Some more, please: Unpack the party pack

2011-02-23 12:48

It’s birthday party season in my toddler’s world and I am trying to work out who the hell gave out the first party pack.

It’s bizarre to be given a present for attending a party.

Conversely, it’s just daft to give out presents to people for coming to your house to eat your food and enjoy your entertainment.

But from the point of view of the floggers of endless amounts of tat from China’s bargain basement toy factories and those who make disgusting sugary sweets, it’s marketing genius.

What better way to get your turnover up?

While I was still childless, I watched quizzically as my sister-in-law rushed around, madly stuffing cheap and nasty plastic toys into little bags with Disney branding.

Then she topped them up with sweets she wouldn’t let my niece eat.

When she explained that you had to give a party pack to every child who’d come to your party because other mothers did it, I laughed out loud.

What kind of topsy turvy logic is that? What kind of message does that send to children?

That you must never do anything for nothing?

That getting stuff is what’s important, not playing with your friends?

So when I threw a small party for my toddler’s second birthday I simply ignored the party pack pressure.

My wonderful husband, though, had a brainwave and stepped out to buy paper windmills, which he used to decorate the garden – we gave each child one of these to take home.

Just as well as one of my more party seasoned nieces asked where her party pack was, when she was handed the windmill she looked pleased – but that might just be good manners on her part. She’ll learn through the years to expect nothing more.

As for all the party packs the toddler’s been given so far – the toys barely last the car trip home and I confiscate all the sugar, salt and MSG long before we even get into the car.

As for the future, I won’t be bowing to the pressure simply because it goes against everything we are supposed to be teaching our children – recycle, reuse and don’t buy indiscriminately.

Besides, we attend our friends’ parties because we love them and want to celebrate life with them, and not because we might get stuff to take home.

Leave that shallow consumerism to the corporates and celebrities…

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