Let’s have an honest conversation about kids’ birthday parties.
There’s a lot of time, effort, money and Pinterest perusing that goes into pulling off a birthday party for your little one. Whether you are the mom who handcrafts magical invitations, fastening each bauble to the princess crown prominently displayed at the top; or the one who throws the store bought ones from Target in the cart next to your tampons, almost as an afterthought (full disclosure, I’ve been both)– we all put our own relative effort into the fete preparations.
You follow the school’s instructions to invite every child in the class (yes, even the booger eater) because it’s just mean to leave someone out. And if you have mom friends outside of school, you add them to the list as well. Before you know it, your small party turns into a pseudo bat mitzvah, and you call Costco to order another sandwich platter.
You also had to increase the size of your cake and bang out another group of party favors. Plus, the place you are having it has a strict headcount limit and even though you are only three people over, you will have to pay an additional fee. And another one if you add more heads.
Let me also add, that this isn’t one of those over-the-top fancy celebrity parties where people leave with puppies and swag bags. It’s a regular celebration at your neighborhood gymnastics place or playspace. But even those can be deceptively expensive.
So….all of that being said, there are a couple of things that would be super duper awesome if us parents could get on the same page about.
1) Please RSVP
I know we are all busy. Life can be crazy and we all forget stuff sometimes – big and small. But you have a parent who is literally waiting for a headcount to order food, cake and other party staples. As the non-responders build up, so does the party parent’s stress level.
2) Don’t bail last minute or worse, just show up
Listen, emergencies happen. Kids get sick. Logistics change. I’m not talking about any of those situations. I’m talking about the person who just decides to be a douche and bail last minute for no good reason, other than that they didn’t feel like forcing their kid to put on socks. Also along those lines, don’t just show up to a party that you never RSVPed too. That’s just bad manners. I promise if you call the parent even a couple of hours before the party and say, “Crap! I ate my brain for breakfast and forgot the party was today! We would love to come if that’s still ok”, she is going to say yes.
3) Stop with the siblings
I realize many kids have siblings and it can be challenging logistically when you have multiple children to entertain, and only one was invited to a party. Here’s the thing. It is so uncomfortable to get that call/email/text/Facebook message that goes like this…
“Hey, we would love to come to the party. But I have no sitter and my husband is working, so is it ok if I bring his brother (or 3)? I totally understand if it’s not but thought I would ask. Thanks so much!”
Remember all of that stuff I talked about before? The headcount and the food and the party room fees? The party parent actually had to whittle down their list and cut some people - justified by the fact that they were HER friends and not her kid’s and/or she hadn’t seen them in a couple of months. Now, you are putting her in a pickle because she hates to leave anyone out and will look like a monster if she say no, but she really wants to. Her child doesn’t even know the sibling(s), and while she genuinely appreciates your situation, you are one of 3 people now who have asked to bring extra party guests. That’s also not including the 2 people who will blatantly ignore the second item in this list and bring siblings as well. (P.S. Babies don’t count. If you have a breastfeeding infant strapped to your chest it’s not the same as bringing a full-grown toddler…or older).
So please, stop putting her in that position and realize it’s not because she can’t be gracious. It’s more of a pain in the ass than you realize.
4) Don’t just drop and go
If the invitation does not specify that it’s a drop off party, then it’s not. So please, don’t just saunter in, leave your kid by the ski-ball machine and tell the other parent you’ll be back to get him in a couple of hours. You have just given her another responsibility to watch a child who is not hers and she kind of already have a lot on her plate today.
I mean, how great would it be if we could all be on the same page and completely do away with the awkward situations that arise from these four things?