Goodbye Party Bags, You’re No Friend Of Mine


Parties are one of my four-year-old’s FAVOURITE things. Getting dressed up (or you know, choosing which Disney costume to wear), writing the birthday card, wrapping the present, running around with friends, eating cake, playing games, bringing home a bag of plastic tat…



The bag of plastic tat. This is where my daughter and I have differing opinions. She loves a party bag. I hate them. Does that make me a massive killjoy?

But seriously, 99% of party bags are filled with toys that give five minutes of fun and then get dumped in a drawer and forgotten about, perhaps blowing bubbles which get spilled all over a party frock or the kitchen floor, and often a variety of sugary sweets from Haribo to popping candy.

I have no real issue with the sweets – aside from the fact that after a birthday party, the last thing any kid usually needs is more sugar. It’s the plastic. The tat! My house is drowning in tat. We have clever IKEA drawers which we bought to store toys, but they’re just filled with party bag contents. Played with for five minutes, forgotten about for five months.

I know what you’re thinking. I just need to get a black bin bag and do a clear out, while the four-year-old isn’t around.

But did I mention I’m also a hoarder?

I have a real issue throwing stuff away. My thought process goes something like this: “Right, I’m doing a clear out. Everything that hasn’t been played with in six months is OUT. Here goes. Oh, but what if this is the one toy she really wants to play with, this weekend? And she asks for it. And I have to admit I’ve chucked it. Maybe I could lie and say I don’t know where it is. Oh, maybe I’ll just leave all this stuff for her to play with. The minimal look in homes is so overrated.”

I think what upsets me the most about party bags is knowing how much money and effort goes into them. The four-year-old is soon to become the five-year-old and I’m in the throes of planning her party. The church hall is booked, the paper plates are on order and I’m trying to decide whether to bother doing cheese sarnies or just go for Nutella to ensure all kids actually eat one.

Then I get to the party bag organisation. Plastic tat ain’t cheap, you know. Even shopping wisely and going to Tesco or Wilko’s means spending 25p per piece of plastic tat. Times that by five, add in the cost of the party bag itself, buy enough for 30 kids and you’re already £40 down. £40 on tat that will probably get chucked as soon as the child gets home.

So I’m stopping the madness.

This is where it ends.

I’ve decided that each child that comes to this party will leave with a slice of cake and a book. A book bought in a ten for £9.99 deal from The Book People. Yes, there’s a risk I might give a child a book they already own, but as a parent would you rather be given a book you already have (options: keep one at the grandparents’ house, or regift it) or be given a bag of plastic tat?

Am I a huge killjoy who misses the point of party bags or the instigator of a revolution that will sweep the nation? Vote now.

Image: Shutterstock



  1. August 2, 2015 / 8:46 pm

    this post made me laugh as we have been packing to move this weekend and despite not yet having children, my husband and I have had many a discussion about throwing out tat! I think a book is a brilliant idea xx

  2. August 2, 2015 / 8:46 pm

    I am so with you on this one! I can’t stand the tat itself but actually I hate how wasteful it all is. We’ve had a few parties where they have given books as a gift and I think it is the best idea ever. At the last party my daughter went to they didn’t do party bags at all they just brought home a cupcake that they had decorated themselves. Entertainment and an edible gift. Another good idea!

  3. August 2, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    Haha, totally with you on that one! Those silly plastic parachute men started ruling the house:/ I gave up and now just make up a pretty bag with ribbon with a tonne of sweets. Not very pc, but little people always look very happy!

  4. August 2, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    Haha, totally with you on that one! Those silly plastic parachute men started ruling the house:/ I gave up and now just make up a pretty bag with ribbon with a tonne of sweets. Not very pc, but little people always look very happy!

  5. August 2, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    Yes! Down with the plastic tat! Let the revolution begin! You get points for throwing a party though – I’m ashamed to say that although I work with young children and have two of my own I can’t abide kids parties and go to all lengths of bribery and corruption to pacify my girls with alternatives to all the screaming and post party clean up! 🙂

  6. August 2, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    Haha I am so the opposite of a hoarder and bin anything in sight daily that I don’t like the look of! Books are a fab idea though, the last few parties we’ve been to have done it and it’s even better if it’s one they do own as you can save it to give to the next person for their birthday present!! x

  7. August 2, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    Aaaah… The plastic tat. As kids we had a specific box called “The tat box” where all that rubbish got hoarded. I have no idea why we didn’t throw it out. Interestingly though, of the six parties we’ve been to recently, four have included a book in the party bag. We really appreciated them (and we’re lucky that none have been ones we already have) so I think you are on to what could well be the future! And nevermind just receiving a book, I’d rather spend £40 on books than on tat!

  8. August 2, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    Absolutely – although…I do do party bags but the last ones had crayons (from the pound shop) and stickers. Thankfully only a dozen and split with two other muns.

  9. August 2, 2015 / 10:19 pm

    I know a lot of people that do this and it’s a great idea! x

  10. August 2, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    Nope, I hate them too. For E’s Frozen themed birthday party I gave out a personalised packet of wildflower seeds with ‘let it grow’ on them! And my sister handed out strawberry plants labelled with ‘grow me’ for my niece’s Wonderland tea party. So much nicer than the plastic tat!

  11. August 2, 2015 / 10:37 pm

    This is EXACTLY why I started to have build a bear parties for Grace – best party bags EVER. Far better than those stupid bits of tat!!

  12. August 3, 2015 / 6:40 am

    I always give books! Its the best way. With you on the tat xx

  13. August 3, 2015 / 7:24 am

    And whyyyy is it always noisy tat? There’s always some crazy whistle in there and I’m always convinced the parent must really hate us. A book is a brilliant idea!

  14. August 3, 2015 / 7:52 am

    I make and sell handmade hair clips. Perfect as party bag favours. (Not sure little boys would be too keen but little girls LOVE them. I offer special deals depending on quantity required. The really do make a lovely, useful gift they will want to keep x

  15. August 3, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    I’m so with you on the tat, but I have to confess, as soon as that tat stops being played with, generally 3 days later, it’s gone. Love the book idea, I’ve yet to host a party yet, but as my twins are soon turning 4 I’m sure one will be happening very soon.

  16. August 3, 2015 / 11:13 pm

    The book idea is fab. So far I’ve got away with no doing party bags. However my son turns 5 next month and is making his requests known. We’ve been to sooo many parties and the kids expect party bags now! I’ve never understood putting cake in party bags…when I see cake at a party I want to eat it…not wait till I get home!

  17. August 4, 2015 / 6:49 am

    I hear you Alison – I am no fan of them either, although my kids of course love them. I’ve even noticed some mums going to the trouble of putting age and gender related items in the bags, which only leads to arguments as one child has something the other doesn’t and in turn must of cost a fortune. Five minutes after most of it ends up broken anyway. I’m with you though, I ditched them at my daughter’s last party in favour of sweet cones – although books is a fantastic idea. They’ll last much longer, and like, if you say they already have it they’ve got a spare or can pass it on. Great post – and great idea.

  18. lesley
    August 7, 2015 / 9:45 pm

    I did disney books from the bookpeople for my 3 year olds birthday party still used a party bag and put in a balloon, a bag of haribo and slice of cake 🙂

  19. August 23, 2015 / 10:07 pm

    I can’t stand the plastic tat either but also really don’t like to toss stuff out. Books are a great idea – I think I might do that for my son’s next party!

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