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I AM the Hollywood Clown

My friend Stacy’s disdain for passing out goody bags at birthday parties was recently brought to my attention via Facebook. She realized that she needs “20 of something” to handout, and being a working mom she doesn’t have a second to shop. Within her status, she received lots of advice from her friends on what to do… and what not to do.

“I stopped doing them! They are a stupid idea!!” Allyson said.

“Hate them. Skip them!!!” stated Christine.

Janice’s advice, “I truly do not think the kids will notice no gift bag. Go for it!”

Yet Darcy added, “My daughter actually cried at a party that did not have them.”

While performing at a birthday party, I once witnessed a pack of children ravenously chanting “Goody bags! Goody bags! Goody bags!” It was like the overly zealous kids from Children Of The Corn on crack. I can honestly say that I don’t remember the exact moment when goody bags became the “norm” at birthday parties. It makes you think, “Who started the whole ‘goody bag’ craze anyway?” Obviously, it wasn’t a working parent.

In Los Angeles, the contents of GB’s from a party can get as competitive as the party itself. The really wealthy clients would have the party planning company provide the GB’s so they didn’t have to think about it. I remember clients that would specifically say, “We would like to have the same goody bags that you handed out at the Spielberg’s party, but better. We’ll pay more, of course.” Well, I’m going to let you all in on a big secret. My bosses would send me to downtown Los Angeles to purchase cheap $1 toys in bulk to stuff into the goody bags for the children of celebrity millionaires.

Have we gotten to the point of no return? Are goody bags expected? Is it a regional/class thing? Thus the question: To goody bag or not to goody bag? Do we teach our children that goody bags are a token of generosity and not a requirement?

My wife loves goody bags. She loves getting them and she loves giving them. But for her getting one is a bonus, not an expectation, and perhaps that is the difference.

In my opinion, the best piece of advice Stacy received was from her friend Dawn: “Give them a book.” And that is what she did. Reading: the gift that gives a lifetime.

I AM The Hollywood Clown