Many of the items don’t even do what they’re supposed to do. The recorders play only one note, the erasers don’t erase, the yo-yos aren’t possessed of enough weight to roll themselves back up their strings. It’s as if the manufacturers never even intended for these products to work, let alone last. And this – more than the cost – is what strikes me as obscene. It’s just a quick buck for them, a passing thrill for the kids, then a lifetime in landfill.
But you can bypass the waste and embedded energy costs of all this by buying your party favours from op shops. One year, I came across an assortment of glass sea creatures hanging from delicate glass bubbles. They were beautiful and priced at just $1 each. I suspended them in a tank of water and as each child left the party they were blindfolded and treated to a “lucky fish dip”.
Another year, I found a batch of polka-dot, glow-in-the-dark cardboard bow ties and put one in front of each child’s plate in lieu of a party hat. It wasn’t until many months later that a parent said to me, “Are you aware that those polka dots were actually little sperms and condoms?” So yes, do buy your Party Pieces (that’s right – bring on William and Kate’s wedding!) second-hand. Just maybe not the surplus stock from an old safe sex campaign.
Amy Choi grew up in the family business (a Chinese take-away) and is a three-time university dropout. She was once a finalist in the Vogue Talent Contest and flew all the way to London for lunch at Vogue House. She has worked in customer service, as an usher, foster carer, freelance writer and columnist, most recently for The Age. Her first book will be published next year. She's still dating her first boyfriend and they live in country Victoria with their two daughters. Keep track of Amy's op-shopping adventures at her Revival blog... and at GWAS each fortnight.
Posted by Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) at Thursday, March 24, 2011