Party favor bags used to be my favorite part of a birthday party. Getting a little take-home soothed the burn of spending my own hard-earned money on another kid. And yeah, it was hard-earned–one of my first paying jobs was retrieving beers for my dad’s friends during football games. I made out pretty well at a buck a beer. Other early ventures included finding coin-filled eggs on Easter morning and losing teeth.
The next awesome thing about party favor bags is that they are filled with secret surprises. What’s inside these bags is besides the point, the surprise is the good part. Sometimes you get a pretty good selection of noisemakers and bouncy balls, while other times you get totally gipped with a piece of unwrapped Bazooka. Now, if you got the good bag, and your sibling or friend got the crap bag–it was even better, because now you had bragging rights. I’m writing this all in second person, as though it might apply to you too. Maybe you’re not the kind of person who brags about getting better party favors, but I am.
So when I found these surprise bags for sale at a party store, I couldn’t resist buying a couple. Inside could be anything–rare African coins, fossilzed hamster skulls, a pink plastic frog. The world is my oyster. So let’s take a look. I’m pulling an item out, writing my thoughts on it, and rating its worth. First up, the boy bag.
Not bad. A styrofoam airplane. It flew pretty good–about a foot–before it crash-landed and the propeller came off, breaking in two. Not bad at all.
Worth: I’ll give it 7 out of a 10. It’s entertaining for a few minutes, gives you a sense of accomplishment for putting it together, and it flew better than any paper airplane I ever made. I sucked at paper airplanes. I suck at folding things.
A Parachute Man. At one time, I thought these parachute men were the secret to flying. When I was a kid, I was sure I could figure out how to fly, and I spent a lot of my spare time trying. Jumping off decks with trash bags, duct-taping a kite to my sister, jumping off chairs holding on to a parachute man. I remember being really bummed when my parachute man plan didn’t work out. I hit the floor, he hit the floor. I was all set to try again, but to my deep sadness, the floss-like string of the parachute had snapped.
Worth: 9 out of 10. This guy’s cool–he’s got a pointed gun AND he’s saying hello.
Alright, a helicopter! It’s nicely made too. It’s not one of those dollar store crap ones, but a sturdy little copter.
Worth: 7 out of 10. It’s a larger item, and weightier items in grab bags are worth more. But at the end of the day, it really is just a generic helicopter with no bells or whistles.
Clown Pinball. Plastic pinball games are a staple of party favor bags. They’re almost instantly boring though. It also appears to be a sad clown pinball game, which is a bit depressing. That’s the thing about these junky toys–they all have the ability to depress the shit out of you. The clown’s eyes look like he’s gazing out the window on a gray day, watching the weeds overtake the flowers in the dirt. Sometimes I really stretch these metaphors, huh?
Worth: 3 out of 10. Recap: Boring game. Sad clown. Depression.
A bouncy ball and a half ball thingy. The bouncy ball is self-explanatory, but the half ball thingy is a piece of rubber you turn inside out, and when it snaps back into form, it jumps up in the air. You can really only play with it once, because when it jumps in the air, it lands some place behind the sofa and cloaks itself, and you’ll never see it again.
Worth: 5 out of 10. Fun for a couple minutes. You try to get that one big bounce in, a direct ceiling hit being your primary goal. Through the ceiling and you’d be a God. And goddamnit, where did that rubber thing go?
Halloween wrist games. The original portable games. You snap it around your wrist and it provides about 15 seconds of fun, until you realize the hole is impossibly small to actually hold the ball. It’s crap and you hate yourself for putting it on your wrist. Get it off! Get it off!
Worth: 6 out of 10. The pictures scored points with me. Awesome witch, awesome spider. An old-fashioned witch with a green face and regular old broom. I think these things are old, from the early 90s. I got awesome retro game watches. What do you get? Nyah nyah nyah!
Alright, let’s take a look at the girl bag.
Fake fashionable sunglasses. Whenever little kids are wearing fake sunglasses, you might think they look cute, but I think they just look lame. Those aren’t even UV protective, lamer.
Worth: 6 out of 10. Whatever. I suspect little girls would dig these, so I’m giving it a 6. If this were a real-life situation grab bag review and I got this in my bag, I would reject them and demand another favor bag.
Crayon barette. I’m calling it a barette, but I think barettes have metal snaps. What is this thing? Whatever it is, I doubt it even holds your hair in place. And I’ll tell you what–if you had a head of thick, naturally curly hair, those little plastic crayons didn’t stand a damn chance. You’d be taking a bath two weeks later and a crayon would fall out of your head.
Worth: 2 out of 10. You can’t even play with this! REJECT.
A pig! He’s glad to be out of that bag with that stupid, dumb barette. The girlfriend collects pigs, so I’m always happy to come across pig things. It’s great when someone collects common things, because then you’ll always have small little gifts you can present them with. When someone collects obscure things, like myself, you can’t buy ’em anything, and if you make an attempt, it’s never the right one, or they already have it. But pigs crap doesn’t come in collector editions or mint-on-card.
Worth: 8 out of 10. He’s also the brightest out of all the surprises so far.
Lion Bubbles. OK, bubbles are never, ever a bad item. Floating orbs of soap water! I even like when bubbles come out of dishsoap bottle when I’m washing the dishes. And of course, catching a bubble unharmed on your hand is the equivalent of having a baby bird land on your shoulder and chirp in your ear. God, I’ve always wanted a baby bird to land on my shoulder.
Worth: 7 out of 10. Oh yeah, awesome lion head too.
Another game in the Halloween collection, and another cloaking half-ball thingy. Overall, I’m impressed with the variation between the bags and the items themselves.
Worth: 5 out of 10.
Finally, the worst item. A crappy bracelet. Actually, I have a story. One year at the ocean, I picked out one of these exact bracelets as a souvenir for the trip. I imagined it was something surfers wore, like an identifying bracelet that only other surfers knew. I think my mom told me it was a surfer bracelet. I wore it religiously, never taking it off, even in the ocean and pool. It was neon green and faded to a disgusting puke mustard color, but I still wore my surfer bracelet. I wore it way past the summer and into the school year, when it finally began to dry rot.
Worth: 1 out of 10. There was no such surfer bracelet, was there? It sucks when you’re the only person in the club.