The History of Party Bags

Published : 12/01/2009 13:21:53
Categories : Interesting Party Facts

Think about this for a moment. You are throwing a birthday party for your son or daughter. You have party themed decorations. You have food, drinks, matching plates and napkins. You may even have entertainment. There's a cake, and a great gift for your kid. Quick-what did you forget? That's right, party bags for every single party attendee. To me, party bags are a relatively new phenomenon. We did not have them when I was a kid (just for reference, we did have running water and electricity). I can only imagine what my grandmother would have thought about giving gifts to people just because they came to your party! So why do we do it now? What is the history of party bags?  A quick search with Google does not reveal any insight. As a child, I remember game shows on television would send the losers away with "parting gifts". I have seen celebrity gift bags for Hollywood award shows where nominees are given thousands of pounds worth of merchandise. Is Hollywood to blame for the growth of party bags for kids? Further research pointed me to the tradition of potlatch. The potlatch is a festival that was celebrated by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest in North America. In a nutshell, a family would enhance its standing in the community by conspicuously giving away its wealth. Huge celebrations would be thrown to redistribute wealth. The bigger the party bag, the better the family's standing.     Are there any parallels between the potlatch and the party bag?  I know our kids compare the party bags they get from party to party, and prefer the parties thrown by the families with the best party bags. So far, they have not received any whale blubber or seal meat in any of their party bags.  The practice of potlatch was banned in Canada and the United States. When I think about party bags for my kids, I remember the ban, and remind myself that the very act of providing party bags can be my own little act of civil disobedience. Here's to the mums and dads who dish out the goodies!

Share this content

Add a comment

 (with http://)