Party favors. They’re the worst, right? It seems like we all agree on this, and yet, we all still do them. None of us wants to take home a bag of plastic nonsense from the dollar store or the easy-to-purchase-in-bulk-for-cheap online conglomerate. But, also, no one wants to be THAT mom who doesn’t give out party favors! So, what do we do here?

Now, don’t get me wrong, do my kids love getting them? Sure! Do they use them? For 3.5 minutes! Do I throw them in the trash within a week or so? Damn straight.

But, I love throwing parties. I love a theme. We did a ’90s hip-hop first birthday party for my son (read: for me), and I named all the food after song titles. I love gift giving. But favors are just so annoying and wasteful and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we all do this thing that we mostly hate receiving and we know is a waste. Why? Because we’re supposed to? Because it’s an expectation? If making favor bags is your favorite pastime, by all means, do it, girlfriend. But, for most of us it’s a chore we feel obligated to do so we don’t look bad.

So let’s make a pact. Let’s just all NOT do them. No more party favors! Can you imagine? No more tiny erasers or bubbles or tattoos or random candy. Freedom! 

I have a few suggestions if you want an alternative to simply saying “no more.”

  • Include a “no gifts” note on the party invitations so there is less of a feeling of obligation to return the gift giving with favors.
  • Take a note from wedding trends and make a donation to a nonprofit instead — maybe even encourage guests to do the same! We did this once for March of Dimes, and it was awesome.
  • Have the kids do an activity that they can take home in lieu of a favor. I’ve seen painting projects, potting plants, or even make-your-own dirt cups (substitute for cake AND a favor!).

Be the bold one in your friend or family group to suggest nixing the favors. Someone has to do it! And I bet everyone else will feel relieved when you do. (And while we are at it, let’s let go of other things we do simply out of obligation and not out of desire. We’re all too tired!)

Colleen Lubin is a native of Arlington, MA, who dragged her New Yorker husband back to the Boston area after years of splitting the difference in Connecticut. She has 15 years of experience in training, development, culture, and belonging in higher education and recently moved into the marketing industry. Colleen is a fierce advocate for women and families navigating infertility, loss, and postpartum challenges. Colleen uses honesty, authenticity, and humor to break down the stigma, raise awareness, and support the infertility community on her blog and Instagram at @notquiteknockedup. Colleen is a mom of two miracles, Liam and Logan, born in 2018 and 2020, who keep her both young and tired. She loves listening to '90s hip hop and R&B, trying new recipes, Peloton-ing, sleeping as much as possible, and eating New York bagels. She does not love writing about herself in the third person, calling customer service, or bagels from anywhere but New York.