Are Goodie Bags Really Required?

goodie bags, party bags
Say good-bye to the goodie bag

Goodie bags have become a standard line item on to-do lists for kid birthday parties — right after theme and cake. A blogger over at’s Moneywatch asks whether she’d be making a huge mistake if she didn’t offer party bags at her soon-to-be 4-year-old’s birthday.

No, no, quite the opposite. She’d be making a huge mistake if she did offer them. They’re extra money, as she points out. They’re not all that appreciated by the kids and only barely tolerated by adults. Bad for the environment. Bad for notions of entitlement! All valid reasons to send guests home with nothing more than a sugar high and juice stained clothes.

But here’s the biggest reason Sarah Lorge Butler shouldn’t hand out bags of stickers and candy:

She doesn’t want to.

Butler can’t stand goodie bags. She remembers a time when they didn’t exist. She doesn’t think they’re fun to put together. She doesn’t like it when her kids bring them home. And yet. And yet she asks her sister-in-law, whom she describes as a domestic goddess, whether she’d be committing a faux pas by not giving out goodie bags. The Goddess doesn’t answer directly; instead sending her links to art kits on sale at Michael’s.

My take? Don’t. Go. To Michael’s, Sarah. Don’t go! YOU are throwing the party. You get to decide!

I think Butler’s party bag question is a bigger issue than just hostessing. The bags are something of a metaphor for how grown people parent these days. I think a lot of parents operate under the idea that there are rules to how we’re supposed to raise our children and that we need permission to try something else.

It’s not just goody bags, it’s everything. The toys, the clothes, dinner (what time, which vegetables, how much milk/water/dessert?). Which schools should we be going to? Which classes? How many? When? So many of us seem to want permission to go in a different direction than our herd.

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to parenting, I love being part of  a herd (and this herd changes depending on topic and locale, no doubt). The herd has done a lot of the legwork — figuring out who the good doctors are, for example, or offering up a strategies for things I don’t feel terribly invested in, like potty training.

But I’ve got my own ideas, too, my own values and opinions. And, like Sarah, I don’t value goodie bags. It is my opinion that goodie bags are a waste of money, time and the earth’s resources. I don’t do goodie bags and couldn’t care less what a domestic goddess thinks about that. I am stunned when others ask me something like “how did you get away with no goodie bags.”

Get away with it? Turns out, I’m in charge and paid for the party. So, I suppose, that’s how I get away with it. Mom up, Sarah. Go with your gut and skip the bags.

You have my permission. (Though you don’t need it!)

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Article Posted 6 years Ago

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