26/05/2009 05:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Thrifty Tips For Party Bags

Party bags: you either love them or loathe them and I'm afraid I'm in the loathe camp.

They are a modern invention and, if you ask around, the scourge of parties. Parents dislike the extra expense while those whose children receive them inwardly sigh at more plastic rubbish coming into the house.

It is a brave parent who can buck the trend and perhaps, with the economy as it is, it might yet become a casualty. But until that moment it is possible to find a thrifty and green way around the party bag problem. Here are my best tips.Party bags can be ordinary paper bags decorated as part of the activities, fabric bags that would be quick and easy to make or they can be these neat bucket bags made out of old milk cartons.

I would like to say I thought of this idea but unfortunately didn't, instead adapting it from the book Birthday Party with great results.

The bottom half of the plastic milk bottle was cut off and painted with acrylic paints; poster paints would rub off although be warned, acrylics can stain clothes. A hole was punched either side and colourful pipe cleaners threaded through for handles. We then added a luggage label with the child's name on.

I have to admit this was a lot more work than buying ready-made plastic party bags but more fun and lots lovelier to look at. My daughters helped as part of the preparations but it could easily be incorporated into the party as one of the activities.

But what to put in them? Once you've gone to the trouble of making your thrifty and green party bag it would defeat the object to fill it with plastic toys.

Our party bags were given out at the end of a craft party for one of my girls so anything the children made was popped into the bag such as a t-shirt they decorated and a picture some of them had coloured when they didn't feel like joining in with the party games.

We also popped in a special home-made biscuit made for the party bags (to ensure there were some left at the end) and a slice of cake. Other suggestions include:

  • Craft material such as pipe cleaners, stickers and card which a lot of people have lying around.

  • A pot with sunflower seeds sown at the party or, as one friend received, a small plant for each child.

  • Colouring pencils or crayons are always welcome and used.

  • For girls pretty hair slides and bobbles that can be picked up cheaply in sales and for boys a polystyrene plane are big hits.

What do you send your small guests home with or have you bucked the party bag trend?