Having children has never been more expensive. In addition to paying for adorable but expensive little music lessons, adorable but expensive little day care, and adorable but expensive little tutoring to ensure that the kid will one day have a chance of attending adorable but expensive college, a new expense has been heaped onto already-strained parents: elaborate, over-the-top goodie bags that parents of attendees at your adorable, expensive kid's birthday party have come to expect — nay, demand. And some strapped parents are calling for an end to the madness.
The backlash against outlandish child birthday gift bags is detailed in the sort of New York Times article you can't help but think was deliberately showcased in the paper in order to convince people from the Midwest that they shouldn't move to New York.
Apparently, it is now Officially A Thing for parents hosting birthday parties for their children to shower attendees with fancy tokens of their appreciation. And we're not talking the little trinkets dispersed to youth of the 80's and 90's like branded Little Mermaid erasers, those little bird toys that make chirping sounds when they sit on your hand, or noisemakers the perfect size and noise output to drive your parents to the brink of insanity. No, nowadays, parents expect that junior will mince out of the neighbor kid's birthday soiree with something a little bit classier. Writes the Times,
But the cheap stuff (scented erasers, candy, nail polish, stickers and temporary tattoos) can be equally offensive to parents trying to teach ecological consciousness or simply cutting down on clutter. Ms. Roles spoke disdainfully of what she called "garbage directly from Oriental Trading," referring to a Web site that specializes in goody-bag fillers.
"I don't want to give bags full of plastic from China and teach kids to be little consumers," she said.
But host parents are struggling to find a balance between the cheap plastic junk that gets lost under car seats and in siblings' ear canals and gifts that go to far. According to some parents, children hosting birthday parties occasionally send attendees home with such lavish articles as American Girl dolls and Knicks tickets, and the party attendee's parents are forced to face the embarrassment that comes with seeing their child bring a better gift home from the party than the one they gave. Where's the happy medium here? How can we possibly address this non-crisis before society collapses under its weight?
As with most Rich Parent Pissing Contest Emergencies, there's no easy solution. Some party planners who specialize in children's birthday parties suggest giving only a small gift that relates to the theme of the party, or skipping the goodie bag entirely. Some parents give coupons for free ice cream or matching tee shirts or balloon animals instead of things like Spongebob Squarepants child-sized helicopters or Harry Winston Hello Kitty brooches or whatever they're currently giving. But if they really wanted to make kids happy, they'd simply distribute rolls of bubble wrap as kids left the soiree.
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