Many of my friends on Facebook are aware of the intense hatred I hold toward all things goodie bag. Given what happened on Sunday, I think it’s time for me to vent in long-form.
Now, this might become heated and I might upset people and I can already see the retro comments I’ll one day receive, but I don’t care. Goodie bags must be stopped.
As you already know, most consumer plastics don’t biodegrade. Instead, the plastic merely breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, if anything. Sometimes, tiny plastic bits end up in the stomach of a sea creature or a bird. Sometimes it washes up on beaches and covers the sand with garbage.
It’s horrible. I am a hater of plastic. I try desperately to cut back on how much plastic we use. Since having kids, my hatred for plastic has amplified because kids are the most wasteful creatures in existence. I am trying to teach my three boys that they don’t NEED a drinking straw and they can use a glass instead of a plastic to-go cup when we eat out. But glass cups are rarely brightly covered in cartoon animals. Glass cups don’t usually come with red curly (plastic) straws.
Plastic sucks. Most of it. Obviously, it’s also wonderful and has amazing uses. But the economics, lobbying, or perhaps the evergreen popularity of The Graduate (“One word: plastics!”) has led to an overabundance of its use – from excess packaging to drinking straws to… Goodie bags.
Goodie bags. Most of the time, they just a massive waste. We should stop handing them out at parties. Kids don’t care about the shit that comes inside a goodie bag. Ok, that’s not true. Kids care about it for like 30 minutes, maybe three hours. They may care about it in the car on the way home and then lose interest. Some care about it for an hour or two AFTER they get home. But it always ends up in a drawer that looks like this:
That’s if you’re lucky. Most of the time, mine don’t even make it out of the car.
Let me back up here. Because I don’t want to come off as a total asshole. My kids LOVE goodie bags. They get excited about them. They think they NEED them. Something about the anticipation of another set of plastic teeth gets them giddy with excitement. I will often say to them: do you really need another set of plastic teeth? And they will explain that this time, they will wear the plastic teeth, they will love the plastic teeth. The plastic teeth won’t end up in a landfill.
I am by no means above this. My kids are as materialistic as they come.
Yesterday, we held Elliot’s sixth birthday party at a place called Pump It Up. It’s a great place to have a party, a bit pricey, but whatever. The kids get to jump around and bounce and climb and wear themselves out before we stuff them full of pizza and cake. It’s a win for everyone.
I planned this a few weeks ago. When I was asked about goodie bags I politely declined.
“But they’re included.” She said.
“That’s OK. No offense to you, but all that plastic drives me crazy and it just ends up in a drawer.”
“I understand. How about a piñata?”
“Does that come stuffed with plastic toys?”
“Yes, and candy.”
“Let’s have more candy, less plastic toys.”
We would try and come up with goodie bags on our own. Something useful. Something that wouldn’t end up in a landfill. Toby and I came up with this:
It’s an empty comic book. We purchased 13 of these to give out. We included a nice pencil and some cool comic book -like stickers. Every kid likes to draw, right?
We ended up with 16 kids. I agreed to a few siblings and someone forgot to RSVP. I didn’t have enough goodie bags. So, through gritted teeth, knowing there might be a riot among 6-year-olds, I had no choice but to buy a few of the plastic ones from Pump It Up. But who would get the plastic ones? And would they be OK with that? Would they care? And then would the kids who got the comics, would they freak out? AND WHY AM I EXPENDING SO MUCH EMOTIONAL ENERGY WORRYING ABOUT THIS?
Again, because I have kids. And I’ve seen what happens when one of them doesn’t feel they were treated fairly, I knew that this might end poorly.
So, I took the woman managing our party aside and told her the situation. She suggested we give the girls the plastic goodie bags (there were five girls) and the boys the comics. Which, I found weirdly sexist, but I had split my pants earlier on the bouncy slide and I wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Oh, wait? I didn’t mention that part? Yeah.
It was actually at Pump It Up, but everything else is accurate.
I split my pants – right where it counts – on the bouncy slide at and had to work the rest of the party feeling more than very vulnerable. It helped I was wearing a long shirt, but I made the mistake on telling Toby about it, and so I became the butt of Toby’s jokes for the remainder of the party (pun intended). “Hey, Michele, you to get up there with the kids and dance, it’s FREEZE dance.”
“You can wink at everyone!”
I was in no mood to come up with a solution to goodie bag politics with my ass hanging out.
All I was worried about was making sure I didn’t accidentally flash any children (the adults would shame me – the kids would get me arrested). So, the official Pump It Up Party Planner and I agreed: I would buy five plastic goodie bags. I would give the boys the comics and the girls the Pump It Up goodie bags. The party planner would throw in a “special ticket”. A “special ticket” allows you to pick out MORE PLASTIC GARBAGE at a prize counter before you leave the premises. Given the circumstances, it sounded fine. Arbitrarily gender-based, and cheap and sloppy, but the math worked and the single brain cell that wasn’t arguing with its peers about the date of my last waxing could handle no more nuance.
You can see where this is heading, I’m sure. The girls were totally ok with the plastic goodie bags. No tears. They were a little confused as to why the boys weren’t getting the same thing (as a kid who spent ALL OF HER TIME drawing, I would have started throwing punches, but whatever). They took it in stride. The boys? They were OK, more or less. Except for two kids. Two kids LOST THEIR FUCKING MINDS. Tears were streaming down their faces. They wanted the plastic goodie bags. They wanted the special ticket! THEY DIDN’T WANT A STUPID COMIC BOOK.
Hold up for a second: I need to explain something. I am, by no means, judging these kids. Again: I have three kids. They can be right bastards. If this hadn’t been a BOUDREAUX birthday party, if they had been at another birthday party and they had gotten the comic instead of the cool goodie bag from Pump It Up? They would have been the kids freaking out. I am not sure if they would have cried, but I would have heard about it later. They would NOT have been happy. Elliot may have even burned the place down.
All this to say: I don’t slight the kids for feeling this way. I get it. And I felt super badly for the parents of these two boys because in an alternate universe, I was those two parents with the screaming kids. So, please don’t think I sit here in judgement.
Anyway, I walked up to the one kid with my ass hanging out and said, “Are you upset about the goodie bags?”
Snot is coming out of his nose, tears streaming into his mother’s lap. He is distraught. “YES!” He sobs. “I am HEART BROKEN. I wanted the special ticket!”
His mother is looking at me with the saddest, most apologetic, embarrassed look. And I give her one back that says, “No, this is on me. I am so sorry.”
And then we both tried to explain to the child that we weren’t even sure what the special ticket even was and that I bet he could pick something out up front if he wanted to. And that we were both sorry things ended up this way. I explained to his mother what had happened—that siblings showed up and I didn’t have enough. She understood. He didn’t care. I can’t say I blame him.
I tried. I tried, Mother Earth, to help keep the plastic at bay. I failed, I’m afraid. Because somehow even my youngest ended up with one of these bags. He was SO EXCITED. Took everything out of the bag in the car.
“YOOK WHAT I GOT!” He said holding up the fake teeth. “AND DIS!” He said, grabbing the plastic glasses.
It took us 30 minutes to get home. Everyone piled out of the car and ran into the house, ready to play with their friends out back while Toby and I began getting everything out of the car. There, discarded in between the carseats sat 75% of the plastic goodie bag that Walter had managed to nab.
I also hate traditional goody bags. I didn’t even think about the bigger impact of the plastic (now I just hate them more). I hate that all this useless crap ends up all over my house. I gather it and toss it first, so the baby wouldn’t choke. Now that the baby is two, we have a puppy. And I know candy has a place. I loved candy as a kid and my parents had no candy limits. Still, I hate candy for my kids. Usually I put the goody bags on top of the fridge and we all forget about them until…I finally…clean the top of the fridge.
I try to be creative with goody bags. Maybe one tiny dum-dum lollipop to appease the masses. Then I will put in organic gummy snacks, handmade hair clips, pencils, etc. No stupid, pointless plastic toys. One year my son did a winter, movie night theme (December baby and his idea) and I put popcorn, hot cocoa and a candy candy tied with a ribbon. Or I skip goody bags all together and the kids make a craft and get to bring that home. Tie-dye with a bunch of six year olds? Yes! (we did it outside)
So, yeah. War on plastic crap!
Oh, I’m with you on the plastic crap. Was never so happy as the day my kiddo was too old for that junk at parties.
I just hate goody bags as a rule. It’s the birthday kids day. Come and enjoy, not for goody bags.