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The Great Candy Debate: Loot Bags

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Loot Bag Candy

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Before beginning this debate I should say that I don’t entirely understand the loot bag concept. I invite you to my party, I pay to feed you, I pay to water you, I pay to ply you with alcohol (okay, wait, that’s another party)… and when you leave, I pay you (via a loot bag) to leave. Exactly whose party is this?

Confusion aside, Caitlin’s article about the Chocolate/Candy Showdown in part prompted me to write about this topic. There is no doubting that the youth of today are getting bigger – childhood obesity is on the rise and the age of computing means children are exercising less. So as a Candy Addict, and as a parent – am I pro or against loot bags filled with candy (and other assorted annoying, cheap, easily broken toys)? Do I want my kids coming home from an event which already has high sugar foods… with yet more sugar? Or should loot bags get a make-over and not involve candy at all?

For me, I have to say that I am firmly in the NO candy-based loot bags camp. I know, I know – “But you’re a CANDY Addict! How can you be saying NO to candy?” (I hear you all saying.) I believe that like all good things, candy is something to be enjoyed in moderation. As a parent, I think the party food – including candy – should be enjoyed at the party and not come home with my kids. Simple as that.

Let them enjoy what’s on offer there, and then come home to run circles around the couch as they work off the sugar high. Party Pooper? Maybe. I just don’t really want half-licked Dum Dums stuck to my backseat, chewed up cheap gummy snakes in the air-conditioning vent, and banana-flavored taffy stuck to my kids’ shoes. Simple as that. (Oh, and the cheap toys can go, too.)

There is, of course, another facet to this debate – that of cheap, bad candy being fed to my kids in the first place. Do I want them gorging on the 99-cents-a-pound cheap stuff? Wouldn’t I rather they had a loot bag filled with some decent quality candy? If they did get a loot bag with some good stuff in it, would that change my opinion? In a word, no. I’m not against loot bags per se – I just think we should leave the candy at the party.

What do you think? Total party pooper, or just good sense? Leave a comment and let us know where you stand on the loot bag debate. (Just please don’t throw things. Cutting gum out of my hair would not be fun.)

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14 Responses to “The Great Candy Debate: Loot Bags”

  1. 1
    KFSonshine says:

    Michelle, I agree with your “keep it at the party” view. I do not have children, but imagine this to be a fair compromise. Goodie bag or no, I certainly don’t go for the cheap candy and flimsy toys. To me a goodie bag full of the cheap stuff says the host felt like they had to give the guests something, so here is this bag full of random stuff that you’ll probably throw away. If goodie bags are going to be given at all (and honestly I can’t think of one time growing up that I came home with a goodie bag…I obviously didn’t go to the right parties) give 1 piece of nice candy or one novelty toy (stickers are always fun…and they can be very cheap). Don’t give things just for the sake of giving.

  2. 2
    Pianocavitt says:

    I have never understood the concept of “Loot Bags”, but as a parent whose child went to parties and was given said bags, you’re under a tremendous amount of “pressure” to be better and more generous than the last – so there was never cheap non branded candies in my bags – but I did try to keep it to a reasonable amount.

  3. 3
    JEP says:

    As a grandma, I agree with your views as well as the above comment about the pressure parents must often feel to “out-do the last party giver”!

  4. 4
    ella says:

    NO loot bags. I don’t know when loot bags began, they weren’t around when I was a kid in the 70′s (eons ago)
    BUT, how can you tell your kid not to take an offered loot bag?

    Like this topic…

  5. 5
    Gracie says:

    Instead of the typical loot bag filled with cheap crap, we always gave everyone a PEZ at my kids parties. I felt the price was right, and everyone loves a new PEZ!

  6. 6
    Julie Nicolay says:

    I never got a loot bag, either, and maybe it’s ’cause I’m 50 and nobody did that back then, not that I ever experienced. My mom certainly never did, but man, did she ever bake and decorate some amazing cakes! And do fun things like have us kids all make our own salt water taffy to take home in little plastic bags (hey, it kept us all busy pulling that taffy over and over and it was FUN! I’ve never forgotten it and I bet none of those other kids have, either).

    Personally, I’m of the No Loot Bag camp. Kids don’t need to take a gift home, especially a bag full of cheap and crappy candy! Gummi worms in the air conditioning vents are a major suburban dilemma, I know. Seriously, though, if you feel you just have to keep up with the Joneses and give your child’s little guests something to take home, give ‘em something they make themselves at the party (doesn’t have to be that taffy, but I’ll never forget buttering up my hands…man, that was so great!). Something they can be proud of because they made it themselves!

    Not popcorn balls, either. Remember “Sucky Halloween Candy?” You do NOT want that reputation in your neighborhood or come October 31st, you’ll be pulling toilet paper down outta your trees…

  7. 7
    that bees chick says:

    I’m sorry, I’m pro loot bags! Against bad candy, but pro loot bags. I was never allowed to eat them directly after the party, but over the next week every little smarties roll was a reminder of a good time.

  8. 8
    indy276 says:

    well…now i feel kind of bad knowing so many parents feel this way…I had planned an international candy-tasting party for my nieces/nephews and some friends( hoping we can keep it less than 16 kids total : ) ). The kids are real excited about it. It was going to be mostly UK candy ( b/c that is what i love), and I was going to send home loot bags with samples so the kids could share with parents/siblings since it will be candy they have likely never seen before. We’re going to do rating cards, etc. for each candy. The candy will be in little dixie cup samples, fun-size pieces or slices so they will not be gorging. Since I do not have kids of my own, I do not want to upset any parents. My nieces/nephews get to try lots of kinds of candy at my house, but they are healthy active kids and we also do stuff like go hiking, swimming, play kick-ball, etc. I never really thought the parents might not be happy about the sample bags going home. Any thoughts from parents?

  9. 9
    Ana says:

    I always visit your blog but haven’t left a comment yet… well, until today.
    I completely and TOTALY agree with you!! It is common and good sense not to send kids home with a bunch of junky candy.
    Party food is already bad for you in itself (I know, it is fun, but it is nasty stuff IMO), and giving the kids a bag full of cheap candy is just wrong to me.
    My son is turning 6 and until today we have only given goody bags with toys and stickers inside, and the kids always like that! (even my son likes when he gets fun toys instead of candy, and usually he dumps out a lot of the bad candy he gets, it goes directly from the goody bags to the trash can).
    I am so glad to read your post, it is good to know that I am not the only party pooper around!

  10. 10
    Shery says:

    I am definately PRO loot bags. That is obvious since I actually am in the business of loot bags. As a parent, if there is candy in a loot bag, I put it away, and the kids can have little treats through out the week. As far as the little novelty toys…. I don’t really understand why the kids love it so much, but they do.

    My theory on the loot bags? I have 4!
    First, I believe that it is proper etiquette to send a ‘Thank you card’ if you receive a gift, UNLESS there is an EXCHANGE of gifts, which is the purpose of the loot bags.
    Secondly, the loot bags are usually made for kids. Have you ever tried to take a tired, ‘pumped-up-on-sugar’ child home after a party? The loot bag provides a great distraction and helps lure a child out the door after a party.
    Third, what a better way to announce the official end of a party, sending the message that it is time to take your kids home.
    Forth, go for themed or well decorated lootbags. They can be put out on a table, and actually look festive, and help set the mood/theme of a party.
    Lets Celebrate LootBags!

  11. 11
    AntFan says:

    Is it bad that for my child’s 3rd birthday I handed out loot bags with books, stickers, and educational flash cards? The kids did have cake, ice cream, and punch. I just wanted to keep all the candy for myself. :)

  12. 12
    are you serious says:

    Hey Everybody,
    Loot Bags are a good idea. Your child does not have to eat the candy right away. Some of you commented parents feel “pressured” to out do other parties. To anyone that feels pressured to out do other parents:GET OVER IT!!! Seriously, I do not feel the purpose of loot bags are to show off. They are a lot of fun. They do not have to filled with candy. Stickers, trail mix or little play rings. Let the kids have fun! I did not attend many parties with loot bags. In fact, only loot bag I recieved was in grade school. I am 28 now and love to make them for church events..The kids love them as well. They make great little prizes. Besides, when has a treat bag ever hurt anyone?

  13. 13
    are you serious says:

    No it is not bad that you give your little ones loot bags. ..or if you buy the candy for yourself… There are a lot of other things to worry about than depriving your child of loot bags. Eat the candy, share some do whatever you want! You only live once and life is too short.. HAVE FUN. By the way can you send me some candy?? Have a good day.

  14. 14
    helen says:

    please tell me what i can do i would give up a good meal just for candy i`m ` woman of 66 yrs.old and i haven`t changed since i can`t remember when I`m desperate and try diffrent things but all that`s happening is I`m gaining more weight lately so pleae tell me something.

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