Say no to loot bags. Seriously.

Dear Parents,
Let’s all decide, as a group, that traditional loot bags are a terrible waste of money and sanity and we should never, ever make them again? OK?

Yes, I know. It’s easy to roam around a Dollar Store and fill a basket with six-packs and eight-packs colourful crap. It sounded very inexpensive in theory, didn’t it? A couple of bucks here for party blowers, two bucks for powdery candies with questionable ingredients. Each bag will only cost two or three dollars, right?

There’s math involved, sure, as you count the number of guests on your fingers. If I buy three six-packs of erasers shaped like horses and two 12-packs of pencils then I could, hmmm. But what about the soccer ball notebooks? Those come in four-packs so I’ll need — PUT DOWN THE CERAMIC DOLPHIN!

Yes, your kids are probably “helping” you shop, too, and insisting they need to give each friend a mini harmonica (the other parents will hate you) and a piercing whistle (seriously, the other parents will stop inviting you fun places).

I have done these loot bags, many times. I have bought or made cute themed bags and written each child’s name on the front, stacking them neatly on a table by the door. I have filled the bags with the junkiest junk you can imagine — the yo-yos that break immediately, the cheap stickers, the miniature bottles of bubbles that last for about eight seconds of bubble-blowing. There’s something satisfying about assembling a loot bag, which is probably why they still exist since being on the receiving end is painful.

When my own kids pile into the van after a birthday party, I immediately ask to see “their cool new bouncy ball” — there’s always a bouncy ball. It’s perfectly throat-sized and just squishy enough that it seem fun to pop in their mouth. (Some kids outgrow “mouthing” things — mine didn’t.) I pretend to drop the ball somewhere in the van and promise to retrieve it later, but I’ve actually used Mommy Sleight of Hand to sneak it inside an empty Tim’s cup.

About an hour after the birthday party, the loot bag toys are broken and go straight into the garbage. I hide any uneaten made-in-China candy in a high cabinet where I’ll “forget” to give it to them, ever, and throw it out six months later. Was that really worth the $5 or $6 the damn thing ended up costing the parent? Nope!

I officially quit loot bags at the kids’ party last year, when they turned three and five. I bought a hard plastic Paw Patrol cup for each guest and filled it with homemade caramel corn and a gummy snake. Eat the snack, keep the cup, DONE. It worked out so well that I did something similar for our daughter’s party over the weekend, and — surprise, surprise — it cost way less than a loot bag of litter.

Trust me, it’s so much better.

A Parent Who Is Tired of Hiding Bouncy Balls

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