A box on a table filled with loot bags


A Pox On Loot Bags: I’m Done with Party Favours

Jan 10, 2018

I am planning my seven-year-old’s birthday party.

By “planning,” of course, I mean that I have phoned an indoor party place and booked a spot, complete with cake, games, hot dogs and — oh joy! — two bottomless pitchers of pop. I am committed to inviting some children, ferrying my own to and from the party and maybe taking a few pictures.

There is no earthly reason why I need to add ... a dozen little plastic bags full of more sugar and more plastic crap

I’ve long ago gotten over any kind of Pinterest-induced guilt I might’ve had about outsourcing the kids’ birthday parties. A couple of years ago, I accepted the fact that the idea of entertaining a dozen or so children in my home for two hours — children hopped up on sugar and presents, no less — just didn’t sound like any fun. I’d much rather hand over the cash and have someone else take care of it. And before someone else says it: yes, this is a first-world solution to a first-world problem, and I’m just fine with that.

In an effort to further reduce my stress, I’m eliminating something else from birthday-party planning: loot bags.

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There is already cake. There are hot dogs. There are games, and other children. There is soda pop. There is no earthly reason why I need to add, on top of all of this, a dozen little plastic bags full of more sugar and more plastic crap that will simply break and then settle into the layer of all the other broken, plastic crap that inhabits my household and those of most of my children’s friends.

Inevitably, the toys (and the bag) end up in the garbage.

None of the kids at that party needs another brightly coloured, unsharpened pencil. No child who has just spent two hours at an indoor play place drinking bottomless quantities of soda pop needs an extra bag of chips or some candy to take home. For what? In case they get hungry in the car? In case they have not met their caloric intake for the week?

Loot bags go against so many of my values that they make me itch. They’re expensive (five items from the dollar store, multiplied by 10 kids, plus a couple mini chocolate bars — it adds up). They’re an environmental nightmare. And they cause strife. I don’t know what happens in your house, but in my house what inevitably happens with loot bags is that my kids come home already over-sugared, bicker with their sibling about whether or not they will share, then leave trails of candy wrappers around the house, while ignoring the injection-moulded plastic toys in the bag.

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None of the kids at that party needs another brightly coloured, unsharpened pencil.

Inevitably, the toys (and the bag) end up in the garbage. As for the unsharpened pencils, we throw them into a drawer. And then, when somebody needs a pencil, we go rifling through the drawer and come up with a handful of pencils, all of which aren’t sharpened. And we curse.

I don’t know when the tradition of giving kids presents for attending a party became so absolutely entrenched, but I am standing up to say, Enough. You had a nice time at the party, you don’t need a present to prove it. You have plenty of toys at home already — you’re good.

Go home, relax, eat an apple, play nicely with your brother. And let your parents revel in the glorious absence of your so-called “loot.”

Article Author Susan Goldberg
Susan Goldberg

Read more from Susan here.

Susan Goldberg is a freelance writer, essayist, editor and blogger. Her articles and essays have been featured in, among others, Ms., the Globe and Mail, Today’s Parent, Advisor’s Edge, Corporate Knights and Stealing Time magazines, as well as in several anthologies, a variety of parenting and lifestyle websites, and on the CBC. She is co-editor of the award-winning anthology And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families. Susan is one of approximately 30 Jews in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she lives with her sons and a changing cast of cats. Read more at susanlgoldberg.com.

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