I.Hate. Goodie Bags.
There I said it.
Controversial? Sure. But true. SO FREAKING TRUE. I just want them gone. But as I stare at an ominous October calendar that has a giant star on October 8, my youngest daughter’s first birthday party, I start to waver in my conviction. Because as much as I don’t want to make them, I know there will be kids that expect them. Hell, there will be parents that expect them.
I’ve given into the Goodie Bag monster before. At my sons second birthday I made little canvas bags, complete with each child’s name on them. A dinosaur themed event, each kid got “fossil dig” brushes – each with painstakingly Cricut-ed labels – and of course, the homemade salt dough fossils to go with them. There were bubble wants and homemade crayons in the shape of dinosaurs. And I’m not gonna lie, it was ADORABLE. But looking back, Good God was it a lot of work!
By the time I got to my second child’s first birthday party at the end of December, each kid got one coloring calendar. Because easy.
Three days away from the seventh birthday party in my resume, and I’m ready to throw in the towel and say eff it. I’m afraid I’m not going to get my dream of saying goodbye to the goodie bags, so here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for putting the GOOD back in Goodie Bag!
- DON’T get stuff just to have stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge part of me that knows I could drive to the nearest party store, buy every piece of plastic in the place, fill cheap plastic bags with it, and look like we have a beautiful bulging goodie bag. But I also know it’s a bag of stuff I’d want to steal from my kids and hide forever before I spend the next 9 years trying to sneak throw it away. Save me the effort and just don’t.
- DO Give consumables.
I love getting something that’s a one and done. A craft kit I can take to a restaurant. A homemade treat my kids will eat and I won’t have to store anywhere. Basically anything that will take up very little space in my house for a very short period of time and that I can throw away is A-okay with me.
- DON’T kill yourself crafting.
Unless you’re into that sort of thing – and then you do you. But if it helps – my kids have never once, not ever said, “Mama, look at the craftsmanship my friend’s Mommy put into this homemade item I’m going to play with in the dirt later!” Like these tags I put on all these fossil brushes? WHAT was I thinking??? There was zero need for me to stay up all night gluing tiny little shovels together. ZERO. So if you go this route, I will applaud you, but I will NEVER fault you for not crafting either.
- DO give one item.
Sometimes I add up how much all the tchotchkes would cost and see if I can do ONE item for each kid at the same price. Like a cute tumbler with each kids’ name on it. They can take it home, have a water bottle around, it’s actually useful – win, win, win!
Love this idea but don’t want to deal with making all the vinyls? Well, you’re in luck! Because The Salty Mamas are now on Etsy and we’ll make the vinyls FOR you. That’s how bad I want you to do this over a traditional goodie bag!
- DON’T feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses.
My son’s birthday is in June, and in our friend group, he’s sort of at the end of what we affectionately call “Birthday Season.” You know, the time of year where you’re at a birthday party every weekend – sometimes two. So I see all the goodie bags before I’ve finalized my plan. Some are super cute. Some are super creative. And, frankly, some are just more expensive than what I can spend on a goodie bag. It can be overwhelming to want to keep up. DON’T. It’s a kids birthday party. It just. Doesn’t. matter. Let go of the pressure and have fun.
- DO give to others.
Because I REALLY don’t want to do Goodie Bags at all, and also don’t want to look like a cheapskate, we’ve talked about banning the bags at my son’s next birthday party, and instead making a donation to a charity of his choice. He loves animals, so maybe to our local no-kill shelter. We love the YMCA and would love to help provide subsidies to other families, so perhaps we’ll donate there. But we’ll let folks know that instead of giving them more stuff, we’re giving to someone else instead.
In the end, do what makes YOU happy! Because years from now, our kids won’t remember the goodie bags, they’ll just remember that you worked hard to make their birthday good.