What’s the Deal with Goody Bags?

Photo: The boys were given a few Tinker Crates for Christmas. We built one together two weeks ago during the half-day. This was the vacuum chamber kit, and we made marshmallows expand and shrink and that was a lot of fun. I was very skeptical at first, but I have to say that we had a pretty good time putting the kit together and seeing the results! Looking forward to opening the next one tomorrow!


Title note: I hope you read that title with a Jerry Seinfeld-like voice in your head.


Ursa Major turns 8 next Tuesday and his big mad scientist birthday party is next Saturday. To save a little money (hahaha, not really) we are having the party at church, because I don’t have to pay to rent out the space, which is awesome. I just have to pay for the entertainment, which is cash money omg. I’m getting a lot for it, though: this “mad scientist” guy is going to do a bunch of STEM-like sciencey fun stuff with the kids. They are gonna shoot stuff and build stuff and fire lasers out of stuff… It will be worth the investment.

I just happened to be with the parish administrator last week (who is also a dear friend) and we got to talking about the party. I was complaining that my in-laws will be here (augh, why) and, because of the boiler, I haven’t had a moment to really think about key details. Ursa Major has asked for hot dogs instead of pizza and he has asked for red velvet cake. We spoke at length about cooking hot dogs in the crock pot (I’m intrigued and will write about this next week), and then she asks me, “and what are you doing for goody bags?”

I put my hands on my hips, all sorts of huffy and incredulous. “I don’t believe in goody bags! These here suburban children don’t need yet another thing. Who needs bags full of candy and cheap plastic things for no apparent reason!?”

She guffawed, shocked and amused by my controversial position. “No way! You’re not doing goody bags??”

No way! I hate those things! I don’t believe in them! Ain’t nobody got time or money for goody bags!” I said.

And this is a true statement: ain’t nobody got time (goody bags take time) or money (this birthday party is already costing me money!) for goody bags. Why can’t fun, cake and a hot dog on a Saturday afternoon be enough? Why do spoiled suburban kids need more?

We laughed and debated for a while and then I went away. Flash forward to last night, where this had to come up again on the Facebooks. Facebook is the devil, I swear and I swear.

So I asked my “friends”:  Goody bags are dumb, amiright or amiright!?

The responses are still coming in.

I will admit, a bit of this is tongue-in-cheek, but my gut reaction is the same.  Every time my boys have come home from a birthday party, they come back with a goody bag filled with random crap that either gets all over the place or that they fight over. Between the bag full of tootsie rolls and gum (omg why) and horrible tubes of slime (“WARNING: Don’t let it touch anything because this will stain whatever it touches!”) and horrible glitter things (worse was GLITTER SLIME omg a pox on the inventor!) not to mention dart-firing guns, masks and such… I’m just saying, there has never been anything in a goody bag where I’ve been like, “I appreciate this and I feel appreciated for receiving this.” Nothing from a goody bag has ever lasted more than a day. It all ends up in the trash. Ain’t that such a big waste? Waste for you, waste for me….?

Put in 2019 parlance, I’m thinking: The Goody Bag does not give joy. Perhaps it should leave the house.

A few of my friends one Facebook said that the goody bag is “expected.” Your kid goes to a party, they party with everyone, they have the cake and the ice cream, and at the end there is an expectation of a gift. Is their expectation my problem? Also, is the kid expecting it or the parents? Why is the entertainment, food and confection not enough? Why must you also leave with a thing?

Perhaps I would be smarter to ask when kids age out of goody bags? Can it be age 8? Can we all be old enough that we can go to a party, be entertained by that party, and be satisfied without having to have a tangible thing for it?

I’m probably coming off as extraordinarily grumpy…

I’m not.

Okay, I am.

I don’t want to come off as ungracious, you know? But I also feel like providing a fun few hours on a Saturday afternoon is plenty gracious! Ain’t no cover charge here!

What do you think, Dear Reader? Goody bags or nah? Any suggestions on good ones that aren’t a huge waste of time and money? Or should I just belly up to the dollar store and buy a bunch of stuff to send home with the party guests?

As I wrote on my Facebook post: “Confirmations of my position very welcome.” 🙂

No matter what, see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Anika Walker says:

    No goody bag! Your party plans sound like so much fun they may not notice-fingers crossed!

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Haha, thank you, Anika! I’m so glad that people agree with me! I KNEW I wasn’t a monster for not wanting to give out goody bags!

  2. I never do goodie bags. Had a bin of books once that I let the kids pick from. Did a build a bear, so that bear stuffie was the goodie. But no, I don’t see the need.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Book bin is pretty cool!!! Ohhhh, why didn’t I go to the library book sale? That would have been genius. Maybe I can find a used book store and pick up a few…? Putting this in the idea list for Minor’s birthday in April!

  3. Amber Thompson says:

    I’m with you 100% regarding goody bags but they have become such an expectation. In lieu of spending obscene amounts of time and money on useless items that get tossed aside I try to invest in something that will be “used”….sugar cookies. You can theme them to the party and put in a pretty package and at least you know it will get used or eaten in this case. Usually you can purchase from a bakery for $2 each so it keeps the cost down. Also it fills the satisfaction of (you) giving and (them) receiving a “goody bag”. Its always been well received.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I’m feeling this sugar cookie idea. Maybe I can bake a few (it’s looking like 10 kids) and have them decorate their own before hittin’ the road…

  4. Trish says:

    I had to giggle at the “spoiled suburban kids”. Yes, plenty are, but there have to be rural and urban spoiled kids too, right?

    PS the one bday party I ever helped plan (for 4 yr old) did not have goody bags.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      It’s true. Spoiled children are everywhere. I have just met exponentially more of them while living here in the ‘burbs. Believe me, mine are spoiled. I tell everyone I meet that mine are the MOST spoiled!!

  5. A reader says:

    This year we solved the goody bag problem by having the boys build bird feeding houses that they took Home. One for each kid. This was a Lot of work before the party with us making the pieces… plus 4 pieces of candy in a paper bag.

    Goody bags are expected are here, too. And I agree with you. They are useless.

  6. Tikeetha T says:

    I still do goody bags. Munch turned 10 last year. But, many events I go to as an adult give goody bags so I think it is an expectation. However, I don’t think kids will be mad either way. Good luck with the party.

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