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Your Brat Makes Me Feel Like a Bad Mom

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The Mediocre Mama: I thought I threw the perfect party -- until your kid screamed at me.

girl leaving party saying i want my damn goodie bag

"I. Want. My. Goodie. Bag!"

This is what your three-year-old screamed out as we wrapped up what I thought was a successful party. Hell, there was the bouncy house, the cake, even arts and crafts. I kept it small so the tykes could enjoy the festivities without being overwhelmed. Was that not enough?

To be honest, I hate goodie bags. A plastic non-biodegradable sack filled with utterly useless cheap toys and candy that kids absolutely don't need after a party filled with pizza, cake and ice cream -- I'll pass. I made the decision to forego the unnecessary crap sack and instead offered kids the chance to bring home a craft they made themselves.

But that wasn't good enough.

Who can blame your kid? Not me. In this day and age, kids are invited to parties every freakin' weekend -- even those of schoolmates they barely know. And at each of these parties, they're handed this mystery junk bag -- it's like a "time to go home, kids" signal, like a last call for little ones. So when our party was wrapping up, she just assumed she'd be leaving with a parting gift.

Kind of makes you wonder -- are kids just spoiled brats now? Or did I drop the goodie bag ball?


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52 comments so far | Post a comment now
Linney5680 October 7, 2008, 8:48 AM

i have and have not given out goody bags, and when i do, they have bubbles and water balloons and i give it to them when they get there so they have something else to do. but even at the parties where i have NOT given them out i have NEVER had one child ask (or in your case, scream) where’s their goody bag. so i don’t think all kids are that way, but there is always one in every crowd :)

Kate October 7, 2008, 9:41 AM

I kind of think it’s necessary to send a goodie bag home with the kids. Yes, you did invite them to the party and you did spend a lot of money on food and entertainment, but they brought a gift for your child. In return, you should offer a small parting gift. It also helps to signify the end of the party and encourages your guests to leave. Just like at a wedding, you always offer favors. Like Linney said, you can offer bubbles and balloons in lieu of candy. And what about the cheap small plastic toys? Kids love ‘em! I don’t think that the goodie bags need to be extravagant, but they are a necessity.

Unfortunately it IS a social norm now. If you don’t give them out, not only will the kids be upset, but the parents will be miffed that they have to deal with an upset kid. Then YOUR kid will have to deal with ridicule for not having favors at his/her party. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that’s how kids operate.

mom22 October 7, 2008, 9:55 AM

Ok here is my 2 cents. I have always done good bags. For my daughters 3 bday it was a scooby theme and I had tons and tons of candy out so I gave everyone a Scooby toothbrush —- which I found on sale. For her 4th Linen and Things was going out of biz and had cute little cupcake lip gloss on clearance so I bought them up and had a tea party with lots of cupcakes so that was the gift. I do think they are silly but could not resist my good sale prices but yeah I usually throw out the candy filled ones my kids get. My SIL gave my son a gummy snake I told hiim it was rubber and he would sick if he put it in his mouth then I threw it out when we got home. He’s only 2 after all.

Katrina October 7, 2008, 10:02 AM

I hate goodie bags and am glad my kids don’t expect them when going to a party. They have only been to two parties where goodie bags were offered and declined one of them.

It is sad that they have become a “social norm” in some parents eyes. Growing up they were never offered at any of the parties I attended and I have never offered them at my childrens parties. I really do not think they are necessary by any means. I believe it has more to do with the mentality of the parent. Kind of like: “Look how much I can spend on my childs party.” without acctually saying it.

Lisa Belanga October 7, 2008, 10:24 AM

It is now a “social norm” to have to spend more money on children’s birthdays?? I am one of the people that DOES give out goodie bags because I want to, not because of any social pressure and I certainly would not raise my kids to EXPECT anything from anyone! Times are tough, it is just plain rude to expect parents to feed the kids lunch, give them cake and God knows what else and then to expect a parting gift?? This is what is wrong with kids today: their parents!!

Stef October 7, 2008, 10:44 AM

I think those goodie bags are stupid, and I also refuse to get them…what a waste!!!

Anonymous October 7, 2008, 11:19 AM

Kids are overindulged and spoiled. That’s why they act like brats.

Renee October 7, 2008, 11:54 AM

I gave goody bags last year and that was the last year my friends! I spent a fortune even though it was small cheap stuff. And I doubt it was even played with! I end up tossing the goody bags.
Whatever happened to celebrating the guest of honor’s entrance into the world?! I’m not celebrating the other childrens’ presence at the party. If you don’t want to come to the child’s goody-bagless party then you probably don’t care enough about that child to deserve to be there anyway.

Mary October 7, 2008, 1:00 PM

I agree with Lisa. It is inappropriate to expect, and especially to demand, a parting gift at a birthday or even a wedding for that matter! Both functions are to go and celebrate a friend’s joy, not to go get free swag, and any person who has the nerve to complain about not receiving a goodie bag should be reminded of that. You shouldn’t have been invited in the first place if that was your reason for attendance. It shouldn’t be considered a social norm. Any parent who lets their child get away with such a sense of entitlement, and such behavior as demanding their goodie bag, is doing their child and our society a MAJOR disservice.

michelle October 7, 2008, 1:15 PM

What I think is really sad is the fact that schools expect you to invite the whole class and nothing but the class, instead of those two or three special friends. I understand not hurting feelings, though. Perhaps there is a way to overcome this problem by mailing invitations to those close friends instead of having to hand out invitations to all. This would drastically reduce a parent’s birthday party’s costs.

Tracy October 7, 2008, 1:45 PM

When I was little, we were given the same kind of cheap toys in a “goody bag” when the party was over. That seemed appropriate back then because parties were so much simpler with activiities like musical chairs and balloon games. Today, serious money can be spent on birthday parties with food, cake, rentals, entertainment, etc. I think when the parents provide snacks, cake and ice cream, and entertain like skating, swimming, air castles or go carts, they have fulfilled their obligation for the birthday gift and should be released from the expectation of sending the child away with a bag full of plastic nonsense. When my kids get a gift bag, it rarely even makes it into the house. They go through it in the car on the way home, find nothing that interests them and I find it all under the seat when I clean out my car.

Tammy October 7, 2008, 2:29 PM

I hate them, we don’t give them and my 7 year old has never griped. Likewise, when she receives them. I throw most of the candy away (the parents who load it up are certainly not paying her dental bills after all) and the cheapo toys break in a matter of a day or it gets stepped on, which, promptly gets it tossed anyhow. Bottom line is, when is enough enough?

Amber October 7, 2008, 3:09 PM

You know, I always HAVE goodie boxes. I just never hand them out. In the chaos of everything I forget all about them.

And they dont have to be bags, just so you know. This year I bought boxes for my twins’ 5th birthday. I still have tons of them from the ones unused and the ones I emptied and folded up from not being handed out.

sherry October 7, 2008, 3:18 PM

I really don’t think kids or parents should be expecting a goody bag. They’re common but that doesn’t mean it’s an automatic given.

As for us, we do actually do them now but we make them ourselves rather than buy the pre-made junky ones. We get little paper sacks at the dollar store, and fill them with a few cute things. This time around we put in some notepads, a set of markers, some stickers, and a lip gloss, all of which were purchased at the dollar store so it didn’t cost much but it wasn’t all crap that broke three seconds later either.

Patti October 7, 2008, 4:08 PM

Oh wow… to think someone would expect a goodie bag, or WORSE, a mom saying it is a “necessity”, just blows my mind! I think a craft is a better option. Why do parents feel they have to have ellaborate parties in the first place? (I say this as I think back to the past two years and the ellaborate cakes I purchased) It all seems like a competition. Like popularity taken to the next level by bringing it home. Like the cheerleader and sports moms (and dads) who can’t just let the kids have a good time.

And for the children who expect the items, talk to their parents. If my daugher ever said that to someone else’s child, disrespecting them like that, she would spend some serious thinking time alone.

chrissie October 7, 2008, 4:20 PM

At my kids earlier birthday parties I would do goody bags but stopped after the kids were around 6. I stopped doing it because I hated the ones that my kids would bring home from other parties. I couldn’t stand getting anymore bouncing balls, tiny plastic pinball games, little notepad that weren’t even big enough to write on. My kids would maybe eat the candy and everything else just sat in the bag until I would throw it away. My kids don’t need anything that comes in them so I don’t see the need to pass them on to anyone else. I always make sure that the kids at my kids parties have a really good time and either make crafts or cute beaded necklaces or bracelets and they get to take them home. Sometimes I take pictures and print them out while their here and send them home with them in the cute picture frames they just made at the party. I feel much better doing that and knowing that they made it themselves and will enjoy it than sending them home with stuff thats probably going to end up in the trash.

elsee October 7, 2008, 5:51 PM

I don’t think that goodie bags are a necessity or a social norm, but at most parties we go to they are given out. I do think it’s kind of harsh to judge a three year old like that. An older child should know better- a three year old needs to learn. My then three year old asked loudly once for a gift bag once at a party where they were not given out. I was SO embarassed and we had a big discussion about it in the car on the way home. The hostess was a good friend and understood- thankfully she didn’t call my son a brat and use me as fodder for a snarky blog post afterwards!

a. October 7, 2008, 6:57 PM

I think it’s ridiculous that kids would EXPECT a goodie bag from a party! I hardly ever got them at parties I went to—which made it such an amazing and AWESOME treat when we did get one!

foxymama October 7, 2008, 7:26 PM

I love goodie bags. They are fun. I nice way to say thanks for coming. What’s the big deal. I even give them out at family Halloween and holiday parties and even adult birthday parties too.

Jodi October 7, 2008, 11:25 PM

I live in a suburb of New York and it is absolutely NOT okay to send children home from a birthday party empty-handed, no matter how expensive the food and entertainment. You can love or hate goodie bags, but as members of a community (and, more important, moms to small children unsophisticated in the ways of “what’s important”) you sometimes have to go along on some things if you want your kids to feel accepted and appreciated by their young guests. I have eight-year-old twins, and have never given out bags of cheap junk/candy. One year I gave caramel apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company. Goodies other years included dollar-store board books, invisible ink puzzles, friendship journals, crafts, sports wrist bands/balls, etc. Creativity can keep costs down, and you can buck the tide by giving out small (inedible) gifts that the other moms will thank you for, not dread. Frankly, some of the comments here have a whiff of sour grapes. So what if your kid brings home a bag of junk every weekend? I toss my children’s out the instant they walk in the door and I have never been asked where the goodie bags went!


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