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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: The thought that counts

Posted April 3, 2011

I recently attended a birthday party with my daughters . The little girl was turning six, and while she played mostly with my 7-year-old, we are friends with the entire family, so both of my children were invited to attend.

It was held at a bowling alley which provided lots of amusement as the kids intermittently dropped, rolled, and pushed the balls down the lane - basically they did everything but kick them. After the snacks and cake, it was time to put out the goodie bags.

"Let me be very clear, " my friend said, "I hate doing these. I don't know why I did it."

Believe me, I feel her pain. I have written about my distaste for goodie bags on more than one occasion. Basically, you are handing parents what amounts to kryptonite - a bag full of sugar and junk that will eventually be spread throughout your house. Not to mention that the purchasing and stuffing of the junk into the bags is another nightmare altogether. I gave them up years ago. OK, so I did do that sand bucket thing last year, but like my friend, it was a momentary lapse of reason that I regretted almost as soon as I committed to it.

As my friend handed me the bag for my youngest daughter she said, "Make sure you look inside the bag, the thank you note is in there. I hate writing those almost as much as I hate goodie bags, so I decided to get them out of the way."

Sure enough, inside was a sweet, generic card signed by her daughter thanking us for "the gift" and for coming to the party. Brilliant.

For the first time in a long time, I was floored by another mother's ingenuity and overcoming one of the most tedious tasks in parenting. I couldn't wait to share this idea with everyone I encountered. My only regret was that I didn't find out about this earlier.

But of course, now the million dollar question is: Do I still do the goodie bags to act as a carrier of the thank you note?

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • QT3.14 Apr 5, 2011

    Wow, okay. Pre-printed generic thank you notes?! Next, let's talk about why kids are ungrateful and have no manners or social skills as adults. We can pretend the two topics are unrelated if you prefer.

  • knockitoff Apr 5, 2011

    oh and they hand wrote their thank yous after the party, we either handed them to the attendees another day or mailed them. But that was a personal choice to have the children be polite and grateful for what they did receive and show it. To this kids and their friends in other states still talk about that on facebeook and they are all adults. - soooo in my carries on!

  • knockitoff Apr 5, 2011

    When my kids were smaller, I gave personalized notebooks(spiral - cheap at back to school sales)with a decorative pack of pencils or a Coloring book with crayons tied to the pad as a thank you. No candy and the kids loved it as much! As they got older I got more creative and did visors, tshirts etc. You can spend as much or as Little as you wish..but honestly by the time you buy all the "junk" the cost is about the same to get something more "useful".

  • kittiboo Apr 4, 2011

    My rule on thank you notes is: if the gift is opened in front of the giver, and thank you is said in person (as it should be), no thank note is sent. It seems redundant. If the gift is received in the mail, or not opened at the party/event, then send a thank you note.

  • mindyvowell Apr 4, 2011

    I always enjoyed having a birthday party for my son, getting creative with a "thank you" gift/goodie bag and having him write his own "thank you" cards after receiving the gifts. As you are planning that party or filling those goodie bags, maybe think of the many women who have a great desire for children and are facing infertility or those, like myself, who struggled for years and never knew if I would ever have the opportunity to be a "Mom". I feel very blessed when I think about the little things I may have missed out on.

  • abc321 Apr 4, 2011

    For the time that someone spends working to get the $ to buy a present, going out to buy the present, coming home & wrapping the present, and then spending their Saturday at my kid's party, the LEAST I can do is spend 3 minutes and a stamp on a heartfelt, sincere thank you note.

  • suzannah Apr 4, 2011

    You have got to be putting us on. Ingenuity? Try laziness, disrespect, and failing to teach manners. Before I could write, Mother had me color pictures to send people. As soon as I knew a few written words, each one was personalized, addressed directly to the giver, mentioned the specific gift and how much I was going to enjoy doing whatever with it (playing outside, wearing it to church, sharing with my sister, etc.) Some people may see thank you notes as antiquated, but I see them as a direct obligation to people who spent their time and money in choosing something for you. Shame on you if you actually believe pre-printed photocopied notes are appropriate.

  • shall6 Apr 4, 2011

    Just thought I'd add my recent struggle with all this after my older daughter's party:

    I'm also not crazy about goodie bags. I just don't like all the little stuff that ends up in every nook and cranny of my house (or in my 18-month-old's mouth). So what I did was get some bulk cookies from Costco, put one each in a gift bag and included a couple of Silly Bandz on the twist tie that closed the bag. Very cheap. Spent less than 75 cents per bag probably.

    Also ... for my daughter's party, we requested "no gifts" on the invitation. Family got her gifts, but I didn't think she needed anything else. A couple of friends brought her a gift to the party, which was fine. She wrote thank you notes to those people. I struggled with whether or not she should write thank you notes to the people who gave her cards - store bought and handmade. I opted for no. But I'm having second thoughts on that.


  • kellypratz Apr 4, 2011

    Wow, I must be old school I guess. I have never done goodie bags for any of my past daughters birthday parties. I figured I've already gone thru the stress of getting a cake, decorations, filling out the invitation cards and buying gifts for my daughter the last thing I want to then think about is what kinds of dollar store items to get and filling little bags with them. I always made sure my daughter said Thank you to the gift givers and the only thank you notes I make her do are the ones to the grandparents. Maybe I'm not in the times like everyone else. I just don't need the extra stress.

  • Nicsnanni Apr 4, 2011

    Amanda, you know you are just trying to get a reaction out of us. lol, hate the goodie bags, hate "pre-written" thank you notes. My kids are grown, now in grandchild mode. The child should sit down and take the time to write the thank you note, if not, how will they ever learn. It's nice to get a hand written thank you note that is personal. :-)