I don't want them to think that gift-giving means you can expect to get something in return.
For my kids, birthday parties are just about the most exciting things that happen aside from Christmas. And of course, what's better than spending time with friends, eating cake, and setting aside a day to celebrate life? Not much.
Over the years, I've seen more and more parents plan elaborately themed birthday parties that included Pinterest-worthy decorations and crafty little gifts for each little guest. The kids who attended loved having something to take home and play with of their own. After all, they've just sat and watched someone else open presents, and it's hard not to be jealous.
But if I had it my way, my kids wouldn't receive goodie bags at a birthday party. I'm not trying to be a mean mom — and certainly not an ungrateful guest — but it's actually healthy for my kids to experience a day that's completely focused on someone else's happiness.
I don't want them to go to birthday parties wondering what loot they'll be taking home. I don't want them to think that gift-giving means you can expect to get something in return.
I want my children to develop the ability to put someone else's happiness above their own. Not that I want them to always put themselves last but there's a time to nurture yourself, and there's a time to nurture someone else.
I want them to learn how to give with no-strings attached and with no expectations of what they might receive in return. Yes, when you give, you often receive. But sometimes, you don't. And it's important to me that my children be very okay with the idea of giving merely for the sake of giving.
Your kid's birthday party is the perfect training ground for me to teach them just that lesson. However, if you've decided to include goodie bags in the festivities, it's an opportunity lost.
And yes, I do understand that in giving presents to your guests, you might be trying to teach your child a lesson about humility or showing gratitude. But I wonder if a better lesson might be just how to say a sincere "thank you," or even how to gracefully handle attention without needing to divert it to somebody else.
No matter how you decide to do your kid's birthday party, I'm sure you'll do what you think is best for everyone involved. But as far as I'm concerned, if you don't take the time to tie tiny little ribbons on tiny little bags full of tiny little keepsakes for your guests, I'll be relieved.
For this one day, it's OK if the world revolves around your child.