Dear Parents Of The Kids At My Son's Party...

An open letter to all the parents who's kids are invited to my kids' birthday parties

Kids’ birthday parties sure are different today than they were back in my day. I can count on one hand the number of parties I went to that weren’t in my friend’s houses, and of those few parties I can count, all but one were at the local bowling alley. Today, I can count on one hand the number of birthday parties my children have been invited to that were in their friend’s houses.

I fully admit that it’s nice to have a million options for children’s parties now so that someone else is in charge of most of the entertainment and clean up.

While birthday parties may have changed since I was a child, certainly the rules of etiquette have not, or shouldn’t have anyway. But in my short career as a party planner for my children’s birthdays, a few glaring etiquette breaches seem to repeat themselves year after year, party after party.  I’m hardly beholden to Peggy Post in my everyday life but when you’re hosting a party for 15 kids, buying food and loot bags and committing numbers to a venue, there are a few general rules that would be lovely if all parents followed.

And so, I have written an open letter to parents because who doesn’t love an open letter? Plus, I think I am in good company with other parents who just want to know who’s coming to their party. Is that really too much to ask? I don’t think so. So I am asking.

 ***

Dearest parents of my children’s friends,

It’s wonderful to meet you via the card I sent home with your wonderful child. I have a few small request that are implied in every invitation I send.

I sincerely hope your child can attend. My child would be excited and honoured to have your child celebrate this special day with us. If, however, your child is unable to attend, please, for the love all things holy, let me know! I put my contact information on the card for a reason. You may call, you may email, the world is your oyster. But please use one of those methods to access me to let me know if I should be expecting your child at the party.

It’s not because I’m a control freak. It’s because I’m going to be buying loot bags and food for this party, and, depending on where I’m hosting it, I may have to confirm numbers of attendees in advance. If I’m not sure if your child is coming I may be paying for party favours for a child who isn’t attending and I may be stuck paying for your child at the venue, too. You don’t want me unnecessarily throwing out money do you? Especially when all it takes to keep that from happening is a quick call or email?

I know, some of you might think for some that if your child is not attending they need not reply at all. R.S.V.P stands for Respondez S’il Vous Plait, literally translated to respond please. It doesn’t mean respond only if your child is coming. So please, respond!

Also, I hope you understand that we are only inviting the child whose name is written on the card. I would love to host everyone’s siblings but unfortunately I can’t afford to throw a party for 50 kids, nor can my sanity handle it.

I fully understand that you may have another child for whom you are unable to find child care and may not want to leave your child unattended at a birthday party yet. But I’m not expecting any more children than have RSVPed “yes” and the venue might not be age appropriate or have the room to accommodate more children. Some parents and venues might be totally okay with you bringing all of your children, but it’s never okay to just show up with them. Please, at the very least ask. Thanks!

We really do hope your child is able to attend. Birthday parties are fun!

Sincerely,

Your child’s friend’s mom

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