Over It: Birthday Party Goodie Bags

J.R.R. TOLKIENWhile planning my daughter's upcoming 7th birthday (we are having it here, by the way), I was making a rough list of what I would need. Invitations, a cake, some decorations, I keep birthdays pretty simple for the most part. Something I pointedly left off the list this year? Goodie bags. In case you call them something else, let me explain...

Goodie bags are those little sacks of candy and/or plastic toys your child receives on their way out from a birthday party. After they've hopefully been stuffed with some tasty cake and gotten a chance to run around like little maniacs with their friends, parents will also send you home with a bag filled mostly with stuff you do NOT want in your house. Think kazoos, those parachute guys that nine times out of ten do not work (okay I'm not actually sure I know how they actually EVER "work" come to think of it), taffy, noise makers, glow sticks that will be faded enough to warrant complaints by the time you arrive home, choking hazard sized bouncing balls and tiny erasers that are basically useless. You get the gist.

Most of this stuff is in it's glory on the car ride home, the bag is dumped upside down, candy is eaten, toys are taken out which then fall under seats never to be seen again, and most of it will be garbage by the time they go to bed that night. So why do we continue this birthday tradition? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty much done with it at this point.

I was browsing the "goodie bag" aisle at Target the other day and by the time I passed up most of the made in China junk and eliminated the potentially messy miniature bubble containers (THE WORST) there was virtually nothing left that I would want to a) spend money on, or b) give to other parents to throw away via their children. But yet, I actually for a few minutes felt weird about not doing goodie bags. I mean, everyone else does them, and the kids do get a short lived joy out of them, so why am I being such a spoilsport? I mean, what's the harm in a kazoo and a Jolly Rancher anyway? Still, I put my foot down. We have enough "junk" that no one needs a Rubik's Cube keychain that will break before the weekend is through or a plastic princess necklace that will become an unfixable tangle before bedtime.

Instead, I like the idea of having the kids create something to take home, like the painting they'll all be making at my daughter's party. I also like the idea of having kids make friendship bracelets, flower crowns, or little macaroni necklaces for smaller kids. If I was more Pinterestically inclined I would also go the route of something cute and homemade from myself or my child, like the one time I successfully attempted to make capes for everyone coming to my son's birthday party. But, those are also way more expensive and time consuming than throwing together a goodie bag, so what's the middle ground? I guess I am just aiming at making the takeaway, if there even needs to be a takeaway, something that might be an actual one of kind treasure rather than a mass produced, shoddily made plastic product that can't even be recycled.

So tell me, am I being a birthday grinch or should we ditch the goodie bags?