Inexpensive "Grab bag" goodies for kids (that aren't junk)?
January 17, 2019 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Hi! We need to put together a grab bag of little toys and objects (not food) for some kindergarteners. We'd really like to avoid them being cheap plastic junk that winds up in the trash after ten minutes. Any suggestions for inexpensive items that will actually have staying power with kids?
posted by malhouse to Shopping (28 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
We give out bouncy balls at Halloween and they're a huge hit with that age group. I buy them bulk on Amazon.
posted by shornco at 12:53 PM on January 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

Focus on things with utility that the parents will appreciate as well. I've had great luck with magnifying glasses, pencil sharpeners, jump-ropes, those inexpensive stretchy gloves, cool pencils.
posted by nkknkk at 12:57 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

i always loved fun pencils and erasers when i was a kid.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:59 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

My mother gave out tiny books - especially Annikins (miniature picture books - about 2-3" square).

Consumables are a good idea (playdough, crayons, etc), as they will be used and then used up / broken.
posted by jb at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

These mini tubes of colored pencils are cute, with a sharpener in the lid. You could get mini notebooks and/or erasers too, depending on your budget.
posted by JenMarie at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2019

Silly Putty
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:08 PM on January 17, 2019

Squishys are in.
Things that come blind-bagged (shopkins, lol dolls, kinder eggs) are in.
Slime is, somehow, still in.
posted by phunniemee at 1:21 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Small bottles of bubbles.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:26 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Kids love stickers.
posted by slateyness at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

The hot mover for all three of my kids' were flashlights. Low price coupled with utility. My kids used them for flashlight tag and exploring.
posted by jadepearl at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

As a parent, I hate bouncy balls (lots of potential to break things if used indoors) and slime/silly putty/playdough (only a matter of time before it becomes embedded in some fabric).

My kids always love bubbles, balloons, and stickers.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lego Minifigs and hot wheel cars always go over well.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2019 [6 favorites]

Nthing stickers, really popular with the 5-8 set, IME. I remember loving cool erasers as a kid too! Once I won a pencil whose end was twisted into a star shape, and that was a prized possession for a long time. Sticker books would allow them to put the stickers somewhere, trade, etc.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:36 PM on January 17, 2019

bouncy balls
mini things of play doh
if you just want to give out one thing, maybe a packet of lego mini figs
posted by alathia at 1:39 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pencils, crayons, rulers, small notes or even ... toothbrushes!
posted by zeikka at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2019

As a parent I also hate bouncy balls (they break things, bounce away and get lost) and any kind of slime, putty, or those sticky-stretchy rubber things (usually shaped like hands or whatever)
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:53 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Heh, my moms group just had a discussion about this. The consensus was stickers and temporary tattoos are clear winners with both kids and parents. The tiny bubble jars like this suck, but regular bubbles are okay. Pencils, erasers, markers, anything school supply-ish are good. Mini Play-doh tubs are cheap and a hit with kids, but the jury is divided among parents. Try to avoid really small things that might present choking hazards, since the kids might have younger siblings at home.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Finger lights.
Small notebooks.
Anything scented.
Anything that glows (glow stick, glow necklaces).
The little tablets that color change a bath tub - not the big fizzy bombs, just color change. You may have to break those down into smaller objects.
The balloons with the strings you can punch.
Fidget spinners.
Things from the dollar spot at Target - they are always surprising me with what they have there.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Bubbles, cool things to write or draw with, LOVE the pencil sharpener idea. Little cute pads of paper. Stickers. Mini storybooks if it’s age appropriate. I gave out little dinosaur-shaped art sponges for something my kiddo did, and if how often she uses them is an indication, they have staying power. A friend plundered the children’s book section at Goodwill, wrapped books in wrapping paper, and every kid could grab a mystery book - that was a huge hit with parents. Edited to add that my kid got a mini tape measure somewhere, which has also been a huge hit and is also helping her learn numbers.
posted by centrifugal at 4:04 PM on January 17, 2019

Finger lights (contains coin cell batteries)
Balloons and rubber balls (chokable for toddlers)
Anything with magnets

Hits with my kids:
Notebooks and cool pencils
Safety glasses and bug nets
Flashlights (ones that use AA batteries preferably)
Play doh
Sidewalk chalk - we get this at every party and they love it every time
Wearables - silly glasses, mustaches, hats, gloves, etc
posted by annathea at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

These refraction glasses are a lot of bang for the buck.
posted by rekrap at 4:34 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I recently learned that crayons can’t be recycled via the traditional recycling stream, and there’s a company called Crazy Crayons that collects used crayon “donations”, then melts them down and makes new shapes out of them. I’m not super pumped about the name, but I ordered some for our nature center gift shop and they’re really cute. The larger ones come with a tiny recycled paper notepad. They also say on the back of the packages that the company employs adults with developmental disabilities, so that’s cool.

Here’s a link to their retail site:
posted by itsamermaid at 5:55 PM on January 17, 2019

Agreeing with centrifugal's edit - of all the goody-bag gifts my kids received their favorite was the mini tape measure; one still has it years later and uses it from time to time.

If you and your kid are crafty types you could make your own multicolored crayons with broken crayons of varying colors in the cups of a mini muffin tin, heated in a 250F oven for 15-20 minutes.

And as everyone already mentioned, stickers are always good.
posted by sencha at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2019

temporary tattoos. my kid will do anything for a temporary tattoo.
posted by juliapangolin at 6:46 PM on January 17, 2019

Walk through the dollar store in every section other than the toy section.

Kitchen stuff aisle: Cookie cutters, chopsticks, minute timer...

Sporting goods: Compass, water bottle...

Stationery: Paperclips, highlighters, small notebooks, box of blank note cards, stick on googly eyes...

First aid: Reusable cold compress, forehead thermometer, band-aids...

Infant section: Bath toys

Hardware: Work gloves, level, tape measure, stick on hooks

Small boxes to put things in, children's mugs or dishes, demi-tasse spoons, spray bottle, solar light, basket, masking tape, etc. etc. etc.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:54 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wooden train whistles!

Tiny worry dolls! (Hopefully not too tiny for kindergartners)

Or, repackage seeds to plant: maybe sunflower or sweet pea because the seeds are so big...
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:32 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

The store Five Below has everything from $1 to $5, and they sometimes sell cheap nylon hammocks. My kids love their hammocks.

Too big?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2019

You can get a 5 pack of Slinky Jr on Amazon for less than $20 (American or Canadian).
posted by velocipedestrienne at 2:16 PM on January 18, 2019

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