Tips for memorable favors that last

Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson

My son’s birthday is January 11, so this year’s birthday party treat bags were full of post-Christmas party favors that I bought on sale. We’re talking mini Santa puzzles, red and green Yo-Yo’s, reindeer erasers – the works. While I thought I was being thrifty and clever (he and his friends weren’t disappointed – he’s five), I realized that the same amount of money likely could have been spent on favors that would last longer than the car ride home from the party. So, to help other parents plan upcoming parties, we reached out to local moms and party experts to get the inside scoop on their favorite favors. We hope these inspire you – party on!

Frozen Fun
Flagstaff mom of two Heather Gearhart’s three-year-old daughter, like millions of other kids, loves the movie Frozen. In addition to her super cute Olaf cupcake cake (great for individual servings – all even pieces!), Gearhart took to Pinterest to find “Olaf in a Snowstorm” glitter globes that the kids made at the party and then later took home.
Essentially, in bottles or mason jars, kids combine water, glitter, glue, cotton balls, and other supplies to make it look like Olaf is caught in a snowstorm! Minimal mess and fuss.
Gearhart noted that these favors not only were fun to make and keep but also doubled as “chill out bottles” when completed. To find step-by-step directions, simply search for “Olaf in a Snowstorm Glitter Bottles” online. Insider tip: Pinterest or 30minutecrafts.com feature this craft and countless other Frozen themed favors and party ideas.

Fairytales
For girls who love Tinkerbelle, Pinspiration, a new creative studio space in the Valley, has the perfect craft and take-home favor: a DIY Fairy House. The experts at Pinspiration provide these tips: Have your child paint a 1×8-1/2-inch plastic foam disk with brown acrylic paint. Gather 6- to 8-inch twigs and push them into the foam in a circle pattern, tilting the twigs at an angle so they meet in the center as shown; leave room for a door. Fill in any gaps by pushing smaller twigs into the holes. Then let your child’s imagination run wild as she decorates with natural supplies.

LEGO Letters
For boys and girls who can’t get enough of the world’s favorite building blocks, Pinspiration recommends creating LEGO letters – a fun keepsake for each guest. Here’s how it works: with a little tray, glue, a pile of LEGOs and a cardboard stencil of a letter, this LEGO craft helps control the LEGO pile and is a great take home for room decor. It’s perfect for any LEGO themed party!

Special Keepsakes
Party favors don’t always have to be traditional crafts to be memorable. Take it from these Valley parents:

“We put together a frog hunting kit (could be used as a bug hunting) for my son’s birthday that was a hit,” says mom of three Stephanie Jarnagan. “It was a mason jar wrapped with a flashlight that goes on your head. Inside the jar were trail mix, a nice magnifying glass, and a frog (or bug) ID booklet. The main expense was the head flashlight (bought at Costco in packs of three), which the kids loved!”

“I did a ‘Wild Kratts’ party for Jackson and got each kid animal field guides and a plastic animal,” says Jodie Heisner, an East Valley mom of two. “For my daughter’s Goldie Blocks party we made inventions (with kits) and each girl got to take one home.”

“I found that water bottles from the dollar store are a big hit as a party favor. Parents and kids can never have enough water bottles,” says Anne Christenson. “Also inexpensive frames from Ikea are a good idea. Especially if you send a thank you note after the party that includes a photo of your child with the child guest to fill the frame.”

A Keepsake Fit for Royalty
You can never go wrong with crowns – they fit any princess or prince themed fiesta. Pinspiration experts provide simple instructions for memorable headgear:
For ribbon crowns, simply use pipe cleaners, glitter wire and curling ribbon. For flower crowns, have these items on hand:
• Boning (the stiff but flexible stuff one would sew into a corset)
• Floral tape (it’s stretchy and sticky)
• Assorted cloth ribbons
• Fabric glue or other adhesive
• Flower versions (get a variety of silk flowers)
Simply shape into a crown and let the little royal court and its guests decorate!

For more information on the Pinspiration crafts, visit www.pinspirationaz.com.

Michelle Talsma Everson is a mom, publicist, and freelance writer and editor. She plans to revisit some of these ideas for her son’s next birthday.

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