Party prizes on a budget

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Birthday party loot bags should not be expensive; there are plenty of great party prizes and loot bag goodies which you can arrange on a budget. Birthday parties are about having fun, not about who got the biggest prize bag to take home.

Prize auction : Points for prizes : Medals and certificates : Home made prizes : Bulk packet prizes 

If you are organising a party on a budget, then it would be nice to take the emphasis off party prizes altogether, but it’s not always that easy. School aged children are particularly fond of prizes at the end of a game, and to whip them away completely may leave some children wondering what’s going on. Find a happy medium, and use token gestures to reward the winners. Most children just want to get something – and they don’t really care what that something is.

Here are some great ideas for arranging birthday party prizes and loot bags on a budget in NZ .

Prize Auction

Instead of having prizes for every game, award each guest some paper money which they can use to bid in a prize auction at the end of the party. You may like to give the winner $100, runner-up $50, and $20 for everybody else that participates. For games like pass the parcel or treasure hunt, have small amounts of money throughout the game, with one bigger prize pool at the end.

Your auction prizes can be really small and inexpensive, because the kids already feel like they have won a prize – the money to spend! It’s amazing how much of their play money they will bid to get a single lollipop or sheet of stickers, and they get so carried away with the bidding, that the auction becomes a game in itself.

To add an extra dimension, and make the prize haul a little fairer, you could wrap up each prize so that the guests do not know what they are bidding for. Remember, you will need to have a number of small prizes for each guest, as they won’t necessarily spend all their play money in one bid. Each prize can be as small or as large as your budget allows.

Points for Prizes

Instead of buying prizes and consolation prizes for each game, make up one small prize packet for every child, and put them all into a big basket. As each game is played, award points to the winner and runner up, and write them on a big chart or whiteboard. If you like you can make up extra reasons to award points, such as nice behaviour or lucky seats.

At the end of the party, the person with the most points gets to pull a prize out of the basket first, followed by the person with the next amount of points, and so on. It’s a nice idea to have just one extra packet, so that the last child to choose still feels like they have a choice.

Medals and Certificates

Instead of prizes for each game, make some certificates on the computer and print them out on to coloured card. You could change the wording of each certificate to match the game and the theme of your party.

Medals can be made out of coloured card also, but for a real medal look, use silver spray paint to decorate jam jar lids. Punch a hole in the lid using a hammer and nail, and then thread through a coloured ribbon so that the medal can be hung around the child’s neck.

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Home Made Prizes

Party prizes do not have to be store bought. With a little bit of imagination you can make some great prizes at home. These are my favourite home made prize ideas to get you started.

  • Decorate some paper cups with glitter and full them with home made fudge.
  • Decorate star shaped cookies and tie them in a cellophane bag, with the star shaped cutter attached to the ribbon.
  • Make up a batch of play dough, and either put fistfuls into plastic containers, or tie them in a cellophane bag.
  • Make up some bubble mixture with dishwashing liquid and water, and pour it into cute little bottles.
  • Make your own bath salts by mixing washing soda and soap flakes together. Put the mixture into pretty jars with a few flower petals for a real girly prize.
  • Pet rocks make great party prizes. Simply paint garden stones with funny faces, attach googly eyes and some fake fur for hair.
  • Download your child’s favourite songs onto a CD and make a special CD cover commemorating their party.
  • Make miniature puzzle books by downloading activities off the internet, and stapling them into a book. You can design your very own birthday party cover for the guests to colour in.

Bulk Packet Prizes

If you want to buy prizes for every game, the most cost effective way is to buy bulk packets of items, split them up, and combine them with other bits and pieces. Each prize may consist of 4 or 5 tiny prizes, tied together to make one goody bag or prize.

Work out the total amount you want to spend on prizes, and then buy 3 or 4 bags of tiny prizes – keeping within your budget. Mix and match items from each packet, so that not all the goody bags are the same.

The following items can be bought in packets, with 6 – 16 pieces in each bag. You should be able to buy packets where each individual item costs no more than 50c.

  • Erasers
  • Pencils
  • Sticker Sheets
  • Mini Chocolate Bars
  • Mini Chip Packets
  • Lollipops
  • Bracelets
  • Hair Ties
  • Hair Clips
  • Small Cars
  • Plastic Farm Animals
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Packets of Glitter
  • Coloured Beads

Remember, keep prizes in perspective. Parties are all about having fun, and there is more to parties than the size of the goody bag.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

  • 4sionfarm

    Thank you for all the great ideas!

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      No worries! Glad to be able to help!! 

  • SwagalicousMama

    This really helped wiht my sons 10th birthday party. Thank you so much for your tips and tricks.

  • http://www.kapitikidsconnect.co.nz/ Jay – Kapiti Kids Connect

    Great article!
    I don’t do goodie bags, on principle. I always make sure there is a craft activity (like the pet rock mentioned above) and a food treat (eg they get to ice a cookie) and the child gets to take home whatever they’ve made plus an inflated balloon.

    • http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/ Rochelle Gribble

      Thanks Jay – what great ideas! We did a craft activity at my daughter’s birthday this year and it was a real hit!

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