Birthday Parties and Loot Bags


So, the other weekend we had our oldest son’s, Big Boy’s, 7th birthday party.

Big Boy’s actual birthday was not for a few more days but we decided to have his party on a weekend that the husband was off.

We rented a theatre room at our local movie store for our son and four of his friends to watch a “newish” movie. I had tried to get Big Boy to pick a movie he had not already seen but of course, he chose one he had. He enjoyed The Smurfs so much that he wanted his closest friends to see it too. Oh well! It meant that I would get to watch Neil Patrick Harris (one of my favourite actors) again so I was OK with that.

The theatre room cost $40 and it includes the movie, the room, and popcorn for the kids (and maybe for us adults).

I thought it was a unique idea for a party!

However, one thing that I detest about birthday parties is LOOT BAGS.

Usually these little bags of fun (that I dread) contain things like candy, toys, pencils, mini play-dough, or stickers. And whenever one of these little bags gets brought home, I sift through it to see if there is actually anything in there we will use. Otherwise, most of the contents end up in the garbage.

Honestly, and this is my personal opinion only, I think loot bags are a big waste of time and money.

I stress each year over what to put in these darn things.

Last year, I did not even bother with loot bags.

I thought that since we were renting a bouncy slide, which cost about $150 for a few hours, was enough “loot” for the kids to enjoy. Along with all the food, cake, and drinks we had bought for the party, the cost of the party was quite high.

Of course, there were a couple of kids who commented about no loot bags.

One child even went up to the husband and said, “well, I have never been to a birthday party that did not give out loot bags! This is crazy!”

I blew it off.

Anyway, the husband insisted we do loot bags this year. He wanted to make a little bag of jujubes and other sweet treats. So, off to the local bulk bin I went and bought a few assorted bags of candies. At least it wasn’t too difficult or mind boggling to put together. I even found candies in different Lego shapes. They were pretty cool. And the candies went well with the movie theatre theme.

So, what is your opinion on loot bags?

Brandy Reid is a stay at home mom to two very active and hockey obsessed boys. As a former YA librarian, Brandy loves to read and is obsessed with reading everyday whether it be books or blogs. Brandy proudly admits that she is a wee bit addicted to social media, especially Twitter. She also believes that everything in life you can related to the iconic TV Show Friends. No day is complete without chocolate.


  1. Theresa Mahoney
    Theresa MahoneyReply
    September 6, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I actually like loot bags and have a lot of fun putting them together. Though I am one who hates all the dollar spot plastic crap that gets tossed in there. You know, like mardi gras beads and such. I think it is a nice gesture to pass out the loot bags- kind of a way to say thanks for taking time out of your day to come celebrate my day with me.

  2. Kathryn
    September 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    I agree that while loot bags are fun, loot bags full of cheap dollar-store doodads that will either break in a day or just get thrown out are a HUGE waste. This year our “loot bags” were actually dessert bags that I made myself, containing marshmallow pops, sugar cookie pops, candies, gold coins and a Kinder egg. Then I gave them to the boys along with a Super Mario Bros. ball cap and water bottle I’d made myself. Way cheaper than a traditional loot bag and it makes me grin every time I see one of the boys from Zack’s party wearing his hat around town!

    Here’s the post I did about our party; I’m totally in love with the dessert table concept and will definitely be using it again next year:

  3. Brandi Yee
    September 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I enjoy doing loot bags as long as there’s not a lot of miscellaneous cheap stuff that will be thrown out. So I put a few edible goodies, maybe a book, pencils, stickers or erasers. I just hate how costly they can be, but do like the gesture of giving them out to the kids who come. I can’t believe the theatre room was only $40! That’s great!

  4. orangeheromama
    September 6, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    ugh! loot bags drive me CRAZY because I know that half the time i throw the crap out that we get in loot bags..i like the idea of throwing stuff in like fun pencils and erasers, jump rope, funny bookmark, or even hand out a gift card for a local ice cream shop or similar so they can go get a treat..

  5. Christine
    September 6, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Loot bags drive me crazy too if they’re the junky kinds of things that end up getting tossed after. Throwing a birthday party is a huge expense as it is, but I do love the idea of giving kids something tangible to take home and remember the day by. What I’ve done is for Little One’s first birthday, BornFree gave every kid at the party a BornFree Twist’n Pop straw cup. That was one of the perks of being a BornFree mom when the panel was still up. This year I’m thinking of doing Mabel’s Labels, but that’s really depends on how many kids will be there. If it’s anything like last year, it may end up being too expensive.

  6. Nancy Polanco
    September 6, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I hate making them but, I always do. I put in candy, chocolate and a lot of little games for them. I don’t want to sugar load them and tell them to wait til they get home to bust them open. Since you hand them out at the end anyways! Birthday parties tend to run high over here, I guess I didn’t really have them growing up, I do it for my girls. :D

  7. Little Miss Kate
    September 6, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    I don’t really do “loot bags” either, people but way too much thought/money in to them just for “stuff” that will be tossed out. For DS first b-day party I made personalized shirts for each kids that came to the party (there were only 6 of our close friends kids). This last year, I just gave out $5 gift cards.

  8. Canadian Dad
    September 6, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    I don’t really care about them one way or the other. I think it’s better suited for 5-6 and under anyway but it’s hilarious that the kid called you out on it!

  9. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    You are correct. They are a nice way of saying thank you. I just wish I was more creative with loot bags.

  10. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Love it! What a great idea!

  11. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    It was a super great deal. But then again, it doesn’t fit many people. I see it being used mainly for date nights. But it was a nice lil idea for a small bday party!

  12. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    One year a friend of ours held a hockey party at our local hockey rink and handed out pucks with a coupon to get a treat, drink, and popcorn at the next local junior hockey game. I thought that was neat but would have been costly.

  13. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Giving out labels is a good idea but could be costly. It’s original though!

  14. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Aww, that is nice that you do it for your girls. It was just that one year we didn’t do the bags and boy did we hear about it. LOL!

  15. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    The shirt idea is neat! Maybe I will have to join Pinterest finally to get some ideas. LOL!

  16. Brandy InsaneMamacita
    September 6, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Nice huh? hehe! Oh well, we will still do them, I just don’t like doing it. ;)

  17. Elizabeth Lampman
    Elizabeth LampmanReply
    September 6, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    I used to love getting loot bags but come to think of it I think my mom always threw the stuff out after a day or two.

  18. Deanna T.
    September 7, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    I hate when my daughter gets them because they are filled with useless junk that I end up tossing, usually not even age appropriate or safe! I’ve yet to try, but I seriously think loot bags could potentially be done right. I’ve seen so many cool ideas on etsy and in independent online stores etc.

  19. Just Us Girls
    September 7, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    I actually love loot bags, well the ones I make for my kids parties. Everything I add in the bags I always make sure it will be used and not thrown away. I usually go to the states and get candy from the Dollar Tree (they have such an amazing selection) and I get items that the kids will actually use. This Summer for my daughter’s party I added a few pieces of candy, a couple of pencils, a medium size notebook/journal, lip gloss for the girls and I take a group picture of all the kids at the party and go inside and print out a copy for each guest with a cheap frame I get from the Dollar Store as well. The girls loved it, I even had a few phone calls from the moms about the picture and frame idea. :)

  20. Mama of 3
    Mama of 3Reply
    September 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    I don’t like the loot bags either, all those junky toys that just get thrown out. Its a waste of money, but the kids do expect them. What I have done in the past for my younger two is hit up the Dollarama or Dollar Store with more, and get coloring books for each of the kids (usually only a buck each) so its really no more expensive then doing the junky toys and old people candies lol. Couple years ago for my older boys I did chip bags or chocolate bars and a can of pop, they were so happy. One year I also did hot wheels cars for my older boys b-day but that we about 5 yrs ago and they were under a buck a piece, now there over a dollar each for the individual ones. Those are my ideas for more reasonable “loot” bags.

  21. Cheryl
    September 9, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I don’t really like loot bags for the same reason many other moms talked about below – usually cheap little things that last two minutes and then kids are bored with it. I’d rather have like something edible or a small book or craft supplies that they can use. But like you pointed out, renting bouncy castles and party rooms are expensive enough that that is “loot enough” for the kids :)

  22. Nancy
    January 10, 2015 at 11:00 PM

    I think that loot bags are a great way to say thank you for coming to my son’s/daughter’s birthday party. Kids always look forward to receiving them, as I think it is a staple in going to a children’s birthday party. I do however find myself throwing most if not all of the items found in loots bags out as they usually contain junky items from the dollar store. I myself enjoy putting loot bags together as I know how happy the children are when they receive cool stuff in their loot bag. I usually have a theme for the party and I try to carry it out in the loot bag. I try to make sure every child has a memorable time as it makes the birthday boy/girl feel extra special as well!