What are these bags my son keeps bringing home from daycare and what do we put in them when it’s our turn?

Since my son started daycare I noticed a strange trend. Every week or so we would be handed a small bag at the end of the day filled with “stuff” and a tag which had a version of “Thank you for celebrating my birthday” on it. I was confused. It was the child’s birthday, but they were giving out gifts to the other children?

Due to the timing of my son’s entry to daycare, we had nearly a full year of receiving party bags (known as traktaties in Dutch) from other children before it was our turn. During that time, we received a variety of:

  • snack cakes
  • bubbles
  • small books
  • small puzzles
  • tiny plastic toys
  • blowers
  • balloons
  • raisin boxes
  • lollipops
  • sweets

Unfortunately, most of it went in the bin as it was age inappropriate, something he couldn’t eat or something that he broke within a few minutes. When it came to be our turn I knew I wanted to do it differently. I didn’t want to spend more than the other parents had, but I really wanted to offer something that the children might get more use out of.

I spent weeks going over the options, but nothing seemed to fit my criteria. Then Esther from the incomparable Babyccino Kids posted the gifts she had given out at her daughter’s daycare. Genius! I was sold.

Better than that, as Esther is based in Amsterdam I recognised the gifts instantly as HEMA products. I hopped online and ordered them, luckily hitting a 15% off day on the website.

I’m pretty crafty, but I knew I didn’t have the time or the patience to sew magazine pages into bags the way Esther did. So I cheated and bought party bags from Zeeman, 12 for less than a euro. Then time got away from me, and so, on the morning of Party Day at daycare, having got home late from an award ceremony the night before, I was found hunched over the dining table in my dressing gown, maniacally stuffing 12 party bags with modeling dough and tools while printing off labels to tie to each bag.

Not my finest Mummy moment.


In each bag the children received:

  • 1 modeling tool
  • 2 cutters
  • 3 sticks of modeling dough in different colours

I haven’t had feedback from the other parents on our traktaties, and I wouldn’t expect to, but I was pretty pleased with them. So if you too have been stuck on what to offer as gifts for your child’s birthday at daycare then maybe this might be an idea for you. For the budget-conscious, each bag came in at around €2 (a little over without the 15% discount, a little under with it). 

photo credit: hbfotograflc.com via Flickr cc 

photo credit: Emmy McCarthy

Emmy Coffey McCarthy

Emmy McCarthy was the Director of Stichting Amsterdam Mamas. She is a Mama, Entrepreneur and Connector on a never-ending quest for balance in her life.