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Good-for-Nothing Bags

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Listen up, ladies: it's time to band together. Remember, together we can change the world -- or at least the annoying and unnecessary tradition of dolling out goody bags at birthday parties.

woman holding goody bag

Yvette Manessis Corporon: It all started innocently enough. This weekend was my son's 6th birthday, so I went ahead and invited his entire kindergarten class and a few assorted friends to the shindig. Mind you, this was not an over-the-top extravaganza -- I've never been a fan of those. Instead I opted for a pizza-fueled sports party at our local church gym. Simple and stress-free; or so I thought ... but that was before the dreaded goody bags ruined everything, including my bank account and mood.

Don't get it? You do the math. Twenty-seven kids equals twenty-seven goody bags -- which equals an hour at the damn party store staring at bags of cheap plastic crap, and me wondering what the heck I'm going to stuff the stupid bags with. Several packages of whistles, tattoos, cheap plastic medals, and assorted candies later, I had the makings of a modest loot bag. Now I say modest because as we all know, our kids sometimes come home with loot bags loaded with toys, games, and candy that you and I both know probably cost the parents a pretty penny. Did I mention that most of this ridiculous paraphernalia comes in packs of 12, so I had to buy 3 packs of everything just to make enough for all the invited kids, not to mention the assorted siblings that always show up and make doe eyes at the parents dolling out the parting gifts. Ka-ching, ka-ching ... it all quickly adds up.

It took me another hour sitting on the floor, stuffing the stupid bags while cursing the person who ever had the bright idea to give kids parting gifts just for showing up at a party, getting sugared up, and singing "Happy Birthday." That's one hour of my life I'll never get back -- an hour I could have spent exercising, organizing my closet, or just staring into the mirror and contemplating my quickly graying hair.

Here's the thing: if the goody bags really made a difference in our kids' lives, I wouldn't be so livid. But we all know the bitter truth -- our kids take the loot bags, rip them open, look inside, and are amused by the contents for about a hot minute. By the time you make it home, your kids have forgotten all about the stuff some parent wasted precious time and money on while your house then becomes littered with assorted whistles, rubber balls, and stickers your kids will never even play with.

So let's solve this problem once and for all. Please, let's make a pact to end this ridiculous and wasteful practice. Forget loot or goody bags -- let's call these bags what they really are: ludicrous good-for-nothing bags.

next: Fired Over a Toy Hamster?
26 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rachel December 20, 2009, 4:04 AM

LOVE it!

Julie December 20, 2009, 4:43 AM

I’m in. hate those stupid things

Kelly December 20, 2009, 7:56 AM

I don’t think there is anything wrong with goody bags, I got them after parties when I was a kid. I think the problem is the crazy need to one-up everyone else.

Lbug December 20, 2009, 8:04 AM

I personally love making loot bags for my child’s birthday party. It’s my way of thanking everyone who was able to come and celebrate my child’s special day. Personally, I believe it’s your fault for inviting all his classmates-so don’t complain! Next time, you either don’t invite as many or just don’t do loot bags. Simple as that.

Anonymous December 20, 2009, 8:15 AM

A stupid tradition that should be stopped. Money that could be spent of something else more important.

Lindy December 20, 2009, 8:24 AM

I went to a few kid’s birthday parties in the 70s and don’t ever remember getting one.

dmill December 20, 2009, 8:31 AM

Instead of wasting a bunch of money on junk that goes in the garbage after a day or clutters up already messy rooms, I pick an item that goes with the theme of the party for them to take home. For my daughter’s rainbow party, I spent $3 on t-shirts for the girls to tie dye. I still see her friends wearing them. My son’s pirate party-goers got bandanas and eye patches to wear at the party and take home. I also have a craft of some kind for them to do so noone feels they are leaving empty-handed. If cost is an issue, I limit the invitees.

lisaw December 20, 2009, 8:48 AM

I’m not a big fan of them either but I do have a couple of tricks that make it much less expensive. In August most stores run back to school sales with crayons for about 20 cents a pack, glue for 8 cents, cute pencils, and so on. I pick up about 30 of each (some for home, some for school, some for goody bags). It usually costs less than $15. Crayons are something most kids can always use, same for cute pencils, glue, etc. Parents usually appreciate these bags, because they know their kids will honestly use the stuff. Finally don’t waste your time at party stores, they are REALLY over priced. If you go the the Oriental Trading Co, website you’ll find large packs (usually 25+ pieces per pack) of little toys and prizes for what you would spend on 1 pack of 5 at the party store. I have a friend who decorated her daughter’s party with pink heart beach balls from Oriental Trading Co. The kids played with the balls throughout the party. At the end of the party, rather than give out goody bags, each kid took home a beach ball. Rather than fill a bag with fifty little junky pieces I usually pick on larger toy. This year I’m giving out little fairy bears from Oriental Trading Co. Each girl gets one, I may pick up some stickers or candy or I may skip it. The bear is large enough to be a real prize and cheap enough ($13 for a dozen, I saw the same bears for sale at a local shop for $5 each) to not send me to the poorhouse.

Angela Orfei December 20, 2009, 9:15 AM

I have a 3yr old and gave out goody bags at his last bday party, I had a really tough time finding little gifts amounting to around $5 for each goody bag, and I had 15 kids attending, so I didn’t want to spend a fortune. Next birthday party I am going to purchase a Discovery Toys Make it fun Party Craft kit, it comes with 10 individually packaged crafts that children can do when they get home. The cost is $42, so only $4.20 per craft!

Annie, NJ December 20, 2009, 9:28 AM

Agreed. A waste of time and money. if you must give something at the end of the party how about a gift certificate for an ice cream cone. But I honestly think a thank you note is plenty of thanks for attending a party. They show you appreciate the gift and effort without the wastefulness of this silly tradition.

Emily December 20, 2009, 12:16 PM

gift bags are one of the dumbest things ever. All they are for is a status symbol. It’s a way to get out of sending a time honored thank you card afterwards. If you feel that you have to be shabby chic enough to give one of these, look for cheaper things than at the party store. Your kid has a birthday EVERY YEAR! so, you have plenty of time to find things cheap. check oriental trading, or the dollar store. But my best advice is not to give them at all, instead, sit down and handwrite a small card to each attending family and mail it after the party. Do stuff at the party that could be taken home. Since this was a sports party, give out balls at the party. If you do a space theme, then give have the kids draw their idea of a rocket, or print pictures of the night sky and label the constellations. save the $$$ and the time. your kid isn’t going to care or remember later really.

GPC December 20, 2009, 1:53 PM

Well, first of all, 27 kids is a little excessive don’t you think? You didn’t have to invite so many kids. Secondly, sports party at a gym? Even if you’re at the church it must have cost you a good amount of money. Maybe trim that expense down as well. I LOVE goodie bags, love putting them together (good excuse to sit and watch a movie while you’re making them up, it’s not rocket science). And lisaw had an AWESOME suggestion of Oriental Trading. Do the research first before starting to complain about it. It didn’t have to be that expensive. At the end of the day, you’re the one who let your kid have so many “friends” over and inflicted the inconvenience on yourself.

Barb December 20, 2009, 5:34 PM

I’m not a fan of the goodie bags, either. For my daughter’s last birthday, I just got a big ball for each child and wrote their name on it (~$2 each from Target). Another year I got tiaras for each girl. The goal is to get a gift they’ll use again, and totally forget the crap that’s just going in the trash.

Melissa December 20, 2009, 5:49 PM

I was actually at a party with my daughter recently and instead of handing out goody bags filled with “goodies” the mother got one of those aqua-doodle type books for each kid… which is perfect of my daughter NOW. I’m thinking of doing the same type of thing at my daughter’s 2nd birthday party. For the same $5-$7 dollars per kid, wouldn’t you rather get a BOOK, instead of a bunch of crap? I know my answer.

PartysAreMyThing December 20, 2009, 6:26 PM

Oriental Trading is a great site. Another really good one (and even better prices) is Rhode Island Novelty. I almost always get my stuff from them the day after I order. I agree with some of the other moms - better to get one bigger cool thing then lots of little pieces of junk.

Trish December 20, 2009, 7:18 PM

Right on Yvette! Oriental Trading Company would be out of business if we stopped buying all this junk. And you are so right about the siblings who show up at the end of the party—the hang dog look in full practiced glory! When my daughter was younger I simply gave each kid a Kelly doll for a Barbie themed party. It was much cheaper & safer than going the plastic toy choking hazard route.

RamyS December 20, 2009, 8:37 PM

hate them too, what I did this year was make a cd of the songs my little lady loves to shake it too and put a pic of her on the cover. It was fun and a good keepsake for our family. They were songs that parents and kids could listen to. I know a few of my friends enjoyed listening to it in the car with their kids!
We had songs like girls just wanna have fun, boom boom pow, abc, ain’t no mountain high enough, single ladies. ha ha Whatever my little lady likes to shake it to.

Anonymous December 20, 2009, 9:13 PM

Only given so the other sissy kids don’t cry because they’re jealous of the birthday kid.

Anonymous December 21, 2009, 8:43 AM

I don’t know ANYONE who does goody bags. Must be SAHM or wealthy family thing. Neither me nor my working mom friends have time/money for goody bags

Goodies December 21, 2009, 11:02 AM

I am a working mom and don’t live fancy or “wealthy” life style and still have time to do goody bags for my child’s birthday parties. They do not need to be fancy or extravagant. Kids are simple to please - even candy in the bag will work fine. Oriental Trading is a great website for all your party needs. Also, do the 99 cent store. Why not?

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