The Ins and Outs of Party Favors

If you decide to give favors, make them small but special

Young women holding birthday gift and embracing
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If you're giving a party that's involved with a life transition, like a shower, an anniversary party, or a wedding reception, or even a more casual gathering like a children's birthday party, the question about whether protocol dictates that you should give party favors comes up regularly.  

While giving a favor to party guests is a sweet custom, it's certainly not ever required. They're merely intended to serve as a thoughtful way to express thanks to your guests for attending your party and a memory to take home of the special event.

Favors Are Often Given

It's understandable that your guests might be looking for something as they leave the party or expect to find a favor at their place at a table if you're serving a meal or cake and ice cream. Party favors have become relatively commonplace, and they have also become more creative and expensive in recent years. It is, however, not necessary to spend a lot of money on party favors regardless of the trend. Many of your guests might have been conditioned to expect something. Whether it's a children's party favor, a bridal shower favor, or a 50th anniversary party favor, many hosts spare no expense. This trend can create unrealistic expectations for some guests and puts additional financial pressure on the host or hostess.

Ideas for Party Favors

A party favor is not supposed to be an even exchange of gifts, such as a gift in return for a birthday gift with the same expenditure. The phrase "it's the thought that counts" applies in this situation. In fact, in more recent years, some hosts have made a charitable donation in the name of all guests in place of an actual item for each guest. Each guest receives a card of notification that a gift was made in their name. 

The next time you host a party, if you'd like to give an actual favor to guests, there are many inexpensive, thoughtful items you can give. Some possibilities are home-baked or store-bought cookies or quick bread, a piece of gourmet chocolate or chocolate lollipop, a small potted herb, a photo of the guest taken at the event, a few high-quality tea bags, or a nice pocket-size hand cream.

These are just a few examples of things that can be used, enjoyed, and then tossed when done. Wrap the party favors attractively in a box or small fabric bag tied with a bow that matches the color theme of the party. Then your guests will feel thanked and treated. But no matter what kind of favor you give to your guests, it doesn't excuse the guest of honor from sending his or her own thank-you notes for any gifts that were given for the celebration. A favor is never meant as a thank-you but rather as a small treat for your guests.