I Hate Party Bags.

>> Thursday, May 17, 2007

I wasn’t sure what to title this entry. I had a few ideas:

Party Bags: A Lot of Cheap Crap

Little Bags O’ Death

Party Bags... Why?

Ultimately, I’m happy with what I chose because it’s true and gets right to the point. I hate party bags.

This (upper right) is what my 3 (almost 4) year-old received in a party bag today from a kid in her class. What is it? A little capsule of yummy blue sprinkles? Some random tube-thing? A horse pill? What?

In its compressed state, it’s about the size of a large Motrin. It’s pleasantly-colored and easy to swallow. Mmmm. Turns out it’s this:

Yikes! Like I don’t have ENOUGH to worry about each day! I asked three parents what they thought it was and each of them thought it was candy -- as if medicinal-shaped candies aren’t disturbing enough. But it wasn’t candy. It was an expandable sponge toy. You’re supposed to put them in water -- not your kid’s mouth.

Which begs the question: What would a parent be thinking to put this, without explanation, into a toddler’s goody bag? Yes, I agree -- there was very little thinking involved. Maybe they assumed everyone knows about these cute little sponge toys. But we all know what happens when we assume, right?

I hated party bags long before this afternoon. In my day, when it was your birthday, it was just your birthday. People brought presents for you, and in exchange you treated them to a fun party. Bribery consisted of large slices of birthday cake and spin the tail on the donkey. You opened your presents. The guests left. All was good.

Because next time it would be their turn.

Nowadays, these little guys expect bags of presents in return for attending your party. The expense that goes into invitations, balloons, cake, snacks for the parents, juice boxes, Elmo banners, and plates isn’t enough. I suppose it’s nice if you can afford it, but who can? Now you have to fork over mega bucks to buy presents for your guests or you’re a social freak.

But it’s not entirely about the money. (Although that’s a large part of it.) My concern is also philosophical. Is it too much to ask children these days to give to one another without expecting something in return? Are we afraid to utter the words, “No, sweety, it’s Skippy’s birthday today. Let him open his own presents. Your birthday is next month.”

The fact is, kids are selfish. God love ‘em, they’re just born that way. But do we have to ignore that fact, indeed reward it, by saying, “Oh, don’t cry because it's not your birthday. Here -- have a Barbie Doll.” Meanwhile everyone’s ignoring the birthday boy who has quietly slipped a curious blue pill into his mouth...

(deep breath)

Wow, I used the phrases “in my day”, “nowadays”, and “these days”. Clearly, I don’t get something about the concept of party bags. Please explain it to me. All I know is, if we must continue this ridiculous trend, let’s try not to kill our children in the process. Ok?

Party on.

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