Every parent knows it takes a village to raise a child, but that sometimes the village isn’t always entirely behind your decisions.
Take, for example, kids lolly bags at birthday parties. The topic may seem innocent enough, but in Parent Land, it’s politically fraught – so fraught, in fact, that it could be the topic of the next movie in the Bad Moms movie franchise: Bad Moms: Party Bag Problems.
Yeah, it’s that divisive.
So we’ve taken the time to break down this important topic for you, to help you the next time you need to deal with one.
Pro-Party Bag People – old school style.
These are the parents whom, much like this author, love it when their kids get not just party bags, but lolly bags (that contain tonnes of calories, harkening from a time when we ate sugar with abandon). The reason? They intend to consume some/most/all of the confectionary content.
It could happen on the drive home from the party, when the child guest has crashed from a sugar rush after eating party food.
Or it could happen when sneaky parents (again, like the author), say things like, “I’ll just have a taste to make sure it’s not poisoned.”
Whatever the tactic, this pro-party lolly bag parent sees this loot as their rightful dues after being forced to take their child to the (usually alcohol-free) party in the first place.
And, to exactly no-one’s surprise, this parent is usually confronted about missing contents in an awkward showdown with their child/the other parent who was hoping to get something to eat, too.
Pro-Party Bag People – 2018-style.
These are the parents who believe in the tradition of after-party gifts, but are sensible (unlike this author). They love to have fun, and believe in parties – but see no reason why even more chemically-created concoctions need to be had after the event.
Some are even quite vocal about their wish for their children to be plied with extra sugar and fat after two hours of fairy bread and mini sausage rolls – and this is where the tension comes in.
They can refuse to let their child take a bag at the end. And they can be annoyed with the organising parent for putting them in a position where they have to choose and/or deal with a sugar crash later.
If a parent is upset enough, resentments are created, and sides are taken. The social cost can be enormous – for the kids and the parents. And the school’s Parents and Friends Association.
We are not even exaggerating.
Anti-Party Bag People.
Some parents believe that any sort of gift bag is a waste of money. They feel the gesture is a hollow (almost like their souls - kidding!).
Of course, there are also the parents who are concerned about the environment. They think that everything in the bags, from the lolly-wrapping, to the cheap toys and the bags themselves, create completely unnecessary landfill. Which of course, is a very valid (albeit joyless) point.
A more immediate area of concern (than the death of the planet in a few thousand years) is the very real and serious issue of allergies when giving party bags. Not only food allergies, but latex allergies (to be clear - in the form of balloons). No organising parent wants to be responsible for exposing a child to an allergen, and no receiving parent wants to deal with a child who can't have a bag, or can't eat its content. It's a veritable minefield.
Interestingly, many pro-party bag parents (such as the author) feel quite comfortable/desperate in taking bags, but when it comes to having to organise them for their own child's party, the situation is somewhat different - again, speaking from personal experience.
In those situations, even the most die-hard pro-party-lolly-bag parent, when faced with sourcing goods for, and packing, 30 bags, will often say to themselves:
Surely I don't now, after planning the entire freaking party, have to give out party bags?
The village answers the question.
This was a question that a member of The Motherish (Mamamia's Facebook parenting group), Lisa, asked for advice on recently, on the weekend of her son's third birthday party.
Lisa wrote,"My big 3 yr old is having his bday party on Sunday. Do you think party bags are necessary?"
Group member Aree responded that bags seem to be an accepted tradition, and thus an obligation: "I never think they are necessary but I do it every year anyway!"
Another member commented, "Nah, they're just heaps of fun."
There was also discussion about alternative party gifts to lollies. Placemats, playdough, colouring books, rubber duckies and bubble wands were suggested as acceptable presents for kids - and parent-friendly, too, due to being constructive (as opposed to things like whistles, party blowers and neon necklaces), allergy-friendly and, most importantly - quiet.
Kelly was adamant that party bags are necessary, because, as she wrote, "it’s embarrassing when I’m trying to drag my kid away at the end who’s screaming “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PARTY BAG?!”
One mum, by her own admission, took things a bit far after suggesting people shirk tradition:
"And while I’m killing all the party fun .... not every layer of pass the parcel needs a prize," she joked.
In conclusion, Peta stated something similar to what most of us know as adults to be true: the best part of many parties is leaving.
"Lolly bags - yes. Best part of going to birthdays."
This author wholeheartedly agrees.
Do you still hand out party bags? Do you like your kids receiving them? Tell us in the comments!