The Great Loot Bag Debate

by Marlene Alexander

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It's been a long while since we hosted a child's birthday party, so we're a bit out of the loop. Apparently, loot bags at kids' parties have become a topic of controversy. Who knew? It seems that parents are either spending an inordinate amount of money filling the loot bag or its contents are condemned as "junk" that just gets tossed anyway.

Some view loot bags as simply a "pay-off" to partygoers who come bearing gifts for the birthday boy or girl. While this may be true to some extent, wouldn't it be better to think of loot bags as a simple "thank-you for coming?" And, wouldn't it be better still if the loot bags and their contents could continue to entertain long after the last balloon has popped? Is there no middle ground, no hope for this cherished symbol of kid culture? Well, we can certainly try. Here are a few suggestions that cost about $6 each including the contents.

Here's an idea that would be appropriate for either girls or boys. Simply fill this double zippered portfolio case with art supplies like construction paper, scissors, a coloring book, a package of pencil crayons and some crayons. These portfolios come in different kid-friendly prints.

Many little girls love to play "grownup." To that end, why not offer these partygoers a "treat bag" that's reusable for that purpose. The handbag pictured comes in an assortment of patterns. Tie a small colorful scarf to one handle and add some play make-up, an item of costume jewelry (appropriate to the age group), a comb, brush and mirror set and a notebook and pencil for jotting down important engagements. The character notepads come in a package of two and the pencils are packaged six for a dollar.

When looking for treat bag stuffers, don't limit yourself to the toy or candy aisles. For a group of explorers, fill this backpack loot bag with a small camping lantern or flashlight (batteries not included), a pair of binoculars, a sports watch, a critter pen (appropriate for kids 6 and up) and a notebook to write down important observations about ant activities or the like. These backpacks come in a variety of colors and are reusable as lunch bags or to contain toiletries when traveling.

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Marlene Alexander is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. For more on dollar store shopping, visit her website at

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