In Defense of Goody Bags

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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.

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12 thoughts on “In Defense of Goody Bags

  1. mummyofboygirltwins says:

    Well said! We’ve had some pretty mixed bags so far! Sugary things always seem to win though! I’m not clever enough to think of original ideas…I’m afraid I usually confirm too…!

  2. jaws4242 says:

    I am right there with you on this one!! I read a funny post against them lately, and it did make me laugh, but I have a dozen goody bags ready for my daughter’s 4th bday party tomorrow. I was raised on goody bags and thank you notes and I will carry on the tradition!!

  3. Happy Birthday to your daughter! I guess another plus in their favor is the tradition aspect. I always loved getting them as a kid so I want to continue giving them πŸ™‚

  4. piratemonkeymama says:

    Just finished the goody bags for my son’s birthday and I totally agree with you. They’re a fun tradition that I really think kids (and parents) look forward to. Because The Wee Monkey is just turning one we’ve got a pretty mixed group of ages for the kids attending (3 under 1, a 5 year old and a nine year old) so I had a chance to get creative. Plus with such a small number of kids I was able to personalize them. The kids under one are getting board books and a toy with bubbles for mom or dad to blow for them. The older kids are getting colouring books, toys, bubbles and a bit of candy. Nothing wrong with goody bags. Great post!

  5. franciscanmom says:

    My kids are all too big for this stuff now, but we had 2 goody bags that were big hits at parties. When my daughter turned 7 she wanted a tea party. We got those plastic mugs with the paper insert you could color, and the kids each decorated their own mug to take home. At my younger son’s party (he was 8 or 9) I handed out brown lunchbags and chopsticks, dumped a bunch of candy and bubble gum on a tablecloth-covered table, and told the kids they had to use the chopsticks to fill the bags. It was a fun game to end the party and they all had a lot of laughs.

  6. I loved goodie bags for my kids. I used to put in rocks and homemade treats with a cheap whistle or party favor. Rocks may sound odd, but I’m a rockhound and the kids liked to get them. Now I’m the proud mama of two grown-up real-life geologists!

  7. Good points, but I am more in the anti-goody bag camp. I like a take home toy instead. We gave small nerf guns at a nerf party. We got Pokemon cards at a Pokemon party. But the bubbles, stickers and random throwaway toys drive me bonkers. πŸ™‚ But I’m not a hater – to each his own I suppose πŸ™‚

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