Ideas for return gifts

Thoughtfulness goes a long way

Return gifts are small presents to give to your guests at the end of a party you throw. Although it is not usually expected, receiving a gift from the host of a party is fun and exciting for everyone involved. The key is giving return gifts that are useful and memorable and not just another piece of clutter to throw away when your guest gets home.

Children's goody bags

Children often anticipate a "goody bag" at the end of a birthday party they attend. Here are some simple ideas to incorporate the theme of the party or just make the children feel special when they go home. Of course, you can always add candy to the mix, if you choose to.

• small bag filled with pencils, erasers, stickers. • bubbles • gift card for fish at the local pet store put into a small glass fish bowl with a small packet of fish food • hula hoop or skipping rope • small planting pot, bag of soil, and seeds • take a picture of the birthday boy or girl with each guest as they arrive, using a Polaroid or digital camera. Print them while the kids are playing. Place them in a small inexpensive frame or a frame they made as an art project at the party. • small water colour paints with paint brush • jigsaw puzzle or colouring book • "how to" book • sand pail and shovel

Ideas for the grown ups

Whether it is a theme party or a special occasion like a wedding or anniversary, return gifts can be as original as the party itself. Here are just a few adult ideas:

• mug with a packet of gourmet hot cocoa or recipe for hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. • gift card to local bookstore • local cinema passes • lottery scratch tickets • water bottle with bandanna • CD of music played at the party • mini bamboo plant in a bud vase • small handmade book of favourite recipes from the evening • mini-tea tin • candles • homemade cookies on a plate

Customised gifts

You can customise almost anything. Put the name or date on a gift and it is a perfect memory of the celebration. Some items to customise are:

• chocolates • key chains • T-shirts • water bottle • fortune cookies • DVD/CD holders • tote or gym bag • notepad or note cards

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