CityMama had this to say about goody bags today. I was going to comment on her post but realized that I have a lot to say about goody bags so I thought I'd do my own post. I also have lots of rants on kids' birthday parties generally but that will have to wait until another day. So many complaints, so little time . . .
First of all, I agree with her dislike of goody bags - or at least the types of goody bags that are given out at parties here in Chicago. In my experience, there are three types of goody bags: 1) just plain junk including any type of sugar and choking-hazard plastic toys; 2) the way-over-the-top party favor that includes gifts more expensive than the gift you got the birthday kid and 3) the just-right party favor that's not junk, not candy and not too extravagant. As you can imagine, I strive for the third type.
We have a rule - we will not give candy in goody bags. We allow our kids to have a reasonable amount of sugar - we don't deny it completely - but moderation is a good thing. Kids generally get more than enough junk food and they ALWAYS get cake at a party. There's no reason to give them more sugar after the party.
At A-Girl's fifth birthday party we gave Hello Kitty notepads, erasers and pencils. We actually spent a lot of time thinking of something that would work for both boys and girls (the boys got a notepad featuring one of HK's male character friends). We made sure we had matching bags and twist tied each one. After I handed a bag to one of A-Girl's classmates, she immediately looked inside and said "Where's the candy!? There's no candy!" My mouth fell open. I looked at the child's mother who was standing.right.there. She said nothing. Nothing! I would have been mortified if my kid did something like that (and as you can tell from yesterday's post, I would have corrected her immediately and had her apologize).
M-Girl was at a party for a classmate who was turning four. All nineteen kids in the class plus other friends, plus lots of parents, were there. The goody bags were actually shoebox-size pirate chests filled with candy, plastic rings, a fairly large action figure toy and a pirate costume (hat, bandana and eye patch). The kids got Crayola umbrellas at one party and 200 piece Crayola crayon/market sets at another (same crazy mom who happens to be a good friend). Recently, they each got really nice books on Rainforest animals that have a puzzle on every page.
I don't judge what other people do. I realize how easy it is to go to the party store, pick up a bunch of plastic do-dads and toss them in plastic bags just so that you have something to give away. I also realize how easy it is to throw some candy in there to appease the savages. I also know the urge to do something different that perhaps gets a bit out of hand and ends up on the pricey end of things. Pretty much everyone gives goody bags or party favors so it would feel chintzy to me not to give something. Plus the kids like brainstorming about what to give and helping to put the bags together.
This topic reminds me that M-Girl's birthday party is a little more than a week away and I have no idea what to do for goody bags. Given how crazy things are these days, that junk aisle at the party store is looking pretty good right now.