Wednesday, June 9, 2010

8. Party Favors

Today's topic is the dreaded Party Gift Bags for kids. I am not talking about the gifts the actual birthday child receives, no: I mean the "door prizes" that we mommies feel obligated to give out to each and every child who attends our party (and maybe even to a random sibling or three). This. Must. Stop.

What are we, sheep? Why are we competing? You know the drill: you run out to Target the day before the party (P-Day) and load up on these stupid paper bags in charming colors and grab a bunch of those plastic junky things (can they even properly be called "toys"?) plus lots of cheap candy................. voila! gift bags complete!

Don't even get me started if there is a theme involved.

This is wrong on so many levels, and I will attempt to address them all.

First of all, whose party is it, anyway? It is the Birthday Kid's! Why must the guests receive a gift? This  sends the wrong message. Out culture is so "Me"-centric and so kid-centric as it is, can't we at least seize the occasion to say to our child, "No-- you do not get a gift today, this is not your special day.  Today is about someone else."  What about the joy in choosing a gift for a special recipient? And surely the little guests will receive a piece of birthday cake, isn't that enough?

Second, this sets up an unrealistic expectation in the young guests that all future parties (Uncle Howard's too?) will include free stuff for them.

Third, does your child really "need" this extra junk that is in these "goody" bags? A whistle (what did I ever do to you, Mom-friend? are you trying to pierce my eardrums?), a plastic monster, some marbles (to get lost/and or to trip on! fun!), a couple stickers, some gum (still scraping THAT off the wall, thanks), and some melty M&M's. I understand the gesture, I truly do. But I think it is really more peer pressure than anything else.

Fourth, all that stuff ends up either cluttering up your child's (already full) room, or it ends up in the garbage and eventually clogging up the landfills. This is the complete opposite of environmentalism and what we "say" we are desperate to teach our children ("Suzie, don't be materialistic! Things don't mean anything!" and "Re-use! Recycle! Don't buy what you don't need!"). Please don't say one thing and then your actions exhibit the other end of the spectrum.

And let me tell you, this is a slippery slope. If you start doling out the goody bags now when your child is, say, two years old ........... how many more years of that are you expected to do the same? or worse, have to top your own goody bags? So, I say STOP THE MADNESS NOW! We must band together, sisters (do you ever see a lone DAD at Target buying that crap?! Uh, no). I personally vow to
  1. not give out goody bags anymore (yes, I was guilty of it too once........... but no longer)
  2. not be judgmental of my fellow moms for eliminating goody bags
  3. embrace the improvement and
  4. even thank these brave moms for helping to blaze the trail
  5. donate the extra savings of $5 per kid, or $50 or so to my favorite charity
Either that or a manicure and pedicure. Now THAT is a grown-up prize worth having.

("Materialism Outranks Virtue")


  1. another reason the Lego store is the BEST PLACE ON EARTH TO HAVE A PARTY. The kids make a Lego as part of the party, and they (obviously) then get to take that home. So now you a) don't ghave to buy "favors", and b) the kids gets the world's best favor. (And have I mentioned that you don't need to clean your house before or after the party?)

  2. *(disclaimer: Stephanie is CEO and founder of Lego Corporation)

  3. I completely agree. Frankly, we've only done one "kid" party and while the children had a blast, it was stressful for the parents (me and the Scouser). Our "gift bag" included a very small clay flower pot, some seeds, and I think some candy. That was it. We have never given gift bags again. I try to find a cute favor that is useful, or at the very least has the potential to be used again.

  4. ok, looks like you are my Reader of The Week again couse.



  5. Or perhaps, "Inane Commenter of the Decade." Sorry. I can stop. I think. Maybe.

  6. no, I love it! at least I know I have ONE fan!



When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)