Enough With the Out-Of-Control Birthday Party Goodie Bags, Already!

Enough With the Out-Of-Control Birthday Party Goodie Bags, Already!

Mom Jeanine
June 23, 2010


Birthdays, Good Question, hot topic

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My daughter’s birthday is in July and I’m throwing her a relatively small party for family and friends in the local park. That’s all I was planning on doing until her preschool teacher mentioned another child’s parents sent goodies in for her class a few weeks back. Hmm, I didn’t know they did parties in her school.

Since then, the parties have been non-stop. Every week, there’s another party and every week the goodie bag my daughter brings home trumps the last one. At first, it was just a cellophane bag stuffed with a lollipop and a sheet of stickers. Then, it was a personalized paper bag filled with this crunchy fruit snack that’s all the rage and some other games and toys. Yesterday, my daughter brings home a new backpack that has a sippy cup, a coloring book, cookies, candy and a box of crayons in it. When did preschool birthday parties become a competitive sport?

I’ve decided I’ll send in cupcakes for the kids on my daughter’s birthday, but I’m really not into the sugar filled goodie bag–or any goodie bag for that matter. Dad, on the other hand, has been brainstorming 24/7 about what we’re going to do that will impress the other kids and parents. “We can’t look bad,” he says. Of course, what he really means is we can’t look poor…or worse, cheap.

So help me out here: do we buy into the goodie bag craze and send the kids home with pimped out party favors? Or, do we save the friggin’ money for something more important, get cupcakes and call it a day?

Here are some of the outrageous suggestions dad has sent me so far…

Yo Gabba Gabba! Radio Favor Box ($5 each)

Rock Star Microphone Cups ($3 each)

Neon Peace Sunglasses ($3 each)

Check out our guides to first birthday party essentials, birthday party essentials for girls and birthday party essentials for boys.

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  • Izz Marani
    June 23, 2010

  • Usually goodie bags are the way to go cause most schools do not allow food in the classroom due to the allergies. Unfortunately it’s the way it is. My son is 6 and if you send a cheap goodie bag you are judged..sad but what can you do! You should be off the hook if your daughter’s birthday is in July though. GOOD LUCK!

  • AustinMochi
    June 23, 2010

  • Save the money, and forget about what other parents will think. After all, aren’t self-confidence and making the right decision for oneself, not to impress others, qualities that we want our kids to have? Put the money you would’ve spent on favors toward your child’s bday present, or better yet, saving for college.

  • kerrydawn
    June 24, 2010

  • Personally- I think you are reading too much into the situation. The parents probably are not being “competitive” -they are sending in what will make their child happy. I never go the plastic bag/sugar candy route bc I want to be more creative- not to out-do anyone else- but bc it makes me happy! This year my daughter wanted a Hannah Montana baking theme so evey kid got a kit that included a mini-cupcake pan, cupcake liners, measuring spoons, apron, etc. My daughter loved it & it’s a useful gift! There was one mom that was rude and asked if I had to mortgage my house for the gift- but that was her being tacky- not me being competitive. Bottom line- do what is best for you & your child.

  • Shawna B.
    June 24, 2010

  • My daughter just had her 5th birthday party. And she was in charge. I helped her make the guest list. (We didn’t invite Samantha “because she hits.”) She first thought about doing a tea party, but that transformed into a soda party, and I went with it. All kids of different soda, a big, giant pizza, some veggies and water, just to make things even. My husband made a pinata that looked like a 6-pack, and for goodies, we passed out a soda with a straw and a little bonnie-bell soda lip smaker. The cost for these favors was $25.

  • GGirl
    June 24, 2010

  • I think goodie bags are cute and love giving them. But, definitely don’t waste money on stuff that’s going to hit the trash. Sorry dad, I’d definitely be throwing away those glasses or cups. But I do think $3 is a good target budget–but must admit I end up at the $5 mark (for parties, not sent to school).

  • Ann Marie
    June 24, 2010

  • Goodie bags are such a waste of effort (to get the coolest junk) and money. The kids like the stuff in the bag for about 5 minutes and then they become just more junk left laying around the house.

    The best goody I ever sent home from one of my kid’s parties was a tie-dye t-shirt the kids made themselves at the party. It became an acitivity for the kids to do and then they had something to really use when they got home. Because they made them, they really did like them and their parents reported back that they wore them. I did not spend much on the plain white shirts, dye and rubber bands so it was very cost effective. Needless to say, we did this outside.

    If you’re not into tie-dye…then consider another craft of some sort that the kids can use after the party.

  • Shelly Jeffy
    June 24, 2010

  • I like a make-and-take craft. At my daughter’s 6th birthday and my son’s 2nd (they share a party) I had the kids make foam book marks. I cut the bookmarks from sheets of foam and punched a hole in the end and put in ribbon. I got some foam sticker (animals, letters, stars) and gel paint pens. NO GLUE NEEDED. When the kids came in they could start their craft as we waited for everyone to get there. The craft is good for all ages and some parents loved it too.

    Their “gift” was the craft. Just be sure that everyone has their name on their items and then line them up near the door and your guest can claim their gift as they go out the door. Leftovers can be used to make gifts for godparents and grandparents.

  • Becky
    June 24, 2010

  • My oldest is 8 and youngest 4 and the most I have ever done is send in a special treat for them on their birthday. I think the gift bags that are extreme are riduculous! My oldest has recieved a small goodie bag with a little candy on another child’s birthday, I think that is fine. In our area, many parents don’t do anything at all, and that is ok too. One little girl seems to be in my daughter’s room every year has a mom that comes in and goes all out. She makes balloon animals, brings cupcakes, etc. She didn’t this year but has in the past. I think it’s over the top but makes all the kids happy, so whatever…..I won’t be doing that to compete with anybody. If they judge me, so be it…..don’t know, don’t care!

  • Tracy
    July 5, 2010

  • For my son’s 3rd we had a pirate party. I got a huge sheet of remnant gray felt at the fabric store and roll of twine and sewed the “booty bags” (I hate the plastic throw away kind). Then filled them with themed things like mardi gras necklaces, jeweled rings, compass rings, mini telescopes, pirate tattoos, stick on mustaches, and candy wrapped in gold or silver (rolos, kisses, etc) I did the math and the 30 bags I made came out to only a couple bucks each!

  • Kim Kramer
    July 7, 2010

  • I think your party favor ( notice I said favor not goody bag!) should fit the theme of your party. For example, when my oldest son turned one, we had a rock star party, and the favors were color your own rock star fuzzy posters, and make your own rock star sunglasses. This year, our baby turned one and we had a beach party so the favors were sand toys. They cost a dollar each and were already wrapped in a net bag. I made a thanks for coming label and that was it. I felt a little cheap, but everyone at the party thanked me for not doing a bunch of candy and little junkie things. The sand toys were a big hit, and were cheap and easy!