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The Thing I Want You to Stop Doing at Kids' Parties

"Where did your brother get that whistle?" I asked my kids through gritted teeth.

My 3-year-old had been skipping around the house with a green plastic whistle for the past 10 minutes—10 minutes that had felt like 10 hours—and I needed to get to the bottom of the squawking. Or the tooting. Or whatever God-awful noise it is that a whistle makes.

"Oh, it was from my goody bag! From Jonah's birthday party last weekend," my 6-year-old told me.

That's right. The goody bag.

Oh, goody.

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Three questions immediately came to my mind. First: what kind of monster puts a whistle in a goody bag? Second: who started this whole birthday party goody bag nonsense in the first place? And third—and perhaps most importantly: when can we put a stop to it?

I'm not the only parent who loathes these little bags of doom. In fact, there seems to be a growing resistance to purchasing, organizing and sending birthday party attendees home with shiny sacks of candy and dollar store garbage-toys (like WHISTLES). And that's because, I think, the reasons against goody bags far outweigh the reasons for them.

For one, they're wasteful. At least half the items in every goody bag end up in the trash within the first few days following each birthday party. The rest get forgotten in any number of toy hells, such as couch crevices, siblings' nostrils and that frightening space underneath the fridge. We're basically funneling junk straight into a landfill every time we give into the goody bag craze.

The point of the party should be fun and celebration: not the collection of more stuff.

Goody bags also often add more sugary fuel to the birthday treat fire. Why do kids need a sack full of lollipops, chocolate and hard candy ropes—oh yes, they exist—after consuming their weight in cake and ice cream? I know that scientists keep trying to tell us that sugar consumption does not lead to children's hyperactivity; if that's the case, then I must wonder if most goody bag candy is laced with PCP.

Finally, I've found that goody bags tend to lead to unreasonable expectations among partygoers and goody bag-compilers alike. Some parents work themselves into a frenzy trying to put together the most amazing, Pinterest-enviable bags. Others attempt to forego goody bags altogether, only to find a slew of wide-eyed, distraught children asking them, "But where? Where?! Where are the goody bags?!"

"I just gave you a beach ball and fed and entertained you for the past two hours," I wanted to say to the kid who asked me that question at my son's 8th birthday party—the first one I organized sans goody bags. "What more could you possibly want from me?"

At a child's party, there isn't more that anyone should expect from the party organizer. The point of the party should be fun and celebration: not the collection of more stuff.

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So look: I don't judge you if you're a goody bag-giver. I know that your intentions are probably good. You likely have a generous spirit and a kind soul. But I'd like you to reconsider the goody bag. Give it a second thought. Or, better yet, a hearty goodbye. Most parents would be much happier without them, and kids' sadness over their loss shouldn't last longer than the time it takes for them to pass out into a cake-induced coma on the car ride home from the party.

And if you absolutely insist on providing goody bags at your kid's next birthday party, just please, please don't include a whistle.

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Image via Twenty20/hardcastleophotography

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