Let's Talk Goody Bags

Let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?

Once upon a time, when I was a new mom, I loved goody bags. I saw my toddler's face light up when she left a party with a little plastic sack filled with bubbles and stickers and a few pieces of candy. "What a fun idea," I thought. And so my birthday enthusiasm spread to the goody bag. I faithfully ordered party themed paraphernalia from Birthday in a Box or Oriental Trading Company every time a birthday came around, and I assembled bags of Dora sunglasses and plastic luau leis and bubbles in a fake ice cream cone to give to each guest with a smile on my face.

Then my children got a little older. They still liked leaving a party with a take-home favor, but they didn't stay fascinated for long. The "wow bubbles" got spilled in the garage, the "I love stickers" got stuck to the legs of the dining room table, the "Mom, look candy" got consumed on the way home from the party and then we all had a tummy ache before dinner. And then, the final straw: one of my children threw a fit while leaving a party that didn't have goody bags, pouting "they aren't going to give me anything?!?"

I am not at liberty to discuss whether that child still lives with us.

I never did goody bags out of a twisted sense of guilt or competition. I'm not wired that way, and for Pete's sake people, if you feel like you have to do goody bags and you resent it, stop doing them! Just stop it! Own your own life and don't let other people control you.

But maybe, like me, you genuinely like putting together goody bags. Maybe it's your spiritual gift. What then?

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I put this question to you. And your replies delighted me, even if I didn't agree with them.

I'd say an overwhelming majority despise goody bags with the intensity of a thousand burning suns.
Hate hate hate hate hate. (Sarah)

^^ Agree (Megan)

I hate them! Most of the time they are cheap junk (which I would never buy for my kids anyway) that I'm afraid of what's in it (made in China?). Then, if it's candy a lot of it my kid can't eat... Finally... the birthday party/cake/games/fun is the "gift" to friends if that is even needed. Since when did a birthday become about all your friends anyway? I don't remember EVER going to a birthday party when I was a kid and bringing something home. (Krista)

Not a fan, tends to either be candy or little toys that we don't need. I don't give them out. (Sarah)

Waste of money, short thrill, goes in the trash as soon as we get home. (Tina)

Crap. I'd rather just hand each kid a couple bucks. Cheery, aren't I? (Angie)

I don't like them. Usually, they're full of candy or cheapy plastic choking hazards that are lost or tossed within the day. I hate the thought of moms spending time and money on unwelcome trinkets. (Gretchen)
A vocal minority love them.
My love language just happens to be gifts. And I really enjoy giving them! I tell my kids that their party is NOT all about them. Otherwise they become a birthdayzilla! I tell my kids how important it is to make your friends feel special and thank them for their kindness. Thank you's and tokens of appreciation are important. And I try to make sure they aren't crappy. Useful things like a head band, a cup, or photograph from the party. (Leanne)

I LOVE goodie bags!! I always have and mine are killer. Of course, I also once threw my daughter a carnival in lieu of a birthday party, so I do have maybe a little tendency to go overboard lol. It was just supposed to be a bounce house... but then there were just so many other fun things to do and let me tell you, 50 kids don't lie. It was the best party ever! (Tia)
You'd think, with the polarity of feelings, we wouldn't be able to find a middle ground. But surprisingly, we did. (Take a lesson, U.S. government.) The common theme? The usefulness of the items in the bag. Seems we're OK, albeit grudgingly, with a goody bag that is both practical and simple.

Things like:
I wish it could be just ONE good, useful something, you know? Like a Scholastic book. Or a little craft kit from Oriental Trading Co. Or a notepad and a cool pencil. (Megan)

I'm a fan of goody bags, but I don't believe in giving out crap! One year we made cds of my daughters favorite songs and that was a big hit. Last year we had a cupcake party and everyone decorated her own apron and took it Home. I like to be as creative as possible! (The Lovely One)

Personally, we do small parties for our kids (2-3 friends) and choose a small book for each kid to take home along with a thank you card from the birthday boy. It's not really any more expensive than goodie bags and I like the message it sends and the longevity. (Jennifer)

I try to do something useful, we did a paint party and the canvas was the take home. We did a splash pad party and sent home mini beach balls. I tend to do erasers and pencils for the bigger kid. With snacks. (Kristen)
And that's where I've landed, at this stage in the game. I'm no longer a dealer in cheap trinkets and piƱata candy. But sending my spy party guests home with a set of gag glasses, a squirt gun and a customized secret agent ID card? Something like that makes me happy. And hopefully, it reminds our guests, even for a little while, of a fun party with their friend.

And that's the whole point, isn't it?

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