Just say NO to loot bags


The story goes a bit like this. A parent decides to throw a party for a child. That parents picks the perfect venue, snacks, entertainment etc. The parent invites other kids to celebrate. Those kids arrive carrying presents or nothing if they are smart and do Echoage. The guests have a wonderful time and when it’s time to leave all the kids in attendance receive a loot bag. Party is over. Now repeat this for umpteen birthdays per child per year.

My So-Called Mommy Life

Instead of beating around the bush, I’m just going to flat-out say it. Why do we give out loot bags? Why? Why? Why?

Since becoming a parent this is one thing that I can’t really wrap my head around. I don’t understand why my kids need to receive a gift after being invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday? Yes, it is so lovely and special that we were able to make it, but we made it! We were able to celebrate with the birthday kid. Why should any kid in attendance receive something for coming to a fun-once-a-year-type party? This got me thinking that the problem is our society. Who decided that kids need to leave a party with a gift? Why is it that are kids need to be given a reward (which the loot bag totally is) for coming to celebrate with a friend! A Friend! These types of interactions should be free and our kids should never come to expect it. Our kids should learn the feeling of giving to others without expecting anything in return.

Each and every party I’ve been to, I’ve seen children who ask for and feel entitled to receive a loot bag. Heck, Princess Peach once asked the host and after being totally mortified, I had to explain that we don’t go to parties to receive loot bags, we go to celebrate with our friends.

We’ve been to a variety of parties from the park to a fancy venue and often the loot bags are the same dollar store items. Parents, please keep your dollar store crap to yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dollar store, but a bag full of junk isn’t exactly what I want in my house or my kids need to play with. I get that everyone wants to keep up with those Pinterest moms, but sending my kid home with junk that you won’t even feed your kid or toys that will break into a million pieces 5 minutes after they’ve played with it is ridiculous.

Another reason I don’t get loot bags is the cost associated with them. Instead of one dollar store piece of junk, you are filling a bag with $5 worth of junk. No, no, no, no. Sorry. Don’t spend that type of money on my kid. Again, it goes with my reason above. If i buy your kid a $25 gift, don’t spend 1/5 of what I spent on you, to thank them for coming. Save your money!

Can’t we all just agree that its enough with loot bags! Let’s teach kids about making the birthday child feel good by being there to celebrate with them. After all, that’s the point of a birthday party! Not, what the attendees are leaving with.


  1. Tracey says:

    Love your honesty! Definitely made me look at loot bags with a different lense.

    • mscmommylife says:

      Thanks Tracey! I know kids really love receiving them, but if we all just said No to loot bags, there would never be that expectation at the end of a great party

  2. Well you know what I think of all these birthday parties, way too over the top for me! A cake, friends and family around, that’s what it should be about…

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for saying this publicly

  4. Laura says:

    Great advice. The kids that receive loot bags often spend 5 minutes looking at the items and then much of this stuff gets into landfill. When is this custom going to stop?

  5. Ann says:

    No to loot bags which are always full,of cheap junk which ends up broken and in the bin. Slice of cake would be nicer

    • mscmommylife says:

      I’ve been to parties where they give out personalized cookies as a loot bag. A slice of cake is usually included during the party

  6. Natalie says:

    Amen. Every time a see candy in a loot bag (which is more often than one would assume), I throw out the loot bag and my kids never even see it.

  7. Branco Karan says:

    being an immigrant I do not question “why do we need loot bags”.
    But WE CHOOSE what goes in the loot bags on the parties we are throwing.

    • mscmommylife says:

      Of course we choose what goes in the loot bags, but they shouldn’t be necessary or expected to begin with.

  8. Pauline Hodge says:

    Renee, I am so glad to see your comments. I used to hate having to create loot bags for each of my three kids when they were having birthday parties. It would be great to see the custom disappear. Thanks for suggesting an end to this waste of time and money!!!

  9. Diane says:

    I totally agree!! Loot bags for birthdays, Easter, Christmas, with Valentine’s cards… The list goes on…

  10. Carmi says:

    Agree 100%!! I often had the kids make a craft at our BD parties, which they then took home!

  11. dadarren says:

    YES! Party loot/gift bags are full of cheap, poorly made, often toxic-carrying plastic junk that ends up in a garbage & a landfill within hours/days of being given.
    It’s scary to think that the plastic junk I was given as a child is still sitting in a landfill 30 years later.
    As others have commented: we can definitely give eco-friendly party gifts which might set a precedent for others.

    • mscmommylife says:

      I appreciate your comment! It is crazy to think of all these junky toys sitting in a landfill!

  12. Marta says:

    And it’s not like they’re not getting anything — all the food, cake, games, entertainment — the guests get all that on top of celebrating with their friend, so why do they need to be “paid” for that?

    • mscmommylife says:

      Exactly Marta! The entertainment, food etc and celebrating a special day with a friend should be enough!

  13. Loot bags are a scourge on society. As a mother of two little girls, I’m going to END the loot bags and start send home something useful…like instructions on how to change the toilet paper roll.

  14. Cat says:

    It’s the same with weddings and baptisms, people expect their gifts there also. Its just a tradition that people have been doing for yrs. some people do it and some dont, i think its up to the person who is throwing the party!

    • mscmommylife says:

      Every party I go to sends home a loot bag. I think societal pressure makes parents feel like they have to give a loot bag even if they don’t want too.

  15. Sara says:

    I agree with you! I am still guilty of giving them but I am not doing the dollar store crap. For the past few parties I’ve taken that $5 or more amount and got something more practical – reuse let snack bags, I got my son and his friends the contigo water bottles from Costco one year as they were about to start school, reusable freezie cozies etc
    But I do agree why do we do them? It’s a huge waste of time, $ and energy

    • mscmommylife says:

      I agree that practical loot bags are better but they tend to be way more costly. I love the idea about water bottles etc but why do we have to do them all together? Let’s just say NO 🙂

  16. Vanessa says:

    I know I won’t be popular with my opinion. When did birthday parties and things associated with them become such a fuss? My kids have yet to complain about getting a loot bag. I don’t ever recall getting a loot bag at a party and complaining about it either. While I DO tell my kids to not expect any items at the end of a party, why is this such an issue if you get one? If I find it’s something my child won’t use then I just add it to our donation bag. No big deal. Sometimes I add them to a bin on top of the fridge for rainy days or long car rides and some of this “junk” really comes in handy. You’d be amazed how amazing that air horn is when a door to door salesperson drops by. Maybe I need 10 minutes to get something extra done and that loot bag junk bought me some extra time. I refuse to ask my party guests make a monetary donation to some cause instead. We donate personally and professionally all year round. I even say presents are optional. I just want friends there for some fun and they’re getting a darn loot bag whether the parents want it or not.

    • mscmommylife says:

      Thanks for your comment Vanessa! You are right, sometimes the “junk” may come in handy, but it adds up especially when you have two kids attending multiple parties in a weekend over a few weekends. And often it breaks or doesn’t work etc.

    • Seehenapost says:

      Totally agree!! I loved loot bags as a kid, and at my birthday parties there will always be loot bags! I try to make it useful and fun and not garbage. I keep an eye out for cool clearance items through the year. I love putting them together.

  17. Hi my name is Kathy and I’m the owner of the local Ottawa business, the loot bag lady : )

    My mission is to offer funky, quality, unique loot bags for kid’s parties. My loot bags are creative and filled with items that can actually be used. I was sad to see all of the negative comments about loot bags. It has been my experience that the offering up of a small gift at the end of a party is often a highlight for the birthday girl or boy. Thanks for listening.

  18. Lisa says:

    This is definitely a first world problem…

  19. I love this so so much! I’m 100% in agreement with you. Like your daughter, my 3 year old daughter recently asked a host where her loot bag was, and I was beyond mortified too. It’s not okay to come to expect a present for attending a friend’s birthday party. I teach high school, and I see the sense of entitlement kids are growing up with these days. They think everything should be handed to them on a silver platter and that extrinsic rewards are everything. So needless to say, I’ve made it my parenting mission to ensure my children are not like that. I felt like I failed a little when I started noticing my daughter ask for things that shouldn’t always be coming to her. We’re working on that…

  20. Vanessa says:

    When I was a kid I always looked forward to giving my friends a loot bag at my party. I’ve always – & will continue to see them – as an opportunity to teach the birthday boy or girl how great it can be to share in the fun/give back/say thank you. And boil it right down, sure it’s usually junk that we as adults can’t stand, but kids are kids for such a short period of time. Most of the kids I know love getting them. Can’t we just let them have it for these few short years?

  21. acolesk says:

    If you REALLY want to give a treat to the kids attending a party, make it an actual treat. Give out something they probably want: a small book, a Lego minifig, a beanie boo. I’m not that against my kid getting a treat, I’m against crap I throw out after picking it up off the floor a few times.

    • mscmommylife says:

      Thanks! Last week we attended a party and they gave out books as the loot bag. My kids loved it and read them right away.


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  2. […] two who runs the website My So Called Mommy Life, penned a piece earlier this month called “Just say NO to loot bags,” in which she tells parents to “keep your dollar store crap to […]

  3. […] Kaiman, the Canadian blogger behind My So-Called Mommy Life, was the brave mum who called for parents to stop this nonsense of handing out party […]

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