Monday, April 06, 2009

Kid's Birthday Parties: Parents I Want Your Input

Today I received the following email from a good friend.

Ok- so I will preface this by saying I despise most kid's b'day parties...I got burned out on attending the parties thrown by the private school parents--fully catered, clowns, tumble bus, Spiderman delivering the cake, $25 gifts expected by the birthday brat and every mommy trying to one up the previous mommy. My kids HATED me, cause I wouldn't do it. Absolutely refused-I believe in saving it for a special b'day like - 10 or 16, 18 or 21...something big seems a bit more easy to swallow then..every year. NOW- the pendulum has swung the other way and the past two invities have come with a fee! One is a skating party $2 admission - plus $5 skate rental and the other is bowling- entry fee, plus shoe rental.. Seems odd, would seem that if one can't pay for ones guests one should try having a party at home...seems the need to keep indulging ones kids with un-affordable parties is somehow socially acceptable? I guess I don't have to worry about Spiderman and the tumble bus showing up if the host parent is asking guests to pay to attend....and not that it matters, but I could afford to pay for the party and/or for my child to atend the parties with fees, but the principal of the concept is bothering me...so I would love to hear your opinion...maybe I should just have a glass of wine and get over it?
I tend to prefer more low-key parties for the kiddos. I read somewhere that a good rule of thumb is to invite as many guests as the age of the child. My gut tells me that's sound advice.

Sure, it is fun to see your child's eyes light up when the moonbounce gets delivered or they ring the bell at the top of the climbing wall, but how do you celebrate the big milestones when a Kindergartener's party costs $400?

I don't know if I have a strong opinion about charging kids to come to a party. I suspect Emily Post would say that as the host you are responsible for ensuring your guests have a good time.

What do you say to my friend? She needs to RSVP soon.

28 Deserve Mamma's Love:

Redneck Mommy said...

As a mom to four kids, I've been to more childrens birthday parties (of every variety you can think of) and I've never heard of charging a guest to cover the cost.

I've rented out bowling alleys, pools and a park for various events and not once did the thought occur to me to charge my guests to help cover the costs.

Personally, I think that is extremely tacky and I just wouldn't bother attending.

Bad enough having to suffer through the torture of a child's birthday without having to pay for that privilege as well.

TX Poppet said...

I am shocked and appalled.

Melissa said...

No way! I think asking your guests to pay to come to a party is totally in bad taste. I love having home parties. They are rare by us b/c the same thing as your friend is happening - totally expensive parties. What the kids really want is to hang out together! Thanks for the warning - so if I get an invite asking my kid to pay I won't be totally shocked! LOL!

Elizabeth said...

BOOOO---charging to get into a kid's party??? NO, NO, NO. Uncool.

De in D.C. said...

Unless these are your kids' bestest friends, I'd pass on the parties. My son asked for a laser tag party for his next birthday (after attending one for a friend) and I flat out told him it wasn't in our budget. I'd never DREAM of making other parents pay for a party I can't afford.

Just give a polite decline and hopes they come to their senses the following year.

Violet the Verbose said...

Add me to the list of folks who have never heard of parents asking guests' parents to pay for their kids to attend a birthday party. That would be all fine and dandy if the idea was just a mutually agreed upon get-together at the roller rink (or wherever), but for your kid's birthday party? Either you pony up, or you have the party at home!

Annika said...

Unless I'm misunderstanding, the parents aren't charging admission - the roller rink is. That's totally normal, and as a kid I attended several birthday parties where I paid for my own skate rental. There is usually a group rate, but it's totally normal and I think acceptable for guests to pay for their rentals.

I do agree about parties in general. Um, your one-year-old needs a moon bounce? Really? But I think these specific examples are not so outrageous.

flutter said...

Tell liv to say no :P

Annie said...

I think it's very tacky to invite people and expect them to pay.

I'd be passing on those types of parties.

I also prefer to host parties at home - it's fun!

PunditMom said...

That's a lot of chutzpah to ask guests to a kid's party to pay! If you're going to do a party like that and there's a cost, the parents of the birthday child should either pay it themselves or, if they can't afford it, HAVE A PARTY THEY CAN AFFORD!

I can't believe there are parents who would do that. *grrrrr*

Kerry said...

That is just wrong. If you can't afford to have a party outside your home, order a pizza, bake a cake and buy Twister. I would never charge people to come to a party. I've even been tempted to tell people "no gifts" before.

Musings from Me said...

I totally disagree with charging the birthday guests. No, if you can't aford to invite guests then don't hold a party. Guests bring a gift and guests get free admission to the party if in house or bowling alley. Seems as though some parents are hopping on the "hard economic times bandwagon." Very poor form, indeed.

shayera said...

I guess I'm the odd one out of the bunch. I figure, whatever, I don't mind paying the 2.00 to skate. I've had the small and big parties at home and spent $400-500 on the kids 5th bday party. Ridiculous. If someone invited our kids to a party at a roller rink and they really wanted to go, sure, I would totally pony up the cash. I will probably never have a party that charged but, different strokes for different folks. Go, but buy a cheaper gift.

Alpha Mom said...

I think it's tacky and would never do it myself because if I would only throw the birthday party I could afford.

However, I would still attend. I don't think a child should be penalized for their parents' bad judgment. I still remember how as a child my friend was emotionally scarred by almost no one showing up to her party.

Emotionally, like it or not, birthday parties are like weddings to children. It may come every year, but a year is a long long time for a little kid and for that kid that is a big big day.

I would suck up the fee and compensate in the gift (if you're even giving).

Lumpyheadsmom said...

I'd say it's tacky, but no less tacky than a 28-year-old throwing herself a birthday party by choosing a restaurant and making her friends split the tab. And I've suffered through plenty of those.

I would encourage your friend to politely decline the invitation, unless she really wants to skate or bowl (and is ready to pay for it).

Ella said...

Ultimately I think it's horrible manners for the parents to expect the guests to pay. I'm assuming there will be cake & icecream paid for by the host parents? Seems to me it would have been better to just keep that at home. But... unfortunately it's not the host parents asking for advice. (although it would be pretty hilarious if this post were accidentally emailed to them!). Anyhoo...

If it were my child's BFF then I'd lay the $ down, have a glass of wine and get over it. Anyone else can kiss it.

Janine said...

As one of those moms who throws unusually large and elaborate parties (there's a reason...a) they are twins, b) they were born just before my dad died and I unconsciously over do it to get my mind off it) I have never asked anyone to contribute. And, if I was asking guests to pay a feel I would definitely say no gifts.
I think it's odd.
I would find something else to do.
Something that included that glass of wine.
On another note - I'm done with big parties. My dad is gone and i need to get over that.

Sarah said...

I am with the majority here. Not a good idea to charge guests to come to a birthday party.

My 8yo daughter wanted to have an ice skating party, but I told her we could only invite two-three friends if we did that. She ultimately decided that she'd rather invite the whole class and have the party at home. They decorated their own cupcakes (had a blast!) played Hannah Montana freeze dance and Polly Pocket. We set up some Hannah Montana toys as the table centerpiece.

It was the most laid back party I've ever thrown (I'm usually a theme overboard type) and it was the most fun for the kids and parents!

happyarewe said...

Talk about raising an Entitled Generation! If you can't afford a huge party, you need to teach your kids about having financial discipline and valuing time spent together over the bells and whistles of one big shin-dig. Gah, this just makes me ill. I would never dare to ask for $ to cover expenses, and I wouldn't dare accept an invitation to a party that does.

Leslie said...

I think asking guests to pay is tacky. I'm not sure it's so out of line I wouldn't attend, though. I guess that would depend on who the party was for and how much my kid digs him/her.

Stimey said...

I've never seen an invitation like this. I agree that it is pretty tacky. However, it were for a kid that my kids really wanted to celebrate, I would probably suck it up and let them go.

If I were ever in a situation where I couldn't afford a birthday party but wanted to invite a bunch of kids in this way, I would probably at the very least put a "no gifts" caveat on the invite.

imsilentnomore said...

I'm with the others, I think it is tacky. I'm thinking of having a bowling party next month for my son but I would never do it and ask for the kids to pay their own way.

I think that if you let your child attend you will send the message that it is ok and the trend may continue with other parents.

Whit said...

I've never heard of anyone doing this, and I wouldn't do it but it doesn't really bother me and I'd still go and not think twice. And I'd take a gift.

Something tells me I'm the only dad on here.

April said...

My guess is that this mother can't afford to do it herself, but really wants her kid to feel just as special as all her kid's friends. Depending on my own financial situation, and how important the friend was to my child would dictate whether or not my child(ren) would go. It's not about the parents, it's about the kids.

Beth said...

Charging guests? - awful! What's next? Our girlfriends will ask us to drop by for a glass of wine - and then charge a fee at the door?

Playground Confidential said...

Right. So it is obviously in better taste to foot your own kids birthday party bill yourself. Still, be gracious guests and pony up the couple of bucks and don't let this ruin your week. And worry about teaching your own kids the value of money and not always getting everything under the sun.

Playground Confidential said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cynthia Samuels said...

I've never heard of fees either, but we also never had "outside" birthday parties - mostly sleepovers and crafts parties and later dinner at a sportsbar or Chinese restaurant and THEN sleepovers. No one seems traumatized.
I honestly think those fancy shmancy parties are for the parents, not the kids.