Fast forward a few years and the bags my youngest gets probably cost more than what I spent on the birthday child's present. Small Lego sets, action figures, involved craft kits... plus the candy, noisemakers and plastic junk.
I'm not sure what brought on the change, but my guess is that each momma feels like she has to keep up or outdo the one before her. It's the same mindset that has taken the kid's party out of the backyard and to hotels featuring indoor swim parks or pizza party palaces that charge several hundred for a one hour party.
I refuse to get on this bandwagon. Our backyard parties, or parties at the local city park that features a free water splash play area and picnic tables, are a favorite with both the kids and their friends. No expensive party favor toys either. To get around this requirement, I've taken to making simple balloon pinatas and stuffing them with candy and a few choice but cheap toys, such as balsa wood gliders. No complaints, and if anyone is calling me cheap behind my back so be it. A party is about celebrating not buying your guests expensive toys.