Recently my son turned 6. We hosted a small sleep over with just a few friends enjoying pizza, cake and a movie - and lots of laughter and fun. In the morning, my husband asked me where the party bags were for the kids going home. I told him there weren’t any. He looked at me as if I were a squasher of children’s hopes and dreams.
That might be true, and at risk of being that one crazy parent who spoils everyone’s fun by serving water instead of soft drink and ensuring the kids get off to sleep at a halfway decent time, I have decided that I don’t do party bags anymore. In-fact I will go so far as to say that party bags suck. Here is why:
They are typically filled with plastic and sugar: “Thanks for coming, here is some plastic and sugar!” Right?
They often have noisy toys which drive parents nuts: We have all been there. I have had parents apologise to me on the way out of the door because they know the pain that is about to be inflicted on everyone in the car on the way home. Whistles anyone?
They hugely add to clutter: After some fleeting enjoyment by the kids on the drive home, the in-edible contents end up under beds, in plastic tubs, at the bottom of bags…. and are quickly forgotten, or broken, or both. Parents then resort to sneaking the stuff out ‘smuggler style’ while the kids aren’t looking.
The extra hit of sugar: Look, I am totally cool with ‘sometimes foods’. Parties are for junk food and sugar! Kids go nuts! So why then are we pouring even more junk into kids on the way out of a party? They already ate up a storm and are tired, loopy and over-excited!
They’re bad for the environment: Buying the types of plastic toys we typically find in party bags only encourages the manufactures to make more! But plastic doesn’t break down, is often un-recyclable (or is recyclable but is not recycled) and comes from a finite resource we are fast running out of. Yep, it’s an inconvenient downer, but it’s true.
They teach kids to expect stuff for no good reason: I really hope that our generation is teaching kids that presents are saved for birthdays and festive seasons; and when they work hard to earn something. Not just because they were invited to a birthday party! Otherwise all the true joy in gift giving and receiving is lost.
They’re really expensive to put together: Kid’s parties are notoriously expensive to put together, and party bags are a big contributor. The more kids, the bigger the expense.
So when I sit back and ask myself “Who really benefits from party bags” the only answer I can come up with is Big Business. They are relying on the status quo to make parents feel pressured and obligated to give out party bags - whilst exploiting the earth - and are walking away with all the profits and benefits. And they’re counting on us not to question it, for fear of seeming like bad hosts. That seems really nuts to me!
How about instead we all decided to talk about it and just not give out party bags anymore? The way I see it, it’s a WIN/WIN/WIN: the host parents save a small fortune, the guest parents avoid the noise and their child’s continued sugar consumption, and the earth wins because that is a whole lot less plastic being produced and tossed!
What do you say? Please tell me I'm not alone!