hands holding 2 light blue gift bags with white tissue paper and text overlay.

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Gift bags have become a staple in gift-giving for many occasions. They provide an attractive and convenient way to present gifts, and they can be reused or repurposed after the gift has been given. But what are gift bags exactly? We’ll answer all your questions about gift bags and their content.

row of colorful paper gift bags

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What are gift bags used for?

Gift bags are used to hold a gift that is being given to someone. They serve as an attractive and convenient alternative to gift wrapping paper, as they are easier to handle and can be reused or repurposed. Gift bags can come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, such as paper, fabric, or plastic, and they can be decorated with various designs and patterns to suit the occasion or personal preferences. They can be used in corporate settings, where they are used to present gifts or promotional items to clients or employees. Additionally, gift bags are a popular choice for events such as baby showers, bridal showers, and other celebrations, where guests are given small gifts or party favors to take home.

Other names for gift bags are:

  • Goodie bag
  • Goody bag
  • Party bag
  • Favor bag or just party favor

Gift Bag Etiquette

Gift bags are a popular way to present gifts for many occasions. However, in some communities there are certain etiquette rules that should be followed when giving gift bags. Knowing these guidelines can help you make the best choices for your situation.

Gift Bag Do’s

  • Consider the recipient.
    • What are their likes and dislikes
    • What design or color reflects their personality or interests
  • Always include a card. Not only is it a a thoughtful touch, but also helps identify who the gift is for and from. This is particularly important at a large party or if the gift won’t be opened right when you hand it to the recipient.
  • Use tissue paper. Tissue paper adds a nice finishing touch to a gift bag. It add to the surprise of your gift if it is hidden under a layer of tissue paper. It also makes the bag look more festive.
    • Choose a color that complements the bag and the occasion.
    • Make sure some of the tissue sticks up past the top of the bag for a more elegant look.
  • Match the bag to the occasion. For example, use a festive bag for a birthday gift or a romantic bag for a Valentine’s Day gift.
    • You can decorate a brown paper bag or simple brown kraft paper bag to create your own designs.
    • You can use glitter, silk floral embellishments, stickers, ribbon or even draw or paint designs. 
  • Be creative in filling a goodie bag style gift. Get creative with the contents of the gift bag. Add small items that reflect the recipient’s interests or that they will find useful. You can choose a theme to make it easier to find appropriate small items.
2 hands holding light blue gift bags with white tissue paper.

Gift Bag Don’ts

  • Don’t reuse a gift bag in some circles. Know whether the person or the setting will be okay with a repurposed bag.
    • Some people think it’s not proper etiquette to reuse a gift bag – it can come across as thoughtless and cheap.
    • Other people value gift bags for the exact reason that they can be reused again and again.
  • Don’t overfill the gift bag. Don’t overstuff the gift bag with too many items. This can make the bag look messy and unattractive. And the last thing you want is the bag breaking and damaging the gift.
  • Make the gift contents appropriate for the bag.
    • Consider that using an overly expensive gift bag for a gift that is not very valuable can come across as showy and inappropriate.
    • Also, using a rumpled, dirty gift bag can be perceived as not caring.

Gift Bag Fillers

Gift bags are a popular choice for presenting gifts for a variety of occasions, including birthdays, weddings, and holidays. Gift bag fillers are the small items that make a gift bag complete, adding an extra touch of thoughtfulness and personality to the gifting experience. From practical items to decorative accents, gift bag fillers can range from the simple to the luxurious, making them a versatile option for any occasion. Finding the right gift bag fillers can be the key to elevating a gift from ordinary to extraordinary.


  • Lip balm or lip gloss
  • Scented candles
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mini notebooks or journals
  • Keychains
  • Socks, including novelty socks or socks with fun designs
  • Chocolates or candy
  • Mini puzzle or brain teasers
  • Tea bags or coffee pods
  • Gift card
  • Bouncy ball, yoyo or small toys
  • Hand cream or lotion
  • Travel-sized skincare products
  • Bath bombs or shower fizzies
  • Personalized notepads or sticky notes
  • Hair ties or scrunchies
  • Pocket-sized games or card decks
  • Enamel pins or badges
  • Phone accessories such as pop sockets or phone rings
  • Stickers or temporary tattoos


  • Personalized keychain or luggage tag
  • Miniature indoor plants in cute pots
  • Customized or monogrammed pouches
  • Handmade soap bars or bath salts
  • Reusable stainless steel straws or utensil sets
  • Art prints or postcards from local artists
  • Miniature figurines or collectibles
  • Aromatherapy diffuser and essential oil set
  • Specialty gourmet foods or snacks
  • Miniature or travel-sized board games
  • A custom-made piece of jewelry or accessory
  • Customized stationery or notepads
  • Personalized photo books or albums
  • Handwritten recipe cards with a favorite family recipe
  • Miniature cocktail kits with recipe cards
  • Specialty loose-leaf tea or coffee blends
  • Personalized water bottles or tumblers
  • Specialty spice blends or infused oils
  • A customized or monogrammed passport holder

What are usually in a goodie bag?

They usually contain small treats or gifts given out as party favors or as a thank-you gesture to guests at an event. The contents can vary depending on the occasion and the age group of the attendees.

For children’s parties, goodie bags may contain small toys, stickers, candy, or other age-appropriate items.

For adult events, goodie bags may contain items such as personalized gifts, gourmet treats, or small trinkets related to the theme of the event.

Goodie bags can also contain items related to the purpose of the event or the brand or sponsor associated with it. For example, at a business conference, a goodie bag may contain promotional items such as pens, notepads, or USB drives.

Generally, the contents of a goodie bag are intended to be a fun and memorable reminder of the event for the guests.

What do you call a goodie bag for adults?

Many people use goodie bag and gift bag interchangeably but they also have very different meanings for other people. Common gift bag names and their meaning:

  • Gift bag – A bag used to hold a gift. It is typically made of paper, fabric, or plastic and can come in various shapes and sizes. They are a more convenient and attractive alternative to gift wrapping paper, as they are easier to handle and can be reused or repurposed. They are used for large gifts, small gifts, important occasions and also for small favors or trinkets.  
  • Goodie or goody bag – A  bag or container filled with small gifts or treats, often given out as a party favor or as a thank-you gesture to guests attending an event. Goody bags are typically given to children but can also be given out at adult events. They usually contain a variety of items such as candy, small toys, stickers, or other trinkets and are meant to be a fun and memorable reminder of the event..
  • Swag bag – A swag bag is usually for adults.
    • It’s a type of gift bag or gift basket that is often given out at events, such as award shows, conferences, and festivals. Swag bags usually contain promotional items, such as branded merchandise or products from sponsors, and can range from small items such as pens and keychains to larger items such as electronic gadgets and luxury items. Swag bags are often seen as a way for event organizers to thank attendees for their participation and to promote the sponsors or brands associated with the event. They can be highly coveted by attendees, and the contents of swag bags are often shared on social media or discussed in the press.
    • Swag bags can also be used to connotate a more glamorous gift bag, implying that the contents are more high-end, stylish and desireable.
  • Party favor or favor – A party favor is a small gift or souvenir given to guests as a token of appreciation for attending a party or event. They are typically handed out at the end of an event or placed on the table for guests to take home. They can be given out at a variety of events, such as weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and other celebrations. Party favors can range from small items such as candy, keychains, or trinkets to more elaborate items such as personalized gifts or customized items. The goal of a party favor is to provide guests with a small memento of the event, and to thank them for their presence and participation in the celebration.
  • Little gift – A little gift is a small present given to someone as a gesture of appreciation or affection. It is usually an inexpensive or modest item that is given without any particular occasion or expectation of reciprocation. Little gifts can come in many forms, such as a small trinket, a favorite treat, a handwritten note, or a small piece of jewelry. The purpose is to show someone that you care about them and that you are thinking of them, even if it is just a small token of your affection. Little gifts can be given to family members, friends, colleagues, or anyone else who you feel deserves a small gesture of appreciation or kindness.

Tips for Adding a Personal Touch

Set a your budget. It’s easy to get excited and carried away in purchasing gifts. Set a reasonable budget and stick to it.

Think about the recipient’s personality, interests, and preferences. This will guide you in choosing items.

Decide on a theme for the gift bag, such as a favorite color, a favorite hobby, or a particular occasion. This will help you choose items that are cohesive and meaningful.

Add a personal touch by including a handwritten note or a small gift that is personalized to the recipient.

Think about how the gift bag will look when it is presented. Choose a bag that fits the occasion and theme. Add decorative touches such as ribbon or tissue paper.

Be creative and think outside the box. Include unique or unexpected items in the gift bag. This will make the gift even more memorable and special.

Useful gift bags are just a special as expensive, swag bags. Consider including items that are practical and useful, such as a reusable water bottle or a set of travel-sized toiletries. This will ensure that the gift is not only personalized but also practical and functional.

Learn more about gift bags:

smiling woman holding yellow gift bag with white tissue paper.
woman holding pink gift bag with white tissue paper.

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