GIFT BAG OR GIFT? BAG.

When exactly did “gift bags” at birthday parties become vogue? I was first introduced to the concept November 2002 when XBoy was invited to his favorite play-date’s First Birthday Party. The grandmother had put together quite the little swag bag, complete with candy, a Hot Wheels car, and some other do-das little boy-like in nature. I just figured it was an anomaly as the boy’s grandmother was a bit of a Martha Stewart.

It was a couple years later that I realized I was the stingy whore-mom on the proverbial play-date block. Not that anyone used those words specifically, to my face, but well, you know how nazi-moms can be when one doesn’t goosestep in cadence with the rest.

Since then, I’ve dutifully put together gift bags that may or may not included the cupcake our little guest had licked the icing off of, a handful of pennies, and an abandoned Happy Meal toy, all stuffed in a mateless sock and tied off with some butcher string. Hey, I never said I planned ahead for these things, just that I was able to send a gift bag home with the little whiners who may, or may not have, peed all over the toilet seat and disposed of a booger on the light switch panel (yes, really).

I went against the norm on XBoy’s 7th birthday party this past December. Per XBoy, he wanted a bowling party. The local bowling alley has quite a racket going with this idea. Two to three lanes are reserved for two bowling rounds; pizza and soda is prepared; plates and cups are provided. All a parent has to do is bring dessert, if they so desire. All for a mere $140.

My son did notice that I had not prepared treat bags and asked me about it. I told him that I thought a couple hours of bowling, pizza, soda and cake was more than enough.

 A couple weeks later, XBoy was invited to a birthday/bowling party. I received confirmation that I was a tight-wad when XBoy’s gift bag contained nothing other than a collectible diecast 1:25 scale NASCAR car (granted, dad worked for a company that probably got them as a promotional item – but still). What the hell?

Sometime between 1980 and 2002, party protocols have changed and I want to know what and who instigated this ridiculousness which is basically an incentive for attending a party. Have parents become so busy or preoccupied with their lives that the only way they’ll let little Johnny attend a birthday party is if he gets something in return other than a frosting stained shirt and a tummy-ache at midnight? It’s not right, and I’m not going to take it anymore! No gift bags for your sugar-buzzed, yard apes from this moment forward! Who’s with me?!