Monday, March 03, 2014

The politics of party bags


We are in the middle of the party season for young sir's school friends. Within a week we've had two parties. One soft play and one sports hall & entertainer-affair. Lots of fun for him and lots of sitting around and sipping lukewarm tea for me.

Kids figure out the drill for 'what a birthday party should be like' pretty quickly. Aged six, a veteran of the party season, young sir has very fixed ideas on what constitutes to a good party. Junk food, cake and party bags are the essential ingredients.

On the cake and food front anything goes. Few crisps, couple of cakes and sugary e-numbered liquid to drink and the little people are generally happy. In his party going career, never ever has young sir made a comment or complaint about the quality of food. Occasionally he might notice an impressive birthday cake but never the food. The most amazingly decorated cupcakes with delicate handmade decorations get devoured with the same enthusiasm than basic supermarket cupcakes with a minute blob of icing.

Party bags however are the thing that make or break the party. Party number one last weekend had a nice little party bag with a little puzzle book and few toys. A standard issue party bag...BUT - shock, horror, disaster - there were NO sweeties!!!

'There are NO sweeties mummy! That's not fair, that's not a party bag! They've forgotten to put the sweeties in.' 

Party number two however fulfilled all the expectations of a party bag - it was nothing but sweeties. The heavenly delight of inspecting the contents was tangible. The party bag became a prized possession that had to be hidden in the glove compartment, away from prowling eyes of potential party bag thieves on a quick post party stop to supermarket to buy some milk.

Never mind trying to teach the offspring the value of thankfulness and helping them to understand that there is no obligation for the party giver to send their guests home with party bags. If you are 6 years old party = party bags AND party bags = sweets. There is a strong positive correlation between quality of the party and quantity of sweets in the party bags and unlike crime rate and ice cream sales it is a causal relationship. 

My top tip for anyone throwing a party for under tens - put sweets in the party bag. And if you want to give a party to remember but nothing but sweeties in the party bag.