Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Evil, thy name is Party City

The other day I went to Party City to purchase some party favors for Emma's upcoming butterfly-themed birthday party. I hate Party City. It was a last resort place to go after GPS led me to some stranger's house instead of my original destination, the Family Dollar Store. Then I attempted to find party favors at Michaels (I may need to join a Michaels-anonymous group soon), then Under 10 or 10 and Under or whatever that place is called, then JoAnn's (basically Michaels with fabric). I found lots of cute stuff at those places, but none of it fit my $2/per kid requirement for goody bags. That's when I headed to the dreaded Party City.

Party City had this crazy music playing, which I guess was supposed to be Halloween music. It was the same seven notes played over and over again in a minor key. I think it was supposed to be reminiscent of a pivotal scene in a cheesy horror movie. I couldn't have chosen more appropriate Party City music. That place is nothing if not cheesy and creepy.

At this time of year Party City also sounds like your garden-variety insane asylum. Every now and then, someone would walk by one of the talking Halloween decorations and cause it to shout mean, scary things or just laugh maniacally.
After passing by several aisles dedicated to Halloween costumes, mostly of the slutty variety (this year for Halloween you can be a slutty kitten, a slutty witch, a slutty fairy, a slutty ladybug, even a slutty pumpkin), I finally found the birthday party stuff. I weeded through all the High School Musical, Diego/Dora, SpongeBob and Backyardigans paraphernalia (I'm surprised there's not a "Nick Jr." party theme), and found some butterfly/nature things.

It's really tempting to just go crazy buying stuff for goody bags. Or at least it's tempting to me. I had to fight the urge to go nuts and just start throwing butterfly bubble necklaces, butterfly hair clips, and butterfly yo-yos into my cart willy nilly. I did restrain myself and thought long and hard about all this junk and where it was probably made and the poor little trained monkeys who are probably working in a sweatshop to make stuff for Party City, their slutty bumble-bee costumes chafing their delicate monkey skin. That's when I thought of the Party City Golden Rule.

Party City Golden Rule: Do not put anything in a goody bag that you would want to set fire to or throw out the window if your kid came home with it in a goody bag.

So, with this rule in mind, I chose some butterfly/nature notepads, pens, stickers and candy rings. Everything is recyclable/practical or you suck on it until it disappears. No major landfill damage done in the name of my child's birthday celebration.

I wish we didn't have to have places like Party City and I also wish I didn't just give them $3o of my money. For a place called Party City, the place was completely devoid of joy or party atmosphere. The store seems to distill parties down to their worst, basest elements. If an alien landed from outer space and went to Party City, he or she would have to assume that our parties are all about celebrating TV shows and sluttiness and consuming plastic junk and candy by the pinata-ful.

Would it be so terrible not to give kids goody bags at all? Are they really so important? Sometimes I like to make mix CDs of music that goes with the theme. Like for Charlie's last party, I made a Space Jams CD, which I've been known to listen to when the kids aren't around. I guess you have to send the kids home with some token party favor. You don't want word to get out that you throw lame parties. But I do think it's a good thing to be mindful of what you're buying and why. Maybe if we all stopped buying what Party City is selling, there would be no need for Party City anymore? A mom can dream...


MaryAnne said...

My Emma wants a butterfly-themed party too - we're a few months away so I'd love to hear any other ideas you get for the party.

For Emma's 3rd birthday I wrapped a small (roughly $2) gift for each child instead of giving goody bags to the kids; they seemed happy enough with that...

Robin said...

I hear you. You put very eloquent words to my exact thoughts. Clara is going to be a (non-slutty) butterfly this year for Halloween. Can I find her some antennae without having to step foot in Party City??? Please tell me yes and where to find them!


Christiana said...

I walked by costumes at Target this week and felt great relief (but also just the tiniest bit of disappointment) that Neva is not old enough to care about Halloween or birthday costumes/themes. I must learn craftiness before she is old enough to want all those silly (but also really fun!) things. Yeah for you for finding some practical/recyclable party favors. I'm sure Emma's party is going to be great!
I always love your posts.

Specks said...

This was such a great post~ I totally hear you and have a lot of the same feelings whenever I enter a Party City. It was soooo good to see you and that adorable Teddy!

Lisa said...

Sounds like you made some good choices - and I think you're awesome for being willing to search high and low at so many different stores. Emma and your boys are very lucky to have that kind of a mom.

And you also leave me very curious as to what on earth a slutty pumpkin costume would look like. That sounds ridiculous! :)

Ramona said...

I loved this, so funny and so true! I got a Party City ad in the mail yesterday and saw one of the sluts :). You should teach Party City a thing or two about how to throw a great party!

Julie said...