Thank God I only do this once a year

It’s August which means Helena’s birthday is creeping up and while I’ve suffered from short, average and long term memory loss for … let’s see … I can’t remember how long … I never forget her birthday because Helena makes it her mission in life to remind me of this monumental occasion twice a day for the preceding twelve months.

I realize that the confession I am about to reveal may be the thing that finally gets me booted out of the Awesome Mom Society, even more so than when I drew a blank on my eldest daughter’s name and filled in Stretch Marks #1-37 on her swim application, or when I told my youngest that she had to pass a rigorous physical fitness exam including bench pressing four times her weight and running the mile in 1.2 minutes before the Girl Scouts would accept her.

In my defense, I already served out my Girl Scout sentence when I accompanied my eldest and slept on the floors of the zoo and the aquarium and the girl scout center and inhaled enough foot odor to start my own toxic waste dump. The thought of again sleeping on surfaces where bazillions of feet have tread, let alone sleeping anywhere remotely near outdoors where nature could actually come in direct physical contact with me makes my eye twitch.

I have no defense for the swim application other than it was a Monday.

Regardless, I’m going to fess up right here and now and I don’t care what anyone thinks of me because I’m tired of suffering the status quo. I’m coming out of the craft closet and waving my bitch flag high and I’m going to say it, loud and proud: BIRTHDAY TREAT BAGS SUCK.


I said it.

Or rather, I typed it. Out loud.

I loathe treat bags.

See? I did it again.

It’s very cleansing to break free from the crowd and do my own thing. Now I know how streakers feel! Except I’m warmer.

Luckily, Zoe is old enough that she would be mortified at the mere thought of her mom handing out a treat bag at her birthday party.

You know, I could have just stopped that sentence at the word “mom” and it still would have been totally accurate.

But Helena is just turning nine and for the past several years, I have refused to hand out treat bags at her birthday parties. It’s not so much a refusal as it is an all out hissy fit where I’ve been known to stand on my soapbox defending my opinion for so long that I give birth to a varicose vein and put it through medical school.

The closest I will come to a treat bag is an empty plastic bag for the kids to take home the candy they hoarded after bashing the snot out of a piñata.

Why am I such a hard ass about something as inconsequential as treat bags and yet I find nothing wrong with allowing the future of America to beget violence upon a parrot in effigy, beating it until its ass explodes with enough candy to rot their teeth ten times over and cause their brains to ricochet around their heads at the speed of light?

Well, a piñata is a cathartic experience for the kids, a way for them to release their pent up hostility on something other than each other, it improves their hand/eye coordination, and it helps them learn patience and teamwork.


As if.

It’s candy. Need I say more, other than I am a slave to a good Milky Way?

But treat bags? I’ll tell you why I don’t like them. One word and one word only … money. Treat bags are expensive. So is candy I suppose, but once I shove chocolate and caramel into my mouth, I totally forget how much it costs, as well as my name.

I have yet to figure out how to make a treat bag for under $2-3 dollars which means that for a party of 10+ kids, I’m spending over $30 on these things. All so a kid can climb into her mom’s minivan after the party, tear open the bag and play with the crap just long enough to smear the lip balm on her face, rub the body glitter on her arms and legs and give her dog a mani/pedi with the nail polish, before tossing it all aside, only to have it all roll off the seat and down into that sticky and often smelly abyss that is the backseat floor of any vehicle transporting kids, where it will all melt and ooze and subsequently ferment until winter.

The crap, not the kids.

I’d rather spend that $30 on the food, cake, present or the therapy I’m going to need when my kid screams WE NEVER HAD TREAT BAGS, WHAT KIND OF A MONSTER ARE YOU? from the witness stand at my commitment hearing.

Instead of treat bags, I do a craft with the kids and that essentially becomes their “goody bag” so to speak.


Two years ago, at Helena’s seventh birthday party, we did funky flip flops. If I recall correctly, it turned out to be a really fun project as well as educational. For instance, do you know how long it takes for carpel tunnel to set in when you’re cutting 600+ strips of fabric?

I didn’t.

It sets in at strip #5.

Who knew?

If I ever do this project again, I’ll probably outsource the prep work to China and give those kids in the sweatshops something fun to do.


I have my own little sweatshop at home, much to my kids’ dismay.


Last year, we did hydro bracelets because I took a stupid pill one morning and thought it was a good idea.

To be fair, it was a good idea in theory. But in practice? Not so much. We set up each little girl with her own station, complete with measured tubing with a miniature funnel attached, paper cups full of beads and her own little eyedropper for dispensing the water. It should have been easy as pie but the last time I made a pie from scratch, it took fourteen hours and six pounds of flour and tasted like summer armpit so I should have known better.

The reason? Static. Static is not my friend.

Not when it makes my hair praise God, not when it compels a complete stranger at Wegmans to inform me that I might want to visit the ladies room and remove the silk panties clinging to the back of my shirt, not when it causes a flame to shoot from my finger and boomerang into my intestine when I open my car door and especially not when I am trying in vain to pour microscopic beads down a ¼ inch wide piece of tubing when almost immediately two beads decide to stick to the side of the tube, precipitating the inevitable traffic jam of beads at the mouth of the tube, forcing me to repeatedly slam the tube on the patio table to dislodge them while shouting IT’S OK KIDS, HELENA’S MOM HAS GOT IT ALL UNDER CONTROL, none of whom believe me because I am frothing at the mouth and referring to myself in the third person, even though I’m standing right there.



While it appears as if Helena is ready to perform an enema, she’s actually trying to get the beads to fall down her tube.

Madness, I tell you.

We did manage to make all the hydro bracelets but honestly, they were worth neither the effort nor the two paper cups that somehow got knocked over in the fray, spilling their beads into the pool.

It did make for a nice foot massage when we walked in the shallow end for two entire weeks afterward.



These boxes were the best part of the hydro bracelet fiasco. I bought plain white boxes and Helena decorated one box for each of her friends.



I wanted to keep them. They made me happy.



In them, Helena’s friends stored their hydro bracelets, together with all the warm and fuzzy memories of her mom going all whackadoodle and thrashing herself with rubber tubing while crying.

Maybe we should have just scrapped the entire idea of hydro bracelets and just let the girls decorate their own boxes?

But then the boxes would have been empty and served no purpose and it’s no fun being empty and serving no purpose. I know whereof I speak.

So I would have had to fill them. All nine of them. Without dipping into Helena’s college fund.

Which would have meant that I would have had to drive my fanny to the Dollar Store to buy some cheap pieces of crap to fill the boxes, so that they would have purpose.

That would have made them treat boxes.

Which is totally different than treat bags, falling under the category of STUFF THAT GOES TOTALLY AGAINST EVERYTHING I BELIEVE IN UNLESS IT PREVENTS A BRAIN ANEURYSM.

This year, we’re making marble magnets.

I’ll let you know whether or not they fall into that category as well.



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27 thoughts on “Thank God I only do this once a year”

  1. Avatar

    Good god. I’m happy if I manage to make enough food for the parents. The kids, we put them out in the garage where they run around for a couple of hours. It’s all good. =)

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    I too loathe the idea of goodie bags – after all, I live in the loot bag competitive capital of the world! Bless you for doing the beads, I won’t let my Chloe see this post, she’d be all over me to start planning her next birthday, in May 2010!

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    Good Lord, Andrea, you are a saint! I don’t do goody bags and my kids never have more than 2-3 friends over for birthdays. I refuse to do certain things which they find appalling – we have no Wii, we never go to Chucky Cheese, we have never seen American Idol. Yes, they have called me “the meanest mom in the world” – a title I am proud to own.

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    Oh my goodness, you’re a hoot! I don’t do “goody bags” either. I think handing a child filled with crap is pointless. I also don’t “do” friend parties. I think they’re over-done. My kids each got 2. No more, no less. I’m not paying for it. I don’t want to one up “Johnny” who had his party at Legoland and HIS mom paid $24.95 per kid so why can’t I…
    ‘Nuf said? Yup.
    Popping in from SITS to wish you a great day.

  5. Avatar

    With you on the treat bags – I too go down the “road less travelled” of doing a craft which they can take home – usually in a brown paper bag which the kids can decorate when they have finished doing the craft.

    Ideas from my recent past
    Decorated door hangers (either wooden or funky foam)
    Phone charms (a bit of a futter for me!)
    Key rings with their photos in them
    Snow globes with their photos in them (2 birthdays in December)
    Mini albums made from scrapbook paper, card and ribbon – a bit more fiddly (for me!)

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    I’m with you! I get books for all the kids instead of treat bags. I found a place locally where you can get remainder kids books (good titles and authors, too, not no-name junk!) for $1.98 for paperbacks. DONE! 🙂

  7. Avatar

    I wish my DH would let me do a craft instead of freakin happy bags for birthday “TY’s”. The kids would much rather create than get high on their version on none harming sugar high. The legal version of addiction.. sugar.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good candy bar, candy covered apples, chocolate, dots etc.

    Spending $30 for happy bags kills me every year. Last year we only spend like $5.00 total for happy bags. We bought bags, candy, and some little toys at Dollar Tree. yet, I think the kids would have rather not had them.

    Yet, my DH insists that we do it since both kids birthdays are in August and they are two years and 10 days apart.

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    Yep, those parties are bunches of work. But I have to say, now that my teens have outgrown them, the memories are pretty special! (I think tween girls goodie bags are the “funnest.” A bottle of nail polish, some sugarless gum, and a loofah from the dollar store, and they are all smiles.) Stopped by from SITS today.

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    Katy’s party is Saturday and I am SOOO with you on the treat bag cost. That didn’t stop me from doing them, though. For 12 girls. I gave up counting how much money I spent weeks ago. But she is having a tea party, and the bags are going to look like giant tea bags and will be so cute! I hope. I am still waiting on the porcelain tea set I ordered on ebay (and supposedly shipped over a week ago) to show up so each of the girls can have a mini teacup and saucer in their bags. Oh, and we’re doing crafts, too. Cha-ching…

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    So it’s been since I’ve been here. I’ve got lots of reading to do!

    I agree with you, treat bags are full of clutter that keeps the kids’ attention for 5 minutes. And I am guilty of sending that clutter into other people’s homes. I love your crafty ideas! Do boys like to do crafts?

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    Is there no end to your creativity? I just about died when I saw those funky flip flops. Heck, I want some myself! And yes, please do break free from the crowd! I imagine it will be harder though when your kid has to suffer the effects of our “us being us-ness”, but I suspect that they’ll have lots of wonderful memories and stories to tell as they get older. Taking the road less traveled-by does make all the difference.

    P.S. Laughed out loud after the “I could have just stopped at Mom” comment!

  12. Avatar

    LOL!! You deserve mother of the year!! I do my dd would tell you IF I let her see this blog post which I will NOT! LOL! I have to admit Hannah has not had b-day parties with goody bags or even crafts. She HAS done the pinata..that’s about as much as I’m willing to do above and beyond the invites, cake & ice cream and the punch. Although for her 1st b-day she did wear a crown and we had a “luncheon” for about 35 people…ugh that was enough to cure me 😀 LOL! about girl scouts too! Hannah has wanted to join forever but unfortunately (depending how you look at it) there are no troupes locally for her to join!

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    I have my own secret. Not only do I not do goody bags….but I don’t do birthday parties. I quit way back when. Hate them. I’d rather take my kid and a friend or 3 to a movie, to dinner, or spend oodles of $$ on the kids biggest dream present instead. If that makes me a bad mom? So be it 😛

  14. Avatar

    I hate the treat bags too! When I was a kid, there was no such thing. You went to a party and played games, maybe won a small prize, ate your cake, and went home happy.

    Here’s one idea for a treat bag substitute that is perfect for 9-year-old girls. Make layer cakes and give each girl a single layer. Get out several tubs of frosting, some of that gel stuff to write on the icing with, and all kinds of sprinkles. Let them decorate the cakes any way they want and take them home as their party favor. You can get small pizza boxes for the take away, or I got actual cake boxes and let them decorate the boxes too. It was cheap, the girls had the best time I’ve ever seen at a party, I didn’t have to plan any other games because the cake decorating took a long time, and they were thrilled. Sure, I had to sweep sprinkles and non-pareils from every corner of my dining room afterward, but it was worth it!

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    Oh yeah. One of my daughter’s friend’s mom had a brainstorm. Something went wrong with her treat bag plan, so she loaded up the girls in her van, took them to the dollar store, gave them each $3, and let them buy their own treats. Huge hit.

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    Treat bags? Nah, We just break out a bottle of tequila and play drinking games. The kids don’t remember where they left their goody bags that they never got in the first place. The parents just think they ate too much cake and ice cream when they barf all over the car on the way home. And mommy is completely relaxed.
    Just kidding you guys. Jeesh.

  17. Avatar

    Love the craft idea and have done it. You will have to give me the directions to the bracelet/box project. We unfortunately have to parties outside the house due to our current rental situation. So we do do treat bags. But I have scaled down to a small notebook, pen and and candy bar. I think it is less than $2.

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    omg, i’m P’ing my pants here! LOL!!!! and i thought i was just searching for decorated flip flops; i could’ve sworn i typed in for “boys”??? lmao i have a rotary cutter and mat, wonder how many i can cut out before i give the job over to my daughter and daughter in law?? lol

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