As a parent, you probably already know how much useless junk can come from a party goodie bag -- toys that wind up in the basement, knickknacks that crowd closet space and even T-shirts your kids will never again wear. Give the other parents a break at your child's next party and send their kids home with edible party favors. Tasty munchies are popular with all kids and won't take up room anywhere but the guests' stomachs.
Do you know any kid who'd turn down a sweet treat? Probably not, so focus on decadent little treats as party favors and score major popularity points. Bake a batch of tiny chocolate chip muffins, wrap them in colored cellophane and tie a pretty ribbon around it. Or, involve children in the fun, and let each child make a personalized cupcake to take home. Leave the tops uncovered and supply chocolate, vanilla and strawberry icing, sprinkles, candy pieces, fruit and an icing pen to write each child's name on top. If you want to avoid sugar overload, switch to naturally sweet pastries, such as plain sweetbread topped with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. Don't forget about holiday themes -- kids love colored food, so don't be afraid to dye your pastries red and green for Christmas or pink and red for Valentine's Day.
Here's a sneaky way to get kids to eat more fiber: feed them nuts. Once you've slightly toasted some mixed nuts and coated them in maple syrup, brown sugar and ranch seasoning mix, kids will be happy to munch away. Tie up a little bag for each guest with her name on an attached tag. Or, bake light, crispy cheese straws. Use high-calcium, low-calorie cheese and pair it with five large whole wheat crackers. Arrange them in pretty tissue paper inside a small cardboard box tied with a bow. The kids will love having a present to open too. If you're especially handy in the kitchen, try homemade sweet potato chips. Fry them in olive oil for a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and sweeten them lightly with cinnamon.
Kids love to build things almost as much as they love to tear them apart. Spend the last half hour of your party letting kids build a candy house, truck or person. Supply licorice for limbs, chocolate chips for buttons and large, sour, hard candies for wheels. Use edible sugar glue to hold it together and send the kids home with a ready-to-eat masterpiece. If you want to keep mess and fuss to a minimum, have personalized candy bar wrappers made with each guest's name. Fundraising companies can print the label with the candy bar inside and ship them to you for a hassle-free edible party favor.
Make cookie dough before the kids arrive and give each a clump. Let them mold it into whatever shape they like and add food coloring, sprinkles, chocolate chips, candies or raisins. Bake them and tie each in cellophane for a memorable and delicious party favor. You could also make edible faces. Slice cinnamon raisin (or any sweet) bread and cut the slices into triangles. Let the kids smear the front with peanut butter as a base, then add pretzel pieces for hair, chocolate candies for eyes and sour cherry licorice ropes for lips.