10 Alternatives to Conventional Party Favors

10 Alternatives to Conventional Party Favors

Here are 10 creative alternative party favors so you can create memorable, unique, and charming gifts for your guests.

What are party favors, where did they come from, and how did they become a permanent fixture of every event? These are all questions most of us have never asked, yet we know that a guest should never leave any event without a little thank-you gift. As an event planner, it could be helpful to understand the history of party favors so that you can make them work for you.

The History Of Party Favors

Party favors are a tradition that is hundreds of years old. It was started by the first European aristocrats, mainly in France and Italy. They gave what was called a bonbonniere to guests at their gatherings. This was a small box made of crystal, porcelain, or precious stones. In these delicate containers would be sugar cubes or intricate confections – symbols of wealth and royalty.

The OG party favor? Sugar-coated almonds presented to guests at weddings. In the thirteenth century, sugar almonds, or Jordan Almonds, gradually replaced bonbonnieres as sugar became more mainstream. In the wedding ceremonies of ancient Greece, the bitter taste of almonds was seen as a representation of life’s challenges. And adding the sugary coating symbolized the hope that the bride and groom’s new life together would make life’s challenges easier.

Jordan Almonds are still given as wedding favors and are typically offered in odd numbers because they are indivisible to symbolize the perpetual unity of the new couple. In Italian culture, a specific number of 5 Jordan Almonds is given to each guest at their weddings to signify longevity, health, wealth, happiness, and fertility.

Party Favors Around The World

Most countries in the world have their own traditional party favors. Russians, for example, give small pictures, or candles, while the Irish give little bells to their guests. In Spanish culture, detalles are gifted, consisting of cigars for men and other small gifts for women. While in India, guests are commonly given hand-crafted elephants.

Party favors are a feature of almost every type of gathering, from weddings to birthday parties and even showers. These small gifts are given to guests to thank them for attending. And to be a reminder of the occasion in the future. They include a wide range of things from simple edible treats like chocolate and cookies to scented candles, customized glassware, soap, and bath salts. 

Soap party favors
Photo by Kristina Balić

Party Favors Express Gratitude

While they might sound frivolous, party favors are unavoidable because you must express your gratitude to your guests for taking the time to attend your event. Some of them may have traveled from a different city or country, and so you want to send them home with a little something that tells them you appreciate them.

Party favors are not just given randomly. In fact, they are presented with the guidance of particular reasons.

Party Favors Are Related To The Event’s Theme

You can incorporate them into your table settings or create a station just for them. Party favors are part of the décor. And therefore need to consider the color scheme and general aesthetic feel of the event.

Keep Logistics In Mind

Suppose you’re considering giving your guests favors such as glassware. In that case, you want to present them compactly so that they are not damaged in transit. You might consider presenting your glass items in boxes to make it easier for your guests to travel with them.

Add Meaning

It could be handwriting your thank-you notes or simply putting each guest’s name on the gift. A touch of individuality makes your guests feel appreciated.

Giving Gifts To Groups

You could give one gift to each couple or family at the event. This would be plausible with gifts like a bottle of wine or a bag of confectioneries. You could also suggest group photos if you are giving your guests photographic mementos.

Just make sure to factor that into your day-of-event timeline.

Presentation Is Always Important

If you don’t go out of your way to include every guest, some of them will choose to just forego the party favor because it is too much effort to get one. So, ensure that you have your favors spaced out neatly or labeled to make it easy for guests to take one. The best option is to hand out the gifts to each guest, and depending on the number of guests you have, you can do this yourself or add it to your catering staff’s duties.

So, it is clear that there is a lot at stake with party favors. You must find the perfect gift that matches your event and does not feel like a cliché to guests. But how can you do this? Yes, you could splurge and buy your guests expensive champagne bottles or customized keyrings, but at what cost? You may find yourself having to compromise on your décor, flowers, the menu, or even your garments just to make financial room for your party favors. And this would not be ideal. 

Party favor on a place setting
Photo by Nathan Mullet

But, what if you could make your guests feel special without spending a lot of money or even having to be very crafty?

Alternatives to Conventional Party Favours

1. Charity

Instead of giving your guests gifts, you could appeal to their charitable side by suggesting that they contribute to a cause that is close to your heart. It could be going to work at your favorite orphanage or donating blood. You may even ask your guests to match your contribution as their gift to you. You can then give them monogrammed cards showing them the difference that their contribution will make. This favor will cost you nothing, but it will make you and your guests feel great.

2. The Mixtape

This one is trendy these days. You can create customized playlists for your guests and share them via streaming services like Spotify or iTunes. It will cost you nothing but one or two hours of listening to music and compiling playlists. So many of our memories are tied to music, and this is a savvy way to let your family and friends know how important they are to you.

Photo by Mindspace Studio

3. Handwritten Letters

The handwritten word still retains a lot of power and sentimentality. You can use this to create heartfelt favors by writing personal letters to your guests and putting them in mason jars. These letters can be themed, for example, “Open When…” letters or share little inside jokes and memories. Fold them into pretty origami shapes and put them in a jar, and just like that, you have created thoughtful gifts for your guests.

Handwritten letter
Photo by Álvaro Serrano

4. Plants

This one will require you to plan your event very carefully. You can plant seedlings for your guests and present them all with little plants on the day of the occasion. Alternatively, you can give your guests homemade seed bombs or seed packets for them to grow in memory of your event. You can get crafty and eco-friendly by putting the seedlings in recycled paper pots made from waste such as toilet paper rolls or recycled paperboard.

5. Recycled Gifts

Along with the theme of recycling, you can get creative with paper or plastic waste. For example, party favors for a children’s birthday party could be woven table mats or skipping ropes made from old plastic bags.

6. Homemade Food

This is a budget-friendly way to approach party favors if you’re hosting an informal gathering at your home. You could present guests with bags of decorated cookies. Or you could go the healthy route with vegan goodies like raw chocolate or gourmet cookie sandwiches.

7. Sharing Recipes

So, if all your friends have been asking about your secret pasta sauce or what spice you put on your BBQ, why not spoil them with your secret recipe to thank them for attending your event? You could also just give them samples of your secret sauce or spice mix in personalized mason jars.

8. Make Their Own Mementos

If you are having an event like a small garden or tea party, you can have your small group of guests create their own mementos. You could plan activities like having your guests make and decorate their own glassware or small clay creations that they can then take home. If it is a children’s party, you could give them straws, beads, and other cheap accessories to make their own necklaces or bracelets to take home.

Related: 2021 Event Decor Trends Are Downsized & Intimate

9. Instant Photographs

Everyone has a Polaroid photograph in their wallet or cell phone glove these days, and they are all with loved ones at parties. Instant cameras can be pricey, but they are a once-off cost, and if you already have one, then all you need is a refill of film. You can spoil your guests with sentimental photographs that they can take home. An alternative to this could be hiring an artist to do a miniature portrait of each guest.

Photo by Fernanda Méndez

10. Flowers

Guests who appreciate the flower arrangements at events usually end up nipping a bud or two to stick in their hair or press between book pages when they get home. So, why not give them flowers from your arrangement at the end of the event? You could put the flowers in recycled vases so that each guest gets a bunch to brighten up their homes and remember your event. And you will prevent all the fresh flowers used in your event from going to waste.

Related: Floriography And The Meaning Behind Wedding Flowers

The Creativity Of Party Favors

Standards for party favors have risen to new heights, and what constitutes a favor has drastically changed. This means that you can get creative as an event planner and give your guests an experience with your gifts. You want to give guests something thoughtful and functional, reflecting your event’s time, place, and experience. You don’t need to worry too much about perfection or extravagance. Just make sure it’s memorable!

Dive into your creativity with our event planning software that includes client portals and more.