Roundtable Discussion – Goodie Bags

20 May

I’m heading to yet another kid’s birthday party this weekend, where once again I’ll come face to face with something I despise.  Screaming kids?  No.  An overload of sugar?  Nah.  Child saliva sprayed all over the birthday cake?  Nope, though that is totally gross.

I can’t stand goodie bags.

Who came up with the concept of these plastic bags full of garbage?  They’re either crammed full of teeny toys that will just end up in the trash, or candy I don’t really want my kids to eat right after inhaling cake and ice cream.  And the thing I hate most is how goodie bags are completely expected by everyone.  I’ve seen kids ask for them the second they arrive at a party!  Isn’t the whole point that it’s a special day for the birthday person, and not an opportunity for guests to score stuff??

But even with my dislike for the whole concept, I find myself giving in and doing them for my own kids’ birthday parties.  I have tried to get a little creative, though.  A couple times I took a tip from a friend, who came up with the idea of buying a bunch of toys and letting the kids each pick one as their party favor.  I did that when my son turned 3 – I bought a basket full of toy dinosaurs (from the dollar store), and each party guest got to choose one as they left.  The kids loved it.  Another year I decided to have a “make-your-own-goodie-bag” station.  I provided a huge bucket full of small toys, with bags that they could fill.  Though it was still a bucket full of crap, everyone thought it was fun – maybe because it provided another activity at the party.

What’s your take on goodie bags?  Do you think they should they be phased out?  Should we all take a stand and say NO MORE?!  Or do we just go with the flow and accept that they are just as much a part of planning a child’s birthday party as buying the cake?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!


5 Responses to “Roundtable Discussion – Goodie Bags”

  1. Pam May 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I HATE THEM!!! I have found myself taking them and throwing them away before my kids realize they are missing! One time we cleaned out the toy box and all those STUPID little toys were at the bottom – then of course the kids want them, so I find my self striking deals to allow them to keep X number of crappy toys!

    We have done some different stuff too – one year we gave at books from the dollar store. This year I think we will make a treat to take home: cookies, granola bar, or something lie that!

    I say we ALL stop doing them! Not only do they have JUNK in them but they get expensive to make!

  2. Leslie May 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I hate them too. I hate dealing with receiving them, and I hate spending all that $$ buying JUNK.

    This year, I’m giving away Hello Kitty coloring books at my daughter’s party with a sucker attached. I found the books in the dollar section at Michael’s. At least it’s something they might actually use. ??

    I think my husband hates them even more than I do. Just glad we’re not the only ones!

  3. Lisa May 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I am sooo with you chicks on the goodie bag issue. WHEN did it become mandatory for partygoers to receive gifts–thereby negating a lot of the impact of giving gifts. As if the party (and all the fun associated with it!) isn’t enough of a treat. Grrr.

    One of our answers to the goodie bag was to give kids aprons with their names on them for our son’s 3rd birthday party. This dovetailed with the activity–decorating cookies. I felt good about it because the kids (and their parents) could actually USE the aprons well after the expiration date of the typical goodie-bag plastic slinky!

    Since then, I’ve started collecting all of our son’s goodie bag treats. I gave them out last year for Halloween when we ran out of candy. (We had 150+ trick-or-treaters! Big even for our neighborhood.) I’m doing the same this year but already the bin I toss the junk into is overflowing.

    Maybe we can start an anti-goodie bag movement! Seriously!!

  4. Tanya May 23, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    I’d be happy to get a thank you note in the mail instead of a goody bag. I’d be happy to sit and write thank you notes and mail them instead of putting those bags together. I get that they’re supposed to be a thank you gift for your guests… similar to wedding favors. But, dollar store stationary and the price of a stamp is more cost effective and seems like the time we put into thinking about, shopping for, and filling the bags is less than writing out a few quick notes. They don’t have to even be super personal:

    “Thanks for coming to our party! It was great to see you and your (mom, dad, siblings, etc…). (Child’s name) really loves the new _____!!!”

    And a child old enough could do these him/her self!!!

  5. Jen May 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Lisa, I LOVE the idea of saving that junk to hand out at Halloween! What a great way to recycle those little toys!

    Tanya, you raised such an important issue. It seems like people spend a huge amount of time on the goody/goodie bags, and thank-you notes are often neglected. Children can learn a lot from doing thank-you notes, and even the youngest ones can – and should – participate in doing them for gifts they’ve received.

    And here’s another question on this same subject: Should we eliminate the entire idea that party-goers MUST be given gifts at all? Or is it just the junk-filled bags that must go? Personally, I’d like to see a kid’s party where the attendees are NOT expecting to score prizes for themselves!

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