5 Money Saving Ideas for party bags that don’t cost the earth

No children’s party is really complete without a party bag. But over the past few years of attending and running birthday parties, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with how much quickly discarded plastic stuff ends up being included in this birthday stalwart.

Even when I’ve Googled eco-friendly party bags the information offered back to me has been at best patchy, at worst hugely expensive. This year however I had a go at creating party bags that were both environmentally conscious and didn’t cost me a fortune. Here are a few of those ideas…

Friendship bracelets

The friendship bracelet idea actually came from my six-year-old. She received a friendship bracelet making kit for Christmas which we played with over the summer holidays, when she suggested we make them for her party bags.

As we already had the kit the materials were effectively free for us. If you were to buy a kit it would cost you somewhere in the region of £6 – £8.00.

You can however buy individual skeins of embroidery threads – including packs of 50 for as little as £5.99 (from Amazon) thereby slashing the cost of making the bracelets to as little as 10p each, with loads of threads left over (for next year, Christmas, other crafting activities…).

Each bracelet (once I’d honed my pattern and reminded myself of how to do them) took about 15 minutes for me to make, longer if my daughter was doing it obviously.

Homemade Bath Bombs

I am endlessly amazed at how much my kids love bath bombs – and how flipping expensive they are to buy!

I used this recipe on the BBC Good Foods website and it worked pretty well. We got about 6 bath bombs per batch and the kids and I had great fun figuring out exactly the right amount of water to add to the mix. After fretting our first bomb was too dry we added a few more drops of water only to spend the afternoon watching the batch bubble and double in size! It was a bit like a chemistry experiment on our kitchen window ledge. Later that evening we popped one of the ‘failed’ bombs into the kids bath – only to find it fizzed and whizzed and put on a bombingly good show anyhow!

Official bath bomb making moulds are pretty expensive so we used some little yoghurt pots for moulds which worked really well.

I used lavender oil to fragrance them and some lavender flowers from a plant I have in the garden. I used just a little bit of blue food colouring and a tiny bit of red to make very pale blue and pink coloured batches which looked quite pretty.

It does require quite a lot of bicarbonate of soda – I think I bought two additional tubs from the supermarket. However, you can buy bigger packets of bicarbonate of soda for less money online.

Despite the bicarbonate of soda expense I was pleased to discover that actually each bomb cost around 27p.

Daffodil Bulbs

Because the kids have autumn birthdays it’s pretty easy to just pop a daffodil bulb in the party bags – and this year was no different. At £3.00 for a bag of 30, the bulbs work out at 10p each, so a definite bargain.

This year, in order to make more of a thing of it, I also scoured my garden and gathered together every small unused plastic plant pot holder I had, so that it was basically an ‘add your own soil and go’ type activity that kids could do when they got home.

There are lots of different ways you can do the plant thing at different times of the year – Becky Goddard-Hill in her brilliant book ‘A year of nature craft and play’ has a recipe for wildflower seed balls which I think would make a great alternative. I’ve also seen other people make little brown envelopes of wildflower or cress seeds and pop those into party bags too.

Home Made Sweets

As with many of these ideas, my inspiration for the sweetie element of the bag came from looking around at what we had in the house already, including things that would benefit from being used up.

An uneaten box of Rice Crispies and leftover toasting marshmallows from a summer camping trip made making marshmallow crispy cakes the obvious solution. One thing to note is that mini-marshmallows are hugely more expensive than regular sized ones – £1.00 per 100g for the minis vs 0.85p for 200g of normal sized ones. Well worth getting sticky and cutting up the bigger ones for the saving!

In the end, I didn’t put these in the party bags, instead we had them as part of the party tea and I popped slices of wrapped-up birthday cake in the bags. They worked out at 10p per cake and went down a treat at the party.


We had a big book of tattoos in the house that someone had given us earlier in the year and so that was my non-environmental but quite a fun concession that I made in adding to the party bag.

What’s the cost of eco-friendly party bags?

Research into party bag spending estimates that parents pay up to £5.00 per party bag which quickly gets very expensive. The average falls somewhere between £2 – £4.00.

Per ItemCost to meCost generalNotes
Friendship bracelet0.000.10Already had kit
Bath bomb0.270.27 
Daffodil bulb0.300.30 
Tattoo0.000.14Already had tattoos
Krispie cake0.090.09 
Party bag0.440.44 
Total cost1.101.34 

I used or used up a lot of things I already had in the house (like the friendship bracelet making kit and the tattoos we’d been gifted) so my spend per bag was only £1.10. However even factoring in buying threads for friendship bracelets and a book of tattoos the price only increases to £1.34 per bag.

Just as importantly for me, there was very little plastic in the bags, therefore reducing the environmental impact of them on the world. I was pretty impressed to discover that it is possible to pull together a sweet looking eco-friendly party bag at the bottom end of the standard budgeting scale.

Absolutely it took more time to construct, but the activities were fun things I could do with my children. It got them involved in thinking about what a party bag is, what could and should go in them and gave me the opportunity to have discussions with them about the impact of plastics in our environment.

For more money saving tips on a children’s party read this hugely popular post from Mrs Mummypenny

Rebecca Megson-Smith is a writer, writing coach and feminist, Fuelled by books, tea and time by the sea. You can find her on her website, Instagram @ridleywrites and lurking on Twitter @ridleywrites.


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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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