Don’t do me any favors

This is my official public appeal:

Please can we do away with party favors?

This week I cleaned out 4 bags of chips, 5 transferrable tattoos, 2 pencils, 6 brightly colored erasers, 3 small containers of bubbles (none of which really work), and a handful of candies-my-kids-don’t-eat. All relics from this summers’ birthday parties, with the obligatory “party favor” bag hastily pressed into our hands on departure.

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Somewhere in my closet, among the boxes of things serious, sentimental and seriously sentimental, I also have a box of unused wedding favors from our own wedding. Over the years, whenever my husband and I have debriefed our wedding, we laugh about those favors. They cost extra time, extra money, and a whole lot of extra stress. They were the one thing that we felt our wedding day could have done without, and nothing would have been lost. In fact, ten bucks for any of our guests who can even remember what our wedding favors were. (To my bridesmaids who sat for hours bundling them, you only get gold stars if you can recall. But they are very shiny stars.)

Now wedding favors might serve a few purposes: 1) they might serve to thank people for coming (but we do that verbally, and in any case it is an honor to be invited to a wedding!) 2) in years past, they could give the couples’ new contact information (but these days, aren’t we all about gravatars and facebook anyway?) 3) They might form part of the table decorations (Ok. I’ll grant that’s one way of making things look pretty).

Perhaps a couple might WANT to do wedding favors, (and more power to them to make it the wedding of their dreams), but to those couples who feel they HAVE to do wedding favors, and to those Moms who feel they OUGHT to do party favors for kids, let me say this:

I don’t think we should have party favors, and I’m not just saying this because I am deathly afraid of Pinterest.

We go to parties to celebrate life events with people we love. It is a privilege to attend. Witnessing milestones and being counted as witnesses of babies being born, years well lived or new families started are tremendous honors.

A bag of treats is no substitute for teaching our children to look their guests in the eye and say “thank you for coming to my party”. And those bags of treats may not have been very expensive, but it is still wasteful to waste – even if it was only $25. Twenty five bucks can pay for 500 malnourished kids to be dewormed. It can provide a simple handwashing tap in a village and keep life-threatening diseases at bay.

Our twenty five bucks can do so very much good in the world, all while saving parents from another day’s whining for leftover candy.

So would you do me a favor? Please forgive me if we don’t do party favors. And know I’ll love you just the same (perhaps even more), if you forego them too.