A Party With Out the Bag

I have officially become a rebel. A square peg in a round hole. A non-conformist.

Call me what you want, but I am ditching the party bag.

ditching. the. bag.

Was that a GASP? Did you drop your coffee on your keyboard? Did you think, how could she?

Listen, my daughter is having a birthday party tomorrow. I booked the roller rink, sent out the invites, need to get the cake, etc. etcetera. RSVPs in. All set. And then.. BAM. I start having anxiety about the stupid party bag.

The dreaded bane of my existence. A little bag filled with a bunch of crap that almost never makes it out of the back seat of my car. And if it does, the contents more than likely end up in the dog’s mouth or underneath my foot, which of course is then followed by my cursing up a storm after having stepped on a very cheap, and sharp, plastic kazoo.

For the record, I HATE party bags. Always have. I see no point to the party bag. You host a party, shell out all the cash for this, that and the other thing. Give them cake. Ice cream. And experience. The pleasure of your company. Yada. And then  you are expected, even encouraged, to present your guests with something for coming to your party that you threw and paid for.

I don’t get it.

Of course, if the party bags were like the ones they give the Hollywood A-listers at the post Oscar celebrations, that’s a whole different story. Fantasy land this is not. Just small town Connecticut. No iPad minis or GoPros in these bags. Maybe some Pinterest-worthy party bag assemblage by some crafty moms. You know who you are. And we know I am not one of them.

Have you been there? The Love-Hate relationship with party bags and their breakable contents. The cute little temporary tattoos that no longer look cute when they are on your wall. The old-fashioned silly putty that was fun when you could copy comics from the paper but is no longer fun when you are waiting for the dog to poop out the neon green blob you begged your kids not to leave around for him to get. The little rubber ball attached to a band that you are supposed to hit with a paddle only it breaks the first time you try.

Am I right?

I am. It’s been a long haul with the bags.

I am taking this first step. A baby step if you will.

Come to the party. Roller Skate. Have fun with your friends. Eat cake. Go home.

And next year. No presents. I tried to convince my daughter that this year, in lieu of presents,we should have the kids bring donations for the local food bank. I told her all the other kids were doing it and that her birthday is so close to Christmas and all that.

“Next year Mom.” That’s all she said.

Fine. A little compromise then.

I told her that I was ditching the party bag. Her eyes welled up. Big brown blurry discs of pure sadness. I. Am. The. Meanest. Mom.

She didn’t even have to say it.

Eh. She’ll get over it.

And so, I am certain, will the 10 little 8 year-olds at the party tomorrow who leave. Empty handed.


Birthday Parties

Sadly, I had to cancel my daughter’s birthday party for today. Impending bad weather. AGAIN! Needless to say, she was not all that happy about it. I don’t blame her.

Birthday parties are awesome for the kiddos. Fun, fun, fun, cupcakes, balloons, more fun and then the crap they come home with in the goodie bags. yay!

Birthday parties are out of control. I am not preaching. I’m stating a fact. I am a guilty party as well. Trying to give my kids cool birthday parties like their friends. Spending an exorbitant amount of money on a venue. More money on party favors, decorations, etc.. It’s just something that has to be done. I don’t want my kids to feel left out because their parties aren’t as fun, cool, etc.. as their friends. So we suck it up and give them that really awesome party.

We’ve been to parties at really neat places. Laser Tag. Gymnastics. Nature Centers. Amusement Parks. Art Centers. Pottery Studios. Some had ponies. Others with waterslides.  We’ve done the same ones, too. We did one party at home when my son was very into army. It was a camouflage army party and all the 6-year-old boys dressed in camo, we played army games and I set up a Basic Training obstacle course. My husband then took the kids on a march through our woods. The boys had cupcakes, juice and snacks and I sent them home with a goodie bag full of crap. But my son said this was the coolest party he’d ever had. It was a lot of work, I admit, but it didn’t cost that much. And the kids had fun.

Boys in camo.

My sister in LA thinks it’s ridiculous and lectured me about the state of kids’ birthday parties in general. I listened. Nodded in agreement with much of her examples, but then said at the end. “If you had kids, you’d feel differently.” She said she wouldn’t but I am not sure she could know what she would feel if she looked into the faces of her own sad children begging for something their friends had.

In any case, my daughter’s party will be at a local gym where she and her friends will be treated to the foam pit, tumbling, and fun with gymnastics. For 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Here’s the breakdown of costs:

Gym for 1 hour for 14 kids = $225
Chatchki party favors for 14 kids = $50 (and this was the $1 items at Michael’s Crafts including 14 lip glosses, 14 bubbles, 3 balls for boys, pencils for the girls, stickers, Disney Cars magic write books, and a felt book mark craft they can do.
Hello Kitty table-cloth, plates and invitations and thankyou notes = $18
Goodie Bags = $2.50 ( they are brown paper bags that I will stuff and adorn with the most adorable labels my friend designed for me. Price still pending.
Cupcake mix and frosting = $5
Juice Boxes and Pretzels = $4
Balloons = $3.99

Yikes. Swallow. The grand total is $308.49

Here’s the thing. Yes, it’s a pain in the wallet. Yes, it is out of control. Yes, we could spend less by having it at home. But I look at it this way. My kids are young only once. By the time they reach 10, or sooner, their birthday parties will be a sleepover and pizza. And that is fine. But for the couple of years when they are young, for them to have that really great party at a really great place like their friends, well, so be it. It’s only money, right?

Happy Birthday to Me!