How to Make a Gift Bag

Pleasing the Crowd Without Breaking the Bank

For a kid's party, gift bags should be filled with fun toys, age-appropriate activities and maybe a few edible treats.

They all show up, gifts in hand, to celebrate your child's birthday. When the party's over, send those guests home with a gift bag packed with fun, age-appropriate goodies. A surefire way to make gift bags that kids will actually cherish? Pick a fun theme to inspire your choices. Echo the theme of the party, or let the birthday kid choose her own theme.

Arts and Crafts

Perfect for both boys and girls, art supplies are also appropriate for kids of all ages. Fill gift bags with stamps, stickers and crayons for a younger crowd, or opt for acrylic paints, brushes, and pastels or artist's markers for grade schoolers. Include a pad of drawing paper, or kick your gift bag game up a step by including a small wrapped canvas with each bag.

Seasonal Fun

Anything that encourages kids to get outside and play is a hit with parents. In warm weather months, fill plastic sand buckets with items that kids can use for outdoor play. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, small bouncing balls, jump ropes and water balloons are all affordable and popular with kids of varying ages. If it's winter and you live in a snowy place, start by buying snow molds, which kids can fill with snow to make blocks for igloos and other creations. Pack these plastic molds with snow markers, plastic shovels, snowman-decorating kits and packets of hot chocolate.

Beauty Bags

If your daughter is having a princess party for all her tiara-loving friends, you can safely guess that all the guests will swoon for gift bags packed with girly treats. Fill bags with stick-on earrings, nail polish and lip gloss. Give younger girls accessories like plastic rings and necklaces. Older kids may love receiving items that allow them to pamper themselves at home, like a foot scrubber and a toe separator for pedicures.

These gifts are a hit with most girls (and some boys), but you may want to run the ideas past the other parents first. Some have strong ideas about giving their kids makeup and beauty products.

Book Bags

Especially if your child is a burgeoning bookworm or if the party has a literary theme, book gift bags should be a hit. Buy cheap canvas totes that kids can take with them to the library. Stuff each one with a few age-appropriate paperbacks and a cute bookmark. Not sure which kids will like which books? Buy several copies of a bunch of titles and set up a "bookstore" near the party exit. Tell kids how many books they can choose, then let them pick their own.

Snacks for Days

No one has to know that you decided to make snack gift bags so you could eat the extra treats. Gift bags stuffed with snacks are especially popular with boys between 8 and 12, who tend to have bottomless appetites, but most kids will be delighted to go home with tasty treats.

These bags are a little time-consuming to make, mostly because you should contact every parent first to ask about any food allergies or dietary restrictions their kids have. But putting them together is nothing but fun. Include mostly healthy-ish options like fruit snacks, baked cheese crackers, veggie chips and organic cookies. Add an apple to each bag as a nutritious finishing touch.

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