The Goody Bag – it's become the exclaimation point to every kid birthday party from Miami to Seattle. As guests leave, they are handed a cellophane pouch filled with bouncy balls, star-shaped sunglasses, kazoos, and random pieces of candy that are destined to end up in the trash (if they even make it home). It is what I affectionately refer to as "the bag of junk." 

But my children have come to expect – dare I say, deserve – a parting gift when they have attended a birthday party. As if the entertainment, food, and camaraderie were not enough, they cannot wait to get their sticky hands on another bag of junk.

The time has come for us parents to reevaluate the almighty Goody Bag. What alternatives can we offer as birthday party momentos? If a thank-you-for-coming token is something you wish to offer the tiny guests at your child's party, consider these alternatives.

1. Baked Goodies

Have your birthday boy or girl help make a batch of cookies, fudge, or crispie cereal treats to share with their party guests. These parting gifts are not only delcious, but cost effective as well.

2. Art Goodies

Browse the craft and art supply stores to see what types of deals you can find on smelly markers, beads, and stickers. One of the best items my child received after a party was a baggy filled with string and beads to make a bracelet.

3. Learning Goodies

Books, puzzles, and brain teaser card packs are creative ways to encourage learning while having fun. Find bulk discounts online or check your local Dollar Store for ways to purchase without busting your wallet seams.

4. Outdoor Goodies

Handing out items like jump ropes, bubbles, and bug catchers will encourage little party goers to enjoy the great outdoors.

5. Coupon Goodies

Visit your local doughnut or ice cream shop and ask about purchasing a book (or group) of coupons for a free treat. Each of your guests will be thrilled to receive a voucher for a special goody to be enjoyed another day. 

The next time you find yourself grabbing for a bag of glitter covered whistles, stop and remember this list! All gift bags don't have to be cheap junk - you can find inspiration for new ideas almost anywhere you look.