIY route. But I always do the crayon route. If I was to give one item every year, it’d be some form of art supplies – crayons, pencil crayons, markers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put away the extra licorice that I bought and am trying not to keep eating…and totally forgot to put out on the main food table at the party.

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  • Reply
    Apartment Envy
    September 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

    You’re amazing!!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

    OMG divs so cute! First of all how come when I was young I wasn’t allowed to have boyz at my party!! Not fair!! Love this idea so cute and so cheap but again I have no patience to do this kind of stuff so I am going to have to hire you to throw my parties for me!! xo

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      September 2, 2012 at 10:04 am

      LOL! Ok I need to make you one for work but first I have to find some sparkly ribbon.

      • Reply
        September 13, 2017 at 3:13 pm

        Love the party bags now going to look at your other rainbow ideas 🌈

  • Reply
    September 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Wow!!! Love them all!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Your “goodie” bags came out so cute! I am a fan of DIY crafting as well, but you’re right, you have to really love it because it takes a ton of time. I am a new readers of your blog and I loving all your rainbow party DIY posts…and the voice in which you write them in. They have me giggling and nodding along!

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      September 2, 2012 at 10:05 am

      They took a long time, I can’t lie. Just because the orders had to be the same and it’s fun when you finish a strand to realize you missed a purple or blue bead way at the bottom. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    you came up with GREAT goodie bags. something for everyone. and you’re right about kids loving their names on things. that was a fantastic call!

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      September 2, 2012 at 10:06 am

      I knew it was a hit when the boys hoarded them and made sure they didn’t leave the party without their necklaces. I just kept thinking this is either going to be a bomb and they’re going to ask me where their light changing lightsabers were (I totally thought of that).

  • Reply
    September 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve been going backwards reading through all the rainbow party posts and you actually get my creative juices flowing. Now I want to start planning the next birthday party (which isn’t for almost another year) so if you’re feeling bored, I’ll definitely let you help. 🙂

  • Reply
    the inseparables
    August 16, 2016 at 4:57 am

    OMG you are such a crazy super mom!

    • Reply
      August 16, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      It’s so funny because this party was almost 4 years ago now and every time I look at the photos or get a new comment (just based on how life/time changes) I sit there and go “How? When? I am tired just looking at it all.” My daughter wants a rainbow cake again for her birthday this year and I am like “Yeah chocolate cake sounds great doesn’t it?”

  • Reply
    Gayelle Raynor
    July 19, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I was getting exhausted trying to find my daughter’s party stuff with my daughter’s favorite characters from BabyTV. I came across your pics on Pintrest and now have a plan B. Thanks so much for posting instructions also. It has made my job of party planner much easier.

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      That’s so sweet of you to write! Thank you so much and I hope your daughter has a great party!

  • Reply
    Marlene paemoller
    February 4, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    you should sell online!

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