Do us a (party) favour!

My younger daughter’s birthday is fast approaching and once again I find myself brooding about how bonkers the concept of party favours is. Last year, instead of dishing out the usual bags of plastic tut and sweets, I did a lucky dip. Well, lucky for me at any rate: I filled a pillowcase with recycled toys and nik-naks that had been clogging up our house for the last couple of years. My daughters even helped me wrap each item up. Genius! I had de-cluttered the house and created party favours in one fell swoop, without spending a penny. Of course, after the party my daughter tore open her 12 or so presents and we were back to square one. Another tidal wave of stuff…

I asked my book group recently what their views were on party bags and presents, and there were quite a few different opinions. Some said they really enjoyed putting party bags together, others thought of them as bags of crap that ended up in landfill and should be banned. But everyone conformed to putting together some kind of party favour, even if they didn’t agree with it in principle. Why? Because none of us wanted to be judged ‘tight’! The same was true of buying birthday presents for other kids. It turns out we all had a budget that we thought was acceptable. No one spent less than £5. Some spent around £10 – which is quite a lot if you have two or more children who each get invited to lots of parties throughout the year. Of course, as young children don’t have any understanding of what things cost, the price tag is irrelevant to them. Once again it seemed none of us wanted to be deemed tight by other parents! 

However, a couple of weeks ago, a mum I know went against the grain. On the back of the party invitation my eldest daughter received, it said: ‘No presents, please, unless you wish to recycle something.’ Did I think she was tight? On the contrary, I thought she was brilliant.