Wednesday, April 25, 2012

5 Kids Birthday Party Problems... where are our manners these days?

So though I don’t claim to be Miss Manners… and though I don’t claim to be the queen of etiquette myself (I’m pretty relaxed about most things!), there are some MUSTS when it comes to parties. I know this may sound petty to people without kids, but for all you parents I have a few gripes about birthday party etiquette. 
I have several issues I want to address with this. As with all things, parenting is very learn-as-you-go. You will (inevitably) make mistakes and you learn from your experiences. As with me, being a navy wife, we were all raised in different areas, by extremely different people, where customs and faux pas, and etiquette are very different. This becomes more increasingly apparent the longer my husband is in the Navy...

  1. First there is the invitations/RSVP/timeliness.
  2. Then there is the Drop off.
  3. There is a food issue.
  4. and other kids issue.
  5. There is a gift issue (Hope I didn't miss any issues)

Let's address #1-  Show up an hour late or not at all? Ummm, no. I also understand that unforseen circumstances can occur, but when you rsvp for a party, especially one where the parents have to pay per person, at the very least call and say you can't make it.  1. “RSVP” means Respondez, s’il-vous-plait. That’s French for, “let me know if your kid is coming, dammit!” It is often confused with “Ignore this invitation and let it get lost under a pile of junk mail, forcing the hostess to call you the day before to figure out if you’re coming.” SERIOUSLY.  RSVP is not a suggestion. It’s critical to let the host know who to expect. If you DO NOT RSVP, don’t be surprised if you show up with your little darling in tow and she breaks down in tears because the host doesn’t have enough goody bags with $5 worth of SillyBandz and plastic tchotchkes from the dollar store. 
It is very rude to not RSVP for a party at all. I don't care whether the answer is yes or no. I don't need a lengthy explanation. A simple, sorry Johnny can't make it to the party will suffice. 

Also, it is not polite to give only a few days notice. This weekend is in 4 days, yet I JUST got an invite from my child's classmate parent LAST NIGHT. And the party is in Jacksonville, which happens to not be in town (like 45 minutes drive). It's not like my social calendar is completely booked up, but give me at  least  a week to 10 days so that will include a weekend I can go to the store to get your kid a present.   And calling me instead of sending a paper invitation? Not cool. While I appreciate trying to save some trees, it would be most helpful if you can send something in writing with the pertinent info. 

Let's address #2- The dreaded drop-off. I do understand each parent is different, some prefer it, because they do not have to feed the adults. I think that is cheap. I say if the kid has two digits in their age, then it is OK to drop them off. 9 and under? No. They can't cross a street yet. I am being slightly facetious, but young kids are smart and can handle themselves, but they are also disobedient, and get into things. They have no common sense yet. Do not assume when I have a party that it's okay to just drop your kid off. While this is perfectly acceptable for older kids, I once had a party for my then 5 year old and had parents inquiring about just dropping their little Johnnies off like it was sleepaway camp. Thank god she asked, and I started to tell her, sure, she'll be leaving after she drank a case of red bull, hung out with creepy Uncle Chester and given a free puppy. Your welcome *smile big*. No, I am not babysitting your child. You stay and watch it, I am not wonder woman, I cannot keep track of everyone's child. Huge liability issue. I am running a birthday party, remember?  If your kid can’t handle being on his or her own, don’t leave them with a host parent who has 12 other kids to keep track of. If you know your kid starts bouncing off the walls and throwing chairs when jacked up on Mountain Dew, don’t leave her unattended. By the same token, if your son cries when he’s more than five feet from you, plan to stay at the party. The mom and dad planning the party have a lot on their hands and don’t need to be worried about whether your child is going to crack someone upside the head with the SpongeBob pinata.  

#3 - The Food Issue- You should not choose to not have food or drinks at a party. I don't know about 'yall, but I am from the deep south. You feed the guests well, and it would be embarrassing to be a bad host. And not just snack food. You are requesting that they bring gifts after all, it's the least you can do. I had one instance where a girl had it a restaurant, and expected guests to pay for the food. Even if it was fast food.. still. Yet another where there was a tiny cake and a ton of adults. None of the adults got the cake, minus the birthday child's parents (OK maybe a few other adults.. but point is there was not enough.... don't invite 10 kids and have a TINY cake.) which seemed not right. There were barely enough drinks, and the only food was a huge canister of cheese balls. And I spent like 25$ on the gift, and didn't eat prior to the party, assuming I would be fed in return for taking one of  my weekend days and spending my money on your child. Not cool. Don't have a birthday party if you can't afford to feed your guests. Plain and simple. If you do, don't expect me to not say anything about it. I probably will.

#4 - Uninvited Guests/ Siblings -  We all know it, stuff comes up and you might bring an unexpected child. Never more than two last minute unexpected kids, and never without asking the host BEFORE showing up with them. The sooner you can let her know the better. THIS GOES BACK TO #1- RSVP-ing. I am having a birthday party this year, here in a few weeks at a Build-A-Bear and eating the cost of 25$ PER CHILD attending. One of my friends, has 4 kids. I hope she spares me and only brings two, or offers to pay for two. Either way. I would never assume the party parent had enough supplies to just bring my kids without asking first. That is rude of those parents. I would NEVER however send uninvited kids away , no matter how many showed up. That would be just sad for them, considering it was their thoughtless parents fault and not their own. In the future, make a little note in the invitation either asking parents not to bring siblings. like: No siblings please. Or ask them to PLEASE RSVP with the number of children they will be bringing so that adequate food and cake and plates, trinkets will be available. If each parent attending my toddler's birthday party next month brought 1 extra kid, that would be extremely costly. This is why RSVPing is SO important. This also rings true of other parties where babies/kids might not be invited. Neglecting to respond properly to an invitation is pushy. Gently reminding people of good manners is not.  When dealing with responses, your crew must be prepared to say things like "There is a misunderstanding. The invitation is for Marge Simpson and Lisa Simpson. Bart, Homer, and Maggie are not on the guest list. Do you need a few days to think this over?" Do not be bullied by "If my other kids can't come then I'm not coming either!" But also, do not be upset when your party is less than busy because people cannot get babysitters for their children. Expect attendance to be thin, especially if most of your friends do have quite a few children.

#5 - The gift issues - How much is too much? How little is too little? As a rule of thumb, the gift should cost at least 10, but no more than 40. You don't want to make others feel as if their gift is inadequate. On the other hand, buying a ridiculously cheap present.... Hey, I know it's a recession and a lot of people don't have extra money. But really- what is my kid going to do with a dollar store coloring book and a pack of gum? Having the party is very expensive but I do it because I want my kids to be happy and have a good time. I don't expect a $50 toy, but c'mon at least $10.

It is becoming a new fad to have a "NO Gift" party. Since we all grew up and know your supposed to take a gift, it can be hard for parent's to take this seriously. In this instance, you can request they bring goods for your favorite charity. Like canned good for a local food bank, or even dog food for a local dog shelter. That way, they are giving- and you are contributing to society while encouraging others to do good things as well.

Thanks to all who listened to me vent.  What gets under your skin about going to or having parties?


These people who are posting "a response makes people uncomfortable or it's from a bygone era" must have never hosted a party. The host HAS to know how many people to expect so he/she can order the appropriate amount of food and drink. These obnoxious people (who don't take the 2 minutes to respond) are the same people who would show up and bitch about the lack of food and drink. No excuse...they are rude and boorish.
—Guest Big Mama


This is a pet peas of mine, I constantly have this conversation with people whom I invite to my function, that it is rude not to respond and then show up. I am often call prissy because I only invite by invitation and I always request RSVP. I am glad someone besides myself thinks that it is rude not to respond, in either case. Thank you, thank you.
—Guest Bnice

I hate it too!

I hosted a couple of expensive bday parties for my daughter and one Easter egg hunt last year. Everyone who I invited either called or emailed me to say thank you for the invite and to say yes or no except for this family of 3 kids. Mind you, the first party was at Build A Bear and a build your own pizza at a restaurant and then a party at a bounce house. These parties cost nearly $30 per child. The family of the 3 kids never RSVP and have the nerve to show up! 

RSVP in my community

For events in my community, invitations are sent with RSVP, more out of an invitation format than the need for it. The only RSVP that counts is an invitation that has written on it 'Strictly by Invitation'. Though, I'll respond to every invitation I get from now be it positive or negative.
—Guest Bisi

Can't be bothered to say no?

The problem with not responding because you're not coming, is that the hostess has no idea that's why you didn't respond. Possibly, you could have not gotten the invite, but would come if you had. Maybe you forgot to call and say yes. She has no idea that your silence means you're not coming. I wish that we could make a list of RSVP'ers. If your name isn't on it, and you show up anyway, too bad for you. A friend of mine did that for her reception and put the word out that it would be handled like that. Needless to say, she didn't have a problem with extra people.

Here's a wonderful Birthday Party Checklist from Real Simple.


corabeth said...

I love this. I really do. I love every bit. But especially the RSVP part.

Donna G. said...

Seriously, I've had everything on this list happen but the thing that makes me the most mad is bringing of extra kids and adults and bringing no gift at all. It's a birthday party for your kid not your social party. My kids had a combined party of over 50 people (not all invited) we made a ton of food, bought cases of drinks and people had the nerve to complain when most didn't even bring a gift. I've never done it again. I learned my lesson. Spend all your money on just your kids with no party they will like it more.

Post a Comment

Wait! If you are entering my giveaway, please make sure you are following my blog through Google Friend Connect. It is NOT mandatory -However, karma begs that you do! Here's why; the more followers this blog has, the more great things I can continue to bring you. Remember in order to win on Locomotion of Expressions, all you have to do is place one comment stating that you want to win.