Remember the good ol' days--that would be the late 70's and most of the 80's for me--when you'd go to a friend's birthday party? If you were grew up in Warner Robins, GA, bless your heart, chances are you had a party at Olympia (and played the "Dice Game!" or tried to impress boys with your backwards skating abilities!), or Burger King. Or maybe your parents were really cool and took you to Macon for big time fun at Showbiz Pizza. (My parents fell into the cool category--but only Eric got the big Showbiz treatment. Obviously I've never gotten over it.) Even if it was just a party at the home of the birthday guy or gal, it was still a festive event...a couple of hours spent pinning that donkey's darn tail on, chugging Kool-Aid, eating lots of cake and ice cream and ooohing & ahhhing over the awesome Magic Curl Barbie that was just opened by the honored child. At the end of the event you might have been handed a treat bag--a blow-out horn, some candy, or if the kid's parents were totally rad, a jelly bracelet to match the jelly shoes you were ruining your feet by wearing every waking hour. I'm talking Madonna-wannabe here. Anyway, so you came, you partied, you gifted, and you were rewarded with a tiny token of the birthday child's appreciation...the treat bag. Those were the days.
There is a new trend (or new to me at least--correct me if this is old news to any of y'all!) in our neck of the woods regarding birthday party treat bags. Or I should call them what they really are. SWAG. Pure, unadulterated swag for the under 10 set. At Libbey's 5th birthday part last year, we gave out little cellophane bags that I'd filled with fruit snacks (Vitamin C, y'all!), a piece or two of bubble gum, a pair of sunglasses ($3 for a pack of 8 at Target!), and the ubiquitous blow out thingy. Darn fine parting gift, I thought to myself at the time. Excuse me for being so wrong. I hope I haven't offended any of your children. The horror!
Since early December my girls have attended a few parties and have returned home with gift-sized bags so full of stuff that I accused them of stealing from the birthday gal's stash of presents. "Libbey--you can't take that Barbie or Care Bear--that was Jane's* gift, honey!" (*name changed...duh!) Then I turn to their father, party chauffeur extraordinaire, "Scotty--were you not watching as they pilfered through the pile of gifts? I could kill you--how embarrassing, honey!" What I get from him in return is a very exasperated, "Honey, these are their treat bags." Um...excuse me? Treat bags are little sacks of candy and bubbles. Swag bags are what my girls are bringing home. I'm talking Barbies (the real ones, mind you--not faux Barbie, or the dollar store imposter!), Care Bears, Hardcover books, large tubes of "Raspberry Truffle Body Creme", a big box of crayons--64 in all, lavishly embellished crowns, complete with rhinestones and feathers (please God, women, why do you buy these? I'll pick feathers off the floor 'til Easter, and then it will be the darn green basket grass that I swear multiplies each time you pick a "blade" off the floor...) The list goes on and on. Here I am fussing at my daughters because I'm fearful they're turning into little birthday party kleptos..."Hmmmm, let's see...whose party can we hit next? I bet Bronwen will get some good Hannah Montana loot, and she'll never know it's missing...heh-heh-heh!" Oh no...they're not thieves-in-training...they're just bringing home the swag.
Hey, I've got a brilliant idea! Poop on this writer's strike--we're going to LA next month and raiding the pre-Oscar swag tents...surely we'll be able to find a nice, free iPhone! Better yet, maybe Suri will have an early birthday party! You know that baby daddy is gonna give away a nice Burberry cardigan in his precious child's Louis Vuitton treat bags. Score!
Is it me, or have birthday parties become just a bit too much? This whole goodie bag issue is really bugging me, mostly because I'm too cheap to provide a Toys 'R Us shopping spree for all the little guests who attend Libbey & Caroline's shindigs. But also because it's teaching our kids a not-so-great lesson...greed or gluttony, anyone? Remember when you were excited over that little bag of candy or a plastic spider ring? Thankfully my girls are still very appreciative of the little plastic necklaces or mini bubbles they usually receive as parting token at a party. And blessedly, Libbey has not asked that I start wrapping Ballet Barbie or Transformers for the treat bags we're giving away at her party in a couple of weeks. Actually, we're not doing bags this year...I bought purple plastic mugs to give to each guest, and they are quite cute, if I do say so myself. And I do! (We're doing a Tinkerbell theme--a welcome change from all the Hannah Montana we've seen this year, even though we do love our Miley Cyrus.) I'll stash a little sticker strip or pack of gum in each mug...but that will be all. And enough, I might add.