The Great Debate: Birthday Gift Bags

I know it has been a few months since my last debate post, but I decided to bring them back because they are fun.



Being one of the few couples in our group of friends with kids, we haven’t gone to a lot of kids birthday parties…yet. Between the ones we have gone too, and the ones I have seen on blogs and pinterest, there is one thing that stands out as being very different from the kids parties of my childhood. The gift bag.

I like to use Pinterest as a jumping point for B’s birthday parties. I don’t have the time to DIY or the money to throw these elaborate themed birthday parties. A delicious cake, food, and a monogrammed birthday shirt are about as far as my abilities take me. I still look in case I come across something that I might be able to handle, but usually that’s not the case.

 Almost, every time we leave a birthday party now, B is given a gift bag with a few toys, maybe some crayons, something that cost somewhere between $5 and $15 when all is said and done. If you have even 10 kids, that can be a huge expense.

When I was a kid, I brought someone a gift to their party and that was that. The family provided the food, cake, entertainment and the friends brought the gifts. That’s what has happened with all of B’s parties as well.

Did I miss something, do we need to provide the kids that attend our children’s parties with a gift bag? If so, when does it stop? I have a hard time with this. I don’t think we need to provide these kids that attend with anything extra but I also don’t want to be that grouchy mom…

So here is where you weigh in, what do you think of this gift bag trend? Do you love it? Hate it? Or participate in it?

I'm with B...just give me the cake


16 thoughts on “The Great Debate: Birthday Gift Bags

  1. I will admit that when it comes to the girls birthday parties I do go a little crazy…themed everything and gift bags to match! For Em’s 5th it was an art party so the guests got a canvas and paints. I search out deals though and try not to spend over $5. For Aubs it was pumpkins and every adult got a mini pumpkin and the kids decorated a pumpkin to keep. I however don’t expect one when we go to a party I just love doing them for our own!

    • I am in awe for people that manage to get it together enough that can do that. I think because the weeks that surround B’s birthday are always so hectic I just don’t have much time, I feel like I can never do it all.

      I love the pumpkins idea, that is so fun!

    • I think that is a big part as to WHY I haven’t done them (besides not having time). B is not at an age where we invite classmates over, so parties are generally adults, maybe 1 or 2 kids, and him.

  2. haha i don’t know how i’ll feel once william starts going/having birthday parties… my brother and sister both do it differently… my sister who always does everything over the top always has gift bags.. my brother has more “experience” birthday parties (like at bounce u) and does no gift bags… i don’t think you’re right or wrong either way! and i’m sure they really can add up!!

    • I agree, there is definitely no right or wrong way to do it. You just have to figure out what works best for the party and your wallet!

  3. I remember getting gift bags as a kid, it was usually a few snack sized candy bars, or a balloon or the craft we did as the party activity.
    With my boys, I do give out “gift bags”, but I limit the cost and it’s not food or junk. I’ve given out homemade R2D2 Crayons (almost free! I used crayon scraps and bought a silicone mold for $5 that I reuse), plastic dishwasher safe cups that matched the party theme ($1 each) or a gift card for a free ice cream cone ($2) at the mini-golf course where we held the party. This year, we’re “splurging” and each kid is getting a Lego Mini-figs ($3) but we’re having half the kids from last year.
    Honestly, I wouldn’t be upset if the boys didn’t get a goodie bag at a party, and sometimes, I would rather not get the dollar store junk that comes home. I think it’s a nice gesture, but not a party requirement.

    • Oooh, balloons, I wonder if that was the parents way of getting them out of the house (and something I totally need to do next time!)

      I don’t want to give (or get) the dollar store junk either so that’s definitely a part of why I don’t do them. Glad to know I am not alone!

    • Totally understandable, I think everyone is different, but Pinterest is a huge player on people thinking they have to DO ALL THE THINGS! SO annoying.

  4. I cringe with extreme gift bags too. I think it all depends on the age and what you did for the birthday party. For little ones a helium balloon is AWESOME! For older kids, the opportunity to play at a jump house place or swim party is good enough (IMHO).

    • I agree! B takes an art class and they have birthday parties there as well, and I think that’d be a fun kids party. Plus no cleanup!

  5. I always got a gift bag at birthday parties when I was a kid, or as I call them goodie bags. I don’t remember ever NOT getting one! Honestly after the cake (ha) the goodie bag was always my favorite part of the party. I feel like the concept started because kids get all upset that they aren’t getting presents when the birthday boy/girl opens them. I was recently asked to bring an extra present to a birthday party to give to the birthday girl’s cousin. That is where I draw the line and I outright refused! A goodie bag is one thing, all the kids get them while they’re leaving, but to bring a present for another kid just so the other kid doesn’t get upset that the birthday kid gets presents, that is not the way to raise kids in my opinion.
    I think goodie bags are cute and fun but also shouldn’t be worth more than a few bucks per bag. And they by all means should not be something expected.

    • THAT IS ABSURD. I mean come on, it is the kids birthday and they should be celebrated. We have twins in the family so I always get them separate gifts (but not the same gift, if that makes sense), because the family usually gets two of everything, and that would drive me crazy.

      I usually candy from a pinata and a temporary tattoo, but nothing else.

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