Lately I’ve been hearing some grumblings about birthday party goody bags and how it would be great to do without them. These grumblings are more than understandable. With birthday parties these days already expensive enough, the idea of saving money by not buying cheap, breakable, and sugary items that few parents appreciate and most kids forget about thirty minutes after the party, why wouldn’t it be great to forgo this tradition altogether?
But as I carefully assemble party bags full of cheap, plastic and sugary items for my own son’s upcoming birthday, I wonder why I don’t really consider forgoing them myself.
Here are some reasons I thought of why party bags can be a-okay:
1. Sometimes, not always, not even often, but sometimes these gifts are pretty awesome. Like the kites that maybe only work for one afternoon before breaking but that’s one afternoon of entertainment that you didn’t have to pay for. Or the homemade pillow sheets made at a friend’s sleepover party that my daughter with likely treasure forever. Or the mini gumball machine that is just insanely cute. Or that small pad of white paper with the small box of small crayons that got your kids through waiting at a restaurant for the food to arrive.
2. Then of course, are the not so freaking awesome gifts. Like the sugary candies and small bottle of bubbles that never seem to blow many bubbles and the stickers that are put onto paper or clothes or furniture and are soon no longer of any use. So what’s so great about these? Well, for one thing, kids are like regular people in the way they love free stuff. Think about when you were at college and you signed up for a new credit card during orientation days simply because they gave out free pens. You know you did. Kids get a bag of free stuff and aren’t even risking their future credit scores with it. It’s fun to get free stuff, even crap free stuff. It just is.
3. Birthday parties are fun. But also tiring. At the end of them many kids are exhausted and they’re not thinking rationally about how it’d be better for them to leave after an hour and a half of fun to recharge their bodies but instead want to stay and run around the gym just five more times. So you tell them they won’t get their goody bag until they put on their shoes and thank the birthday kid for having them and get out that door into your car. These bags are strategy for leaving people. Necessary evils, sure, but necessary.
4. In a way, giving out goody bags at some parties is even helpful for those parents who have decided enough’s enough and make the decision to not have any for their kid’s party. It’ll be difficult for your child at first as the birthday party may get confusing and seem incomplete. What is happening here they whine as they leave empty handed. But this provides an excellent time to teach them about appreciating the experience of the party for what it is. A chance to celebrate their friend’s birthday and have fun and sometimes that’s enough and that’s okay.