I would like to know who started the ridiculous phenomenon known as birthday party gift bags. Who decided it was a good idea to reward guests with trinkets, candy or other gifts for coming to a birthday party that has already been established as a fun-filled, cake and ice cream loaded whoop-de-doo affair? Birthday parties by definition are fun. Birthday parties by definition have birthday cake. Why, oh why, is it necessary to give candy or other gifts to the guests who have come to celebrate with the birthday boy or girl? Why?
I'm sure the parent who started this ridiculousness probably celebrated 1/2 birthdays or went so far as to give each kid a birthday gift on his sibling's birthday so no one felt left out. The idea that anyone other than the birthday boy or girl deserves a gift is mind-boggling to me.
What started as an, I'm assuming, innocent gesture of reciprocity has turned into an ugly, my-take-home-gift-bag-had-more-crap-than-your-take-home-gift-bag conundrum. These gift bags have gone from one or two trinkets related to the theme of the party to an over-the-top bag full of junk.
Not just any junk, but junk from China. The last two gift bags I went through included candy that was made in China. MADE IN CHINA! I know people really want to get the most bang for their buck, but c'mon. Is it really worth the few dollars in savings from Oriental Trading to compromise your kid's and his friend's health by giving him candy made in a country whose food safety standards are sub-par at best. Seriously, if it's made in China it's not going into my kid's mouth. That includes candy, straws, Dracula teeth, etc.
The trinkets in the gift bags break after using one or two times. The reason the trinkets are cheap is because they aren't made very well. So, what's the point of giving a gift bag full of trinkets if the trinkets don't even last? Are we so accustomed now to giving these ridiculous gift bags now that we simply fill it with inexpensive junk just to fill it? Is the sheep mentality at work here against our better judgement?
Christopher had a bowling birthday party last year. Each child received one or two bowling-related items like a ring or some stickers (notice I said one or two), but I spent more time on the pictures I took of Christopher with each of his guests. I used simple photo-editing software to frame each picture with a message like "Fun Times" or "Best Friends Forever" and sent the picture along with Christopher's thank-you notes. I don't think anyone missed the candy or cheap junk.
If you're filling a gift bag just to fill it please understand that I'm not alone in my irritation and I, like many other parents, simply throw the stuff away. Again, just to be clear, if it's MADE IN CHINA, we do not consume it. So, even though you saved a few bucks at Oriental Trading, you still spent money on items that ended up in my trash can.
Plenty of options are available if you really do feel the need to give a gift bag. Google "alternatives to birthday goodie bags" and many terrific suggestions will appear.
Non-candy or Chinese-junk related ideas. How refreshing!