Today I picked up my nine-year-old daughter from the third birthday party in as many weeks. As we walked to the car she animatedly told me about the cake, the chocolate fountain, and the scavenger hunt, her enthusiastic gestures highlighted by the new red and black bracelet decorating her wrist. “What’s this?” I inquired. She responded blithely that the intricately woven rubber bands were a party favor made by the birthday boy for each of his party guests.
What?! This boy, newly turned ten, has upstaged me in the party host department. I have been throwing and attending kids’ parties for nine years and have never stopped to consider how sweet a gesture the party favor really is. Even more so when it is homemade! Just as an invitation sets the tone for a party, a favor leaves your guests with a way to remember how fabulous it was.
I hereby declare goody bags are not just for the grade-school set any longer and offer you the following ways to take your dinner parties from nice to knock-your-socks-off.
Infused foods and drinks are, basically, ordinary foodstuffs enhanced and taken to the next level — a perfect metaphor for the panache a parting gift adds to a simple gathering. Try small jars of infused sugar, or pretty bottles with dressed up olive oil or vodka.
Forget the stomach; the way to a person’s heart is through her taste buds. Sure, people like to feel full, but what they really want is to be delighted by their food. When the party is over allow the sweetness to linger by sending guests off with a tidbit for the ride home or tomorrow’s cocktail hour. Macaroons are a fun favorite with French flair. Honey straws are tasty on their own or added to tea. If your festivities featured a signature dessert or cocktail, create small gift boxes with two of the main ingredients and the recipe.
Whether you choose an herb used in your main course or a fragrant seedling from your picnic location, small potted plants are wonderful gestures of friendship. To give a lot of love with little maintenance, choose easy-care plants such as succulents or air plants. In a pinch, seed packets or seed paper gifts are a easy substitute.
If you are still at a loss, choose favors inspired by the party’s theme and let them contribute to setting the scene. The big draw here is that these gifts keep giving — first as party decor, then as favors, and finally, as useful objects with the added bonus of having sweet memories attached. Substitute napkins with pretty tea towels or use monogrammed notebooks for place cards guests can take with them. You can get black journals inexpensively – or consider a tea tasting journal for a tea party.
More than anything else, your party favors should embody the feeling you want your guests to take away from your event. In a word: love.
Photo Credits: HGTV, peddhapati, Sean A. O’Hara, and Now Designs.