year old swag bags

We’ve started to plan LO’s birthday party (less than a month now, I can’t believe it!) and so far our plan is very low key: invite her school friends to the local seaside park, hire a couple babysitters, and grill with the parents while the babysitters watch the kids play. Yes, we’ll have a cake and sing happy birthday, but aside from that, we’re not really planning any theme or activities because the park has really good play facilities and they’ll make their own fun. My question is at all of th e birthday parties we’ve gone to recently, the birthday kid’s mom has had little swag bags for each child attending the party. I didn’t grow up with this so I find this to be strange a gift for attending someone else’s birthday? After each party I come home with these bags of crap cheap little plastic toys, poor quality crayons, cheap bubbles, and candy. It all goes in the trash.

So, are these little gift bags absolutely necessary? Am I going to be breaking some unwritten rule if I don’t give these out? And if it really is de rigeur now, what are some good ideas to put inside? It seems every kid loves stickers, so that’s easy, but with all the food allergies these days, can you give out food? What should be in these that a) won’t break the bank and b) won’t go into the trash immediately? My preference is still to skip them entirely, but my DH says we can’t, if everyo ne else is doing it.

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