Saturday, May 16, 2009

Party Favors

I don't mean to be ungracious, but really, what is up with party favors these days? When I think, "party favor," I think, "balloon," or maybe, "ziplock baggie filled with cheap, unnecessary plastic objects that will break within 48 hours and be in the landfill by next week." Although I'm not exactly a fan of this kind of party favor, it is at least on a scale appropriate to the observation of an elementary school birthday.

Lately, however, it seems like party favors are escalating. Lucy has been bringing home from the seemingly unending stream of birthday parties she attends a series of "favors" that, in my opinion, would more accurately be termed "gifts." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that in our culture it is the birthday child who is supposed to get the gifts, not the guests. Maybe I'm old-fashioned (OK, I'm old-fashioned) but it seems to me that the party itself is the gift to the guests. Imagine if, every time I had a dinner party, I not only served the guests dinner, wine, and dessert, but sent them home with tote bags full of jewelry and toenail polish. Absurd, right? Yet that's what happens at these parties.

Recent party favors have included tee shirts, flip-flops, picture frames, dolls, even live potted plants. And actually, none of these things would be so bad if they came alone. ("Here's your cute little potted geranium to remember Suzie's birthday!" I'm down with that.) The trouble is that they come grouped into increasingly larger containers. First came the paper gift bag, full of stuff. Next came the cloth tote bag, correspondingly full. Most recently, Lucy actually brought home a bucket full of favors. That's right, a bucket. Stickers, activity books, stuffed animals, clothing, makeup (yes, makeup), pens and pencils, and, of course, candy. Always candy.

Fellow parents, I am begging you! Stop this madness. Kids don't need more stuff. They need to have fun playing with each other, and that is what you are so generously giving them when you invite them to your child's birthday party. Skip the bucket, OK? We'll all be happier in the long run.