Sunday, October 15, 2006

Avoiding the Goody Bag

Before I go on any further, and you all decide that I am the most ungenerous, mean and grumpy mom on the face of the earth, let me say a few things. I LOVE kids, I love seeing their little faces light up when given a surprise, or an unexpected treat. I love the happy looks on their faces when they are truly enjoying themselves and having a good time being a kid. I would give a kid anything, if he butters me up enough, I am a sucker for puppy-dog eyes and good manners. But the one thing that I detest, when it comes to kids and birthdays, are goody bags.

The goody bag has evolved from a simple "thank you for coming to my birthday" into a sick, twisted competition to see who's mom can dole out the goods. Party supply companies create entire themed lines which provide any type of goody bag "stuff" you can imagine. Kids have learned to expect a goody bag at a birthday party. Need a Batman whistle to go with the car and action figure you've already picked out for each goody bag? They've got that. How about some Batman candy to go along with them, oh yeah, and some Batman confetti too! Woo hoo, now you've got yourself a goody bag! Now, times that by the number of children invited to your your child's party, add the expenses of the cake, decorations (must match goody bags), activities, hired entertainment and facility charge if you choose to have the party at another location and BAM! You've go yourself one heck of a party.

Okay, everyone enjoys a good party, everyone deserves to have a good time and I am all for that. But I wonder, how did we get here? How did we get to this place where our kids ask about the goody bags (mine are no exception as I recall a 3 year-old Wyatt running to the pantry after we had family over to celebrate my husband's birthday and he wanted to give everyone a "goody bag" before they left - so they got fruit snacks, and bags of raisins - he couldn't imagine a party without a schwag bag, even at 3) the minute they arrive? I want my kids to feel priviledged that their friend invited them to share their birthday with them. I want them to thoughtfully choose a gift suited for that friend, to see them open it and see how happy it makes him that they knew exactly what he wanted. I want them to say "thank you for inviting me to your party, I had a great time" without the promise that there is something in it for them if they do. Is this too much to ask?

And so, this year, for Wyatt's 8th birthday party, I avoided the goody bag. Was I trying to make a point? Not really, but I did feel glad that nobody asked me where the goody bags were. I was delighted to see their excited little faces when our host brought out their popcorn and Icees for the movie. It was refreshing to hear them dissect the film in the car on the way home, talking about their favorite scenes and characters. I almost cried when I turned down the KidsBop cd to say "I just wanted to thank all of you boys for being so polite at the movie theater" and they replied with "thank you for bringing us" and "yeah, and thank you Wyatt for being 8 because if it wasn't your birthday, we wouldn't be doing this" and "happy birthday Wyatt".

See, you can have a good party without a goody bag (other than the real piece of filmstrip they each received on our tour of the projection room and other "behind-the-scenes" areas).

Okay boys, pose in front of the movie poster for me!

We're ready, bring on the popcorn!

I'm fine, yup I've got my cupcake and I'm fine!


One, two, three. . . make a wish!


SUEB0B said...

This phenomenon is spreading. As a volunteer, it used to be that you did it for the satisfaction. Now organizations feel obliged to give out goody bags and appreciation lunches...I'm always thinking "Just use the money for your mission instead of thanking me." But I have heard other volunteers saying "Well, they don't treat their volunteers very nicely," so I guess it is important in keeping some people around.

Christina_the_wench said...

I am so with you. Goody bags are so pricey usually and what mom wants their kid coming home with a lot of candy and a whistle? Good lord!

LindaJ said...

No only is it the candy, but the dumb, cheap toys that end up all over the house. How many pairs od rotten teeth do you need?

Thank you for not sending them home with a goody bag, they were wild enough.

Lisa said...

What a cool idea.

The goody bags add up. I've done them because I feel obligated. But I like that you didn't stand for that crap. Good for you!

Mamacita Tina said...

Totally agree with you. I think we need to have faith in little people that they can handle situations where they don't receive something.

Left Coast Sister said...

Great pictures... and I agree, goody bags are silly and usually filled with toys so cheap they break w/in moments of arrival at home. Good for you for putting the kebosh on that part of the party... sounds like some polite gentlemen were invited!!

Kevin Charnas said...


And way to go Carrie! as usual. So, so true. Our consumer society is WAY out of control. But, I LOVE THEIR RESPONSES!!! So refreshing...*big sigh* and gives me hope.

Angry Dad said...

I'm glad you didn't go the goody bag route. Its not just an American phenomenon as it happens here too. So not only are they zinged up on the lollies they eat at the party, they bring the stuff home and zing up there as well!

prrrof said...

Thanks for dropping by our blog--fun to find yours. I think I'll print out your goody bag post and have it on my frig when folks come for the birthday party next month!! It's a waste (and it's one more thing the mom has to do! :)

Jenny said...

Amen sister. A bag full of choking hazards. Just what I don't need for my 2 year old.