Lifestyle: Reviving Goody Bags

By Molly Freeman

Photo courtesy of Jarrett Campbell.

There are certain traditions that seem synonymous with children’s birthday parties: bounce houses, pinatas, goody bags, clowns, etc. I’ve witnessed these traditions being adapted for adult parties; I’ve even attended a get together that featured a bounce house (and made the mistake of having a drink or two before entering).

However, goody bags seem to fall by the wayside for grownups.

Of course, certain life events warrant party favors like weddings or baby showers. But these types of favor bags seem to be more for the aesthetic than fun. They certainly don’t evoke the same joy as finding your favorite candy or an entertaining–but cheap–trinket in a goody bag from a friend’s birthday party.

Goody bags also differ from swag bags, which are bags of merchandise from an event, like a convention or book launch party. These types of party favors are personalized more to the event than the people receiving them. Often, swag bags are intended as advertising ploys since they are stocked with promotional items from sponsors.

Photo by Molly Freeman.

What are some ways, then, that we can adapt the true nature of goody bags for adulthood? One way is to mesh items of practicality with ones for mature fun. For instance, a friend of mine put together goody bags for a recent beach trip. She included cheap necessities like flip flops, sunscreen, and sunglasses along with some fun extras like mini bottles of vodka and various plastic shot glasses (mine says YOLO).

Also, don’t worry too much about splurging to cater to sophisticated adult tastes. Keep it simple. Five Below dollar stores, Target’s Dollar Spot, and various online retailers are some places to go to find cheap items to fill a goody bag. Lots of these stores sell an assortment of candy, useful tools, themed trinkets, and other novelty items.

As for how to pick goody bag fillers, stick to a theme and keep your friends/party goers in mind. If you’re planning a road trip, perhaps include cheap earbuds and travel-sized bottles of dry shampoo. Or, if you’re organizing a dinner party, you could pack some desserts and recipes from the meal.

Certainly, goody bags aren’t for every occasion, or even every person. But they are an enjoyable reminder of childhood and potentially suitable for a variety of occasions even into adulthood.

Plus, if done right, goody bags take time, effort, and care to create, which any grateful friend will appreciate–especially when receiving small presents for a simple weekend trip or intimate get together.