What is it with lolly bags?! Kids love them, parents loathe them. Well most parents! Before we unpack the contents of those sweet little bags let's consider why they are given...habit? tradition? because it is expected? as a thank you? Possibly a little bit of each reason. But surely there are other ways to say thank you and if you like the lolly tradition surely the bags don't have to be so big and full. Personally I love it when no lolly bags are handed out, it is rare but it does happen.
On Sunday our boys River and Sol were invited to a fourth birthday party, the son of a close friend. My husband Pete phoned our friend and asked in his usual direct manner, "Will you be handing out bags of poison at the party today?" The answer as expected was "Yes". "I'd prefer River and Sol didn't get one, can you give them something else?" A box of sultanas was the agreed alternative.
Now this is where Pete and I disagree. Sultanas are still 'sugary', they are a concentrated form of fructose and lolly bags are the absolute only time that River and Sol ever see lollies, we never buy them. Ever. Not even their sweet loving grandparents are allowed to supply them with lollies. So, I wouldn't have actually minded if they were given the lolly bags and then I could have rationed out the contents.
River overheard the conversation Pete had with our friend. Tears ensued, "You are so mean dad. That is so unfair, all the other kids get lollies and we get sultanas". "I'm not doing it to be mean," Pete tried to explain, "I'm doing it because I care about you and don't want you to eat all that sugar". That is not how it felt to seven year old River.
The boys and I went to the party and Pete went off to photograph a wedding. I was dreading the end of the party before we had even arrived. At the party, two tables were set with chicken sandwiches, zucchini slice, fruit salad and sausage rolls - not a piece of sugary food in sight.
The children ran about and played in the sun while the adults stood by chatting. "How do you handle the lolly bag thing?" I asked one mum. "I take them off my children straight after the party, they can eat a couple of lollies and then I keep the bags in a cupboard and when they forget about them I throw them out," she told me.
Time for the pinata. It was a cleverly designed pinata, no stick and blindfold instead there was an array of ribbons hanging from the bottom looking like streamers, each child took it in turns to pull one ribbon until 'jackpot!' the bottom fell out and so did the lollies. There was a scramble as handfuls of lolly snakes, jubes, jelly babies and mini chocolate bars were grabbed and later shared with smaller children who were not as experienced being in a pinata lolly scrum.
Next up were the cakes. Yes plural. There were two birthday cakes plus cupcakes. Sol true to form ate the icing off the top and gave me the plain cake. River skipped having cake and opted to get back to running around with his friends.
Fifteen minutes before the party was due to end a friend came running up to me beaming, "Yes! I've got them out (her two children) without lolly bags we're leaving now and they haven't even asked for them. Bye!" It was as if she had achieved a minor miracle. I was uncharacteristically jealous.
We stayed for a game of pass the parcel. Our departure could not be delayed any longer. The sighting by River and Sol of other children with lolly bags was inevitable. "Mum can we have a lolly bag?" they asked. "C'mon let's go I have your lolly bags" I replied. We starting heading for the door, after a bit more asking I handed over their custom filled 'lolly' bags. Outside the party venue River asked his friend is he could see inside his bag, his friend had lollies, River had a box of sultanas and a packet of sesame snaps (very sweet honey sesame 'biscuits). I haven't worked it out exactly but I am sure the sugar content of both bags would have been on par.
After some sulking River got in the car and we headed home. "Dad's mean", he uttered a few times. I reminded both River and Sol about the lollies they had eaten out of the pinata. Neither of them ate the sultanas, River took one bit of the sesame snap and decided he didn't like it, Sol didn't even want to try it.
I feel like banning lollies makes them more attractive and I don't really think a bag of sultanas is all that much better. Having said that, River and Sol ate lollies at the party and didn't need a bag of them to take home and didn't eat the sultanas anyway.
I'd love it if we could all take a united front and skip handing out lollies at the end of a party. One great idea I heard was a party where children were given a punnet of strawberry seedlings to take home to plant. Now that's my kind of party.
What are your thoughts? Am I being a party pooper? Or are you over the lolly fest too? Love to hear how you handle kids birthday party lolly bags in your family. Share in the comments.