Loot bags, love 'em or hate 'em? Renee Kaiman, the blogger behind My So Called Mommy Life, has a strong opinion, namely that we just say no to them once and for all.
When I was a kid, loot bags weren't a thing. You were lucky just to be invited to a birthday party, let alone having any expectation that you would receive a present for your mere presence. The kid whose birthday it was got the gift, and that was that.
Today, things are different. Not only have the scale and scope of parties broken all boundaries of common sense and affordability.
Where kids' parties were once a low-key affair held in the home, with pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and cake, today's parents pay through the teeth for hosted events held at pricey venues, with the expectation that they must also shell out on take-home gifts for the guests, too.
Typically, loot bags are filled with dollar store items that end up in a landfill site faster than you can say 'junk.' Ditto for the stickers and candies kids bring home from school at Valentine's Day and Hallowe'en.
"My kids obviously love to receive [loot bags]," lamented Kaiman, "but within a few minutes things are broken [and] there's lots of pieces all over my house. And for the parents who are throwing the birthday, it's just a waste of money."
It's a modern tradition that the Toronto-based blogger calls out as B.S. Kaiman admits she was worried about the backlash, but parents have mostly been in agreement with her manifesto against loot bags.
Still, others defend the practice, saying it's a question of quality. Parents simply need to up their game, coming up with more creative and resourceful favours, such as books, plant seeds, or even charitable donations.
In the past, I have handed out board books (from the dollar store) and gift cards to Menchies or Booster Juice. However, at an earlier birthday which involved quite the splurge, I made the conscious choice not to hand out loot bags - on the assumption that the kids in attendance were already getting treated to an amazing experience.
When it came time to wind down the party, it didn't take long for one of the kids to call me out on the omission. Needless to say the boy's mom was mortified.
I politely informed him that the treat was the party itself, but afterwards I questioned whether I had been stingy.
"Instead of bringing a gift to the child whose birthday it is and teaching the child that it feels good to give to others, they're always being rewarded," said Kaiman.
And she's right. Kids come to expect what they've been given. Isn't it high time we change the birthday party status quo, for our own sanity's sake?