Are Goodie Bags Really Necessary?


goodie bags

Does anyone else feel like goodie bags get way too much attention at birthday parties? This year we have already attended two birthday parties, and there are plenty more to come. At the end of every party, each child receives a goodie bag as a “thank you” for attending. Nothing excites my daughter Ilse more than attacking a party goodie bag. 

I have noticed that the goodie bag is sometimes more memorable than the actual birthday party, especially if the bag features a hefty mixture of toys and sweets. This got me wondering whether the birthday celebration should be enough for our children. What would happen if we skipped the goodie bag?

When did goodie bags become a thing?

When I was growing up, it was exciting to be invited to a birthday party. At the party, we played games like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” and “Musical Chairs” and took swings at a piñata to collect candy. We ate pizza and cake and had a grand time. We left the party without a goodie bag. Shouldn’t the invitation and attending the party be enough?

What would happen if we stopped giving goodie bags at children’s birthday parties? 

Would our children be any less entertained with a bag of junk to haul home? Would a party be considered less successful because the hosting family did not provide a goodie bag? Would you as an attendee judge a children’s birthday party unfavorably if the family did not provide a goodie bag?

What if we did away with goodie bags altogether?

We have attended some parties with goodie bag alternatives like a photo booth to take selfies or a “build your own candy bag” bar. One of my favorite children’s authors, Eva Chen, recently posted on Instagram about how she did a book giveaway at her child’s birthday party. What a brilliant way to encourage reading!

While I don’t think goodie bags are mandatory for a children’s birthday party, I do think that a small gesture of thanks is the right thing to do. Whether it’s a book, a funny selfie photo, sweet treat to take home, or yes, a goodie bag, it’s the thought that counts. With Ilse’s birthday on the horizon in May, I’m beginning to ponder how we will celebrate it and whether we will decide to do goodie bags.


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Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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