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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Party favours and other irritations

Back in ancient times, party favours had yet to be invented. In those days, a child would attend another child’s birthday party, without a parent in tow as chaperon. The child was at the mercy of the birthday child’s parents. On conclusion of the party, if you were exceptionally lucky, you would be given a piece of mangled birthday cake wrapped up in a paper napkin to take home.

At some time between then and now, party favours were invented. These favours are purchased by the parent and given to;
A] every child in your child’s class
B] every child that attends the party
The parent can make life difficult for themselves by ensuring that the favours match the sex of the recipient. [translation = or ensure that the favours are unisex] N.B. don’t forget to also buy the very expensive little bags, also sexless, that come in packs of 6 or 8 or some other inconvenient number. Good, [translation = creative] parents also decorate the bags. N.B remember to purchase sufficient yardage of ribbon for approximately 40 bags.

The contents of the bags should ideally be the same in order to keep the peace. [translation = same may be boring for the recipient but it is better than different which provokes meltdowns] Technically, your child, the birthday child, should not receive a party favour bag because etiquette dictates that this is a gift for the invitee. [translation = ignore this rule as etiquette isn’t all it’s cracked up to be]

So far so good. Now you are poor, but still have all the big things to do.

It is tempting to skip the whole party favour bag nightmare completely, but that temptation should be resisted. This activity, of assembling the bags should be completed at the dead of night. [translation = whilst you are alone with no small people present to tax your efficiency and sequencing]

So what have we established so far? That Party favour bags, together with their contents should be banished from the earth. [translation – forthwith] What possible justification could one have for such rashness? Oodles of justification since you ask. The modern child is already over toyed! Remember to breathe! Or is that just me? so there we have it ladies and gentlemen, consensus. On a scale of one to ten, how annoying are party bags? Exactly! I was going to say 17 and a half too.

Now we have established the status quo, it is time for a rethink.
Must we?

Firstly, etiquette, as etiquette is paramount around here. [translation = anyone in need of an additional spit bowl?] American’s by their very nature, are overly generous. Guests always bring large and extravagant gifts, so the very least one can do is acknowledge their kindness in attending. [translation = danger money] What else?

The distribution of the bags is the ideal opportunity to put all those painfully acquired social skills into practice, the give, the take, the words, now that he is 8. [translation = climb on your friend, without using any words, give him a bear hug to crush his little rib cage and kiss the nearest part of his anatomy that you happen to come in contact with] Great!

But there are also more subtle skills, depending upon your children’s current disposition. Maybe paper is aversive. [translation = tactile defensiveness] Maybe the fine motor skills are challenged? If you are making your own party favour bags, you can simply cut circles of non-scratchy cloth, wrap the contents inside and close with a loose elastic band. [translation = unless you are on the ‘quatrefoils or bust’ stage of development]

If you choose the contents carefully, you can produce a mini emergency therapy kit for the child, which has the added benefit of thanking the parent too. [gum, sunglasses, koosh, parachute guy, puzzles, kaleidoscope, whistle, gazoo…..all such ordinary little familiar things that can lead to therapeutic learning and play, extra special joy …….or a hideous meltdown]

Lastly, it took Temple Grandin’s book, “Thinking in Pictures," to help me understand the role of novelty in the human psyche. I still don’t really understand the joy of the novel, but I know that it exists. If ‘novelty’ can induce ‘play’ then it certainly gets my vote.

Post script - anyone have advice for those experiencing marital "disharmony?"


Melissa said...

When we did goodie bags at my son's party I made one up for him. I knew he would NOT understand why the kids were all getting these cool little toys and he wasn't... but I'm with you on this - down with the goodie bags! Let's start a revolution... you first ;)

A Bishops Wife said...

I do not do parties anymore..I can not compete and have no will what so ever.

At 45, I have become tired and boring and menapausal.
Those little party bags would put me in the "Nut House" for sure.

Domestic Goddess said...

I'm the boring mama in the class.

We have parties at home with a SELECT few children (not the whole class, as most invite). We do pin the tail on the donkey, play in the backyard and make crafts before they eat Homemade pizza and PBJ sandwiches. If parents stay (not many do around here, unless they are related to me) I make grownup food, usually a pot of Chili or hot turkey sandwiches.
As for the favours, I get dollar store minibags (love dollar stores!) and allow the boy to put stickers on them or write their names himself. We give a matchbox car and a sheet of stickers. That's it. SMall, cheap, easy. We went to one party where there was EASILY a $20 gift bag full of stuff, plus it was at a fancy indoor play place that was $15 per kid. The WHOLE CLASS was invited. That's 20 kids and almost all showed up, plus their neighbors, friends, relatives, etc. Ridiculous!!! But we live in an area where most are wealthy (not us).

I hate the goody bag idea. I think next year we will skip it. After all, I am feeding these kids at my house and they leave with some sort of fabulous prize or award anyways, since Bug Boy gives away his toys...

Anonymous said...

Ooh, yes, party bags. Bad Thing. And the children expect them: "Where's my party bag?" And then rip them open before they've even left the party, to assess the contents ...

My best ever idea for a party bag was a packet of flower seeds each. (Girl's party - perhaps you'd have to do macho vegetables for small boys, like pumpkins. Or sunflowers, I suppose, so they can compare sizes)

Linda said...

Birthday parties used to be so much simpler when the only one getting the gifts was the birthday boy or girl, which I still think is how it should be.

However, I am old and poor and have no patience for these things anymore! I think I'm there with A Bishops Wife!

kristina said...

Don't forget, you also have to get bags for all the aides, teacher(s), therapists who might drop by, random younger siblings (babies) who other parents could carry in.....now that Charlie is older, it's just the food and have done. Done!

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