How do you feel about party favors? A party maker, or a budget breaker?

For most people, favors have become an expected part of any party or event. And although they are seen by some as a thoughtful way to express thanks to your guests and/or serve as a memento of a special event, the great news is that they are certainly NOT REQUIRED.

Wedding Favors: If you are hosting a wedding, you are serving your guests a delicious meal, and are providing them with a night of entertainment, company and open bar, isn’t that a great way to show them their gifts are appreciated? Most guests won’t mind that they aren’t getting a monogrammed shot glass or bottle opener with your wedding date to add to the other five that they already own.

The good news is that if you aren’t spending money on favors that people don’t really want, or need (ever look around on the tables at the end of the night? Often times, guests don’t take them!) then, you can do something with the extra money that you aren’t spending on favors, like renting that photo booth you really want, or providing a late night snack to guests towards the end of the night after dancing.

Pro-tip: If you’re a little more traditional and you’d like to give an actual favor to guests, think of items that can be used, enjoyed and then tossed when done, without breaking the bank.

Party Favors/Goody Bags: So, I am going to be totally vulnerable and tell you my PERSONAL thoughts on goody bags. After all, I am a mom of three (almost four) and have had plenty of experience both planning and attending plenty of kids’ parties. Judge me if you must, but I completely detest party favors and goody bags. Why? I’ll tell you why. I hate coming home with bags of toys and trinkets and snacks that I wouldn’t normally allow my kids to eat or play with (times three when all three children have been invited). I often feel like I am put in the position of trying to talk my kids out of opening it all in the car or them throwing it in among the rest of the toys we already own (and don’t really need). And maybe I am the only one here, but I’ll admit that once the kids go to bed, I frantically collect it all from around the house and toss it in the trash before they have time to notice? And then, I absolutely always feel guilty that I am throwing away stuff that we don’t need, but someone else spent money on.

The other reason that I really don’t care for favors at kid’s parties is because I think this feeds in to this mentality of kids always feeling like they need to get something. A party is an occasion to both celebrate and honor someone else? So why are the kids in attendance being rewarded with additional gifts and treats beyond being invited to a party where they were provided with kid-friendly food, dessert, and a few hours of kid-centered fun, games and entertainment?

Pro-tip: If you are going to give a favor, consider sending kids home with one of these affordable gifts to replace the usual assortment of stuff: Ice-cream gift certificates, Storybooks, Side-walk chalk or bubbles, Play-Doh, Coloring books, Small donations to a charity of child’s choice, Puzzle, Amazon or I-tunes single-song download credit, or an edible treat to-go.

Whether or not you choose to include a favor at your wedding or next event, just remember, a favor doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the time to send a hand-written thank you! There’s not greater way to say thank you than by taking the time to tell someone.