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Birthday Party etiquette...do I Really Have to Feed ALL These People???

Ok mamas, I need some advice. I booked my daughter's 7th birthday party several weeks ago and considering her birthday is not until April, I thought I was really on the ball. Well, not so much. The place was booked solid the month of Saturdays before and after her birthday. Sooo, I had to book it on a Sunday. Which would not have been a big deal if I could have gotten it around 2. But it's a public indoor pool, and the only time you can do private parties is before 2 or after 8! So, we are doing on a Sunday from 11:30 to 1:30. Already not in the best taste, I know.

But that part is done, and I'm just going to have to hope people don't think I'm totally rude for it. My question for y'all is, do I HAVE to feed everyone lunch?? The place we are having it is already pretty expensive. And part of the reason for having it there is that, first she REALLY wanted to, and second because there is not limit to how many you can have. So I can have all her friends AND her family. LOT of people if we're talking about food! I'm of course going to do cake and ice cream, but should I have lunch too??? TIA!


What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the awesome advice! I'm still not completely decided, but I definitely got a lot of GREAT ideas! I'm leaning toward having some big bowls of popcorn, chex mix, and trail mix on the table and a cooler of kool aid and a cooler of water. Then I can also do cup cakes and ice cream cups. I should've mentioned that the party room is is a completely seperate area from the pool, so no one will be in there until I say, "Ok kids get out!" Since I want the kids to have every possible second they can to swim, I think doing a meal would just be too time consuming. We'll see how it goes!!

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Little Ceasars (and maybe Cici's too) has 1 topping large pizzas for $5.55 each. They'll feed a crowd without breaking the bank & all things considered may be easier and more filling than bringing an assortment of snack foods.

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I agree with the moms that say you have to feed them - you would have to have it earlier (9-11 or even 10-12) or later (8-10) in order to avoid feeding people. Kids, especially little kids, will just get more unruly without non-sugary foods and the spirit of the party should be for everyone to have fun, not how many people you can have. I've asked friends with older kids about when to expect that kids will show up to parties without their parents, and it seems that now it's more like when they are closer to "tween" ages (10-12), so you are close to that, but not there yet. Sorry!

Pizza is always good and reasonable:) Plus, works for vegetarians too.

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Generally, if I have a party around lunch time, I provide lunch. However, being that it is a swim place, the kids will probably be busy swimming. You can always just put on the invitation "cake, ice cream, and light snacks will be served" and then people will know you aren't planning on serving a big lunch, but you should probalby have chips, maybe some finger sandwiches, fruit and veggie tray plus the cake and ice cream.

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If cost is an issue then you need to revamp the guest list. Or have the party somewhere else. And yep, you have to feed people when you host a party during the lunch hour. Most people would be leaving their homes around 11 to get to your party so they would have to eat "lunch" at 10 or 10:30 if they ate before the party. You don't have to serve a full 3 course meal but you need to have plenty of finger foods, drinks and snacks.

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A., that is a mighty big question and everyone has their own opinions about it. Very interesting. Yes you should, no you don't have to...very confusing.

Maybe this will help:
1. Do you want to feed them?
2. Do you feel responsible to feed them?
3. Will our life change with either decision that you make? (ex: don't feed them and maybe 1 or 2 find it "wrong" OR you spend another $100 on food and you struggle because of that)

Bottom line, do what you FEEL IS RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY.

My girls are 14 and 10 and I will tell you i have never had more than cake, ice-cream and fruit at my parties. No matter what time of day or where they were being held. We had my daughters 6th birthday at the local pool (it was her birthday right after her final swimming lesson so it was easy to invite a lot of kids) There was no way I was going to feed them AND pay $250 for the pool to be open 2 more hours. In the invitation I simply wrote: you are invited to Rydel's swim party from Noon to 2 PM. Cake, ice-cream and some fruit will be provided at 1:30. Please feed your little fishes before the party. There was not even one parent who made a comment AGAINST what I did. On the contrary...I had about 10 of them tell me THAT IS WHAT I AM DOING NEXT YEAR!!! The birthday party was simple and other than the cost of the pool, it was quite reasonable.

A couple of other things that I do or have done:

NO LOOT BAGS - no junk needed. I never understood why kids got a gift for bringing a gift.

NO JUNK FOOD - that is just my simple rule for everything.

NO PRESENTS - as the girls got older they of course picked more expensive places to go. so the invitations simply read this:
"Taylor Rae is 10 today, and she would LOVE for you to come rock climbing with her. The only present that she wants is your presence. Cost is $15 per climber." Parents would call me and tell me what a fabulous idea it was, and the parents who thought it was "tacky", who cares! The kids had a great time and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

Hope this helps!

Family Success Coach

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Little Ceasars (and maybe Cici's too) has 1 topping large pizzas for $5.55 each. They'll feed a crowd without breaking the bank & all things considered may be easier and more filling than bringing an assortment of snack foods.

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How about keeping your "cake served" notation on the card, but having one snack. How about several bowls of popcorn- talk about INEXPENSIVE and easy.
I make homemade kettle corn by filling my favorite medium sized Rival pan with a good layer of popcorn, and then I put 2-3 times as much oil over it. Put plenty of oil. I don't even have to shake the pan. I just put the heat on and let it pop until it slows to a 2 second no-pop. It fills up the whole pan and usually pops the lid right off... If it is still popping, i quickly dump half of it in the waiting mega bowl and put the lid back on and continue. When done I season it with plenty of salt and sugar. keep mixing it in and tasting it until its good,. then pour it into zip loc bags or a large tupperware with the snap lid. You can make it the night before, as long as you don't butter it. The high amount of oil in it will keep it fresh and palatable.

Make some coolaide and put it in thermos picnic jugs, if you dont have them borrow them. Get small paper cups and bring a sharpie to write names. Also bring a homedrawn jugs of ice water, and ice in a cooler. Don't spend hoardes of money on boxed and bottled drinks.

The kids WILL be hungry after swimming. Big batches of kettle corn can be a nice snack.
I also like to cut apples into quarter slices or smaller, seed them, and put the peices back together so that the apple is in its original shape, less its seed inards, then wrap them in foil. I put them in ziplocs. they are great to serve for hikes and picnics. try to make a quarter peice for each kid. Buying apples in the bulk bags may be cheaper.

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YES. if you can't afford to feed so many people, you shouldn't invite all of them. You can't have a party at lunchtime and not provide food. Imagine how you'd feel if you took you kids to a "party" at lunchtime and there wasn't any food. You'd have a car full of cranky, hungry kids (along with yourself).

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I agree with the moms that say you have to feed them - you would have to have it earlier (9-11 or even 10-12) or later (8-10) in order to avoid feeding people. Kids, especially little kids, will just get more unruly without non-sugary foods and the spirit of the party should be for everyone to have fun, not how many people you can have. I've asked friends with older kids about when to expect that kids will show up to parties without their parents, and it seems that now it's more like when they are closer to "tween" ages (10-12), so you are close to that, but not there yet. Sorry!

Pizza is always good and reasonable:) Plus, works for vegetarians too.

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Yes you need to feed them. You're having the party over the lunch hour, so it will be expected, especially since you're having children. I would plan something simple. You can get the really big subs from Subway for fairly reasonable. You can even get lots and lots of lunch meat, bread, condiments and make your own deli meat trays. We just did a lunch p arty for my daughter's 3rd birthday. I served sandwiches, a queso dip, chips and a veggie tray and, of course, cake and ice cream. It's lunch so you don't need to put on a HUGE spread. Just keep in mind that people will be hungry because they're swimming. You can count on the kids to just want the cake though! :D

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Because the party takes place right at lunchtime, you really should serve it. But, take heart! There are a few things you can do to help ease the expense of feeding a lot of people.

1. Make it a potluck. You said you are inviting her friends and HER family. These people are your family too. Talk to them. Let them know how many people are invited and ask that each adult family member bring a dish.

2. Talk to a few of your closer family members, explain the situation with the timing on the party being the only time you could schedule the party and ask them if, in lieu of a gift (since she'll be getting gifts from friends and I don't foresee a shortage there), maybe they could help pitch in for food to feed everyone lunch. I'm not sure how "in good taste" this is, but I'm betting you'd have a relative or two that would be willing to help with the expense.

3. Go cheap with hot dogs, store brand chips, and koolaide. Skip the soda (adults can bring their own and kids don't need it), koolaide is much more economical. Bar S hotdogs are really good and they are reasonably priced. Store brand chips are just as good as name brand, Kroger or Wal-Mart have the best.

Good luck and I really hope this helps! And wish that precious young lady a happy birthday from all us Mamapedia moms!

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If you have a party during a meal hour, then you need to provide food for everyone. Alot of pizza places have some really good deals on pizzas, so that may not cost you a fortune. If a really close family memeber(like your parents) want to help out, then you might ask them to help pitch in for the party as their present to the child. Good luck!

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The beauty of this is you have plenty of time to plan this out. I think you really need to consider providing a light lunch. With people leaving church and kids working up an appetite swimming, you could have some sick fishes if they get overly hungry. The easiest thing that I did for a party was to fix a crockpot with hotdogs and get buns, condiments and chips. You don't have to go any further than that, but it will at least provide something besides sugar. Hot dogs are cheap, and you can get buns at Mrs. Baird's bread store. Chips from Sams or Costco and some lemonade mix and you're all set!

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If you invite people for a party at a meal time you should serve a meal. If you need to trim down the list, then trim down the invitation list.
I know you are trying to give your daughter the kind of party she really wants, but cost is an issue. And if she has a very long guest list, part of the obligation in inviting them is feeding them. Goes with the territory, if you know what I mean. You do want your daughter growing up knowing about those types of things: cost, limits, work required.....otherwise, you are at risk to have a "princess."

There is a real awesome gymnastics place nearby us that all the kids want to go to for birthdays!!! But it costs $150 just to reserve the place for 90 min. And over 8 guests means you pay for a 3rd party host (@ $50 in addition). As much as my boys wanted their parties there, we could never swing it. They each got invited to a party there by friends, which had to be good enough.
I think they'll survive.

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Generally, if I have a party around lunch time, I provide lunch. However, being that it is a swim place, the kids will probably be busy swimming. You can always just put on the invitation "cake, ice cream, and light snacks will be served" and then people will know you aren't planning on serving a big lunch, but you should probalby have chips, maybe some finger sandwiches, fruit and veggie tray plus the cake and ice cream.

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If your party is during lunchtime, lunch is expected.

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I am a child entertainer and attend MANY birthday parties. When mom's host parties that fall within lunch or dinner times, then most mom's do have more than cake and ice cream.
Sorry that probably isn't the answer you wanted, but that is just what I have observed over the years.

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Lunch would be very nice considering the time of day. Maybe cutting back on the number of guests would allow you to serve lunch. Something easy - burgers and dogs? Pizza? Good luck!

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Boy...I know this is going to sound blunt, but if you cannot afford to throw a party, then don't throw it. Yes, your daughter will be disappointed because she REALLY wants it there. But it is not going to damage your daughter in anyway to tell her that the party will be held at home (preferably at a non-meal time.)

And don't get me started on the PP who actually CHARGED her guests for attending the birthday party. What is this world coming to? What has happened to manners and graciousness?

Everything you do is teaching your daughter something -- especially at your daughter's age. I think the question to ask yourself is what values do you want your daughter to learn during this event? That it's okay to put our own desires in front of other considerations? That we should spend money on unnecessary items for immediate gratification, despite financial constraints? That throwing a party should be focused ONLY on the guest of honor, without regard to the guests?

I'm sure you want to teach your daughter to be gracious and kind. Teach her by your example -- show her that part of friendship (and entertaining) is considering and meeting the needs of your guests. If you cannot afford to provide lunch during an 11:30am-1:30pm party, you should find another venue. I hope one of the sandwich/hot dog/sloppy joe/pizza options will work out for you, as they sound like great ideas.

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Unfortunately, yes. If I go to a party that is over the obvious lunch hour I expect that lunch will be served. It doesn't have to cost a lot, but it does have to be present. Especially with swimming kids - they will all be really hungry.

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Your party time is right through lunch time, so yes I think you need to provide lunch. Just do something east like ordering pizzas or subway sandwiches (or even make your own sandwiches and take them). Remember too that since it is on a Sunday, a lot of people might be coming straight from church without time to stop and eat. And is is a physically active party (swimming) which will make kids even more hungry.

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I think that YES, you have to feed everyone. Not to feed them would just be in poor taste.

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I do birthday parties for my kids and yes, during those hours, you are going to have to have food. Would your family be willing to do a pot luck? My family is always offering to bring something. What I was thinking is maybe filling a couple of crock pots with hot dogs, and just having buns, chips, and condiments. You could probably get away with spending less than $40 if you did that.

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Yes, if you expect people to come during lunch, then they expect to be fed. You could make tons of finger sandwiches to be more cost efficient.

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Yes, sorry, I do think you have to have lunch. However, the hot dogs or sloppy joes in the crock pot is a fantastic idea. Add chips and fruit and you're all set.

I am often amazed at how much little kids can eat, especially when it's something they like. My daughter's soccer picnic was a potluck affair, and I thought 2 packs of hot dogs and a pack of bratwurst would be enough since every family was bringing food. Ha! The kids all wanted hotdogs instead of the fried chicken and sandwiches and other stuff that the other parents brought and I ran out. I was so embarrassed. And that was at a picnic only, not at a soccer game where the kids had been running around. I can't imagine how hungry the kids would be after swimming and splashing in a pool.

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If you're going to invite guests and expect them to bring gifts, then yes you need to feed them.

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I would put on the invitation; "Cake and Ice Cream will be served" to give the parents a heads up that lunch will not be served. This will give the parents an opportunity to feed their family before they come to the party will will see the party as a "treat" or "dessert".

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Since it's a Sunday -- and it starts at 11:30 -- you have to consider that some may be coming straight from church services. So they will be hungry.
I think that if you have that time period - that whole time frame is considered lunchtime - then you should provide lunch. I really think that's party ettiquette if you have that party time.

Do something easy though like Little Cesear's Pizza ($5.50/pizza) -- that won't be such a big deal. And not everyone will RSVP yes. Most parents that stay for the party probably won't eat pizza. I never do at kid parties and I see most parents don't - I want to make sure the kids have more than enough. Although they usually get a piece of cake.

I'm just afraid that although you write "cake and ice cream" on the invitation, most will forget that part when party time comes -- but they won't forget start time of the party and they'll assume - oh, we can go straight to the party to feed kiddo lunch since it's a lunchtime party. And then they'll get there wondering - OK so when are we gonna eat?

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My daughters were invited to a birthday party a few years ago that was at someone's home and they had a jump house. They did not even have chips! I thought it was very rude. The only thing supplied was soda and then the cake and ice cream. The party started at 1pm. My kids were miserable and after jumping in the heat did not even want to eat the cake.

You do not have to have an elaborate spread, but you must have food. Even if it's just fruit, veggies and chips. If you want to have more food then a potluck is completely reasonable.

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We just recently had a pool outing at this exact time with our homeschool group (well on a Friday, not Sunday).

Swimming makes kids HUNGRY. Every single kid got out of the pool at some point to eat their lunch, I think not having food is not a good option.

Another note to add, I know you are inviting a lot of people, but given the time frame a lot of people might not show because most are still at church or just getting out at 11:30am.


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I think you should have lunch also. 7 year olds over the lunch hour will need to eat.

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Given the timing, there appears to be no choice but to serve lunch. The only possible alternative is to make it clear in the invitations that lunch will not be served so that guests will not arrive hungry and expecting lunch at lunch time. However, you do know how that will sound in the invitation.

Yes you do. So figure out what you can do cheaply.

Cake (make it at home) and icecream, and a big container of KoolAid.

You can either stop there... or... if you want to server more... figure out something you can make cheaply.... but will be nice for a Sunday afternoon.

How about a big pot of chili with 4 loafs of French bagette cut up in a basket?

Yes, of course. My daughter was invited to a party at 4:30. (In preperation, I fed her at 3:00). The mom served cake and ice cream at 5:00. No food. My daughter threw up all the way home.
If you are going to throw a party around a meal time, include food. Especially a pool party where they will be famished.
Or do your party at another venue. Kids will enjoy a party anywhere.
They are much more flexible than the adults.

yes you do have to provide food.
a few other things to think about: the goodie bags? i always throw those away.
homemade meals/sandwiches? i don't think it's the best idea. there are people who do not feel comfortable with homemade food. i imagine invitation says 1 kid/1 parent. so bring pizza for those people. there is usually leftover stuff. when my kids go to b-day parties i never eat as i want to make sure all kids have been fed. but i also do not want my kids to munch on ice cream or cake if they haven't been given food beforehand. your party seems costly so you may want to cut down on the number of people you're inviting or change the venue, but i don't see you not serving food and actually getting away with it.

I usually put it on the invitation that food isn't provided and just pick up some potato chips, or maybe some snack-y things. Maybe on the invites have the kids bring a sack lunch or something...make it like a picnic type thing? That sounds reasonable, I think. But for my 9 year old, I always just have chips, maybe a fruit and veggie tray, and a cheese tray with crackers. I never go overboard with the foods and spend as little as possible by, instead of buying the trays of pre-packaged foods, I prep it all myself. It's not as pretty but the kids don't care...Good luck with the party!

You really should provide something substantial for lunch. Pizza is pretty inexpensive or you could do (peanut butter/cheese/meat) sandwiches, grapes and chips.

With the timing, you really should offer something for lunch, but it can be simple. Consider having a few single topping pizzas, or offer deli trays of meats, cheeses, and veggies, with rolls or croissants. I wouldn't mind the Sunday hours, as our church offers and early service (9 am), which wouldn't conflict with your party, but if I were going from 11:30 until 1:30, I would appreciate some type of food other than cake. Again, doesn't have to be a sit-down, expensive meal, but your guests will enjoy themselves more if they aren't starving. Have fun!

IMO, since the party is being held during lunch, people will expect to be fed. Usually pizza and birthday cake is the typical menu. I would invite only as many people as you can afford to feed, or hold the party somewhere else that can accommodate you at a different time.

Have fun!


On the invitation, put serving ice cream & cake. Then they will know they need to eat before they come.

I see a lot people saying you that have to feed everyone. NO YOU DONT!!! I certainly would not expect it, and doubt that any parent would not understand the situation. We've all been there. In this economy, you do not need to put yourself into debt, just because your daughter wants a pool party. Just make sure everyone knows that is not lunch included, and take some of these other ideas and have some food there. People will understand.

I believe you can throw a party any way you want to. HOWEVER, if the party is at lunch time, you are generally expected to feed them lunch. I mean, it IS lunch time, and they are hungry. And it's not good for kids to only eat cake all day. If you don't want to feed them, have the party mid-afternoon. Then people know you don't intend to feed them other than cake and ice-cream.

You could get a huge thing of corn dogs or something from a cheap place like Costco.

Not exactly, but since it's over lunch, you should do something. It would be rude to have them there at lunch with no food. I would suggest that you make it potluck. Most people don't mind bringing a dish. And the general rule is that you make it big enough for your family plus one person, so that's not an outrageous amount for anyone to make or bring. Then if you really want to provide at least one food item you can do an h'or d'oeuvre plate. Just put cheese cubes, rolled meat slices, crackers, a few crunchy veggies. I don't have big parties for my kids, but I've been to parties and showers that were potluck. All the ones in my Sunday School class back in Georgia were potluck.

Yes you have to have lunch, but since the kids are going to be having so much fun swimming getting them to all sit down for a "meal" is probably going to be hard so I would just have finger foods (small sandwiches, fruit, chips, etc) available throughout the party and invite them to eat as they wish. The adults might sit and make a plate but the kids will probably come over have a little fruit and then go back to swimming.

Does the old rule about not swimming for an hour after eating a large meal still hold true? If so you wouldn't want to be providing a lot of heavy food during the party anyway.

Good luck,

Here's the thing. The kids are going to hit the pool the second they get there. You will have to drag them out to even have cake. I would do that at 12:45ish dry kids off get them seated and 1:00 serve cake and beverages and 1:30 out they go. It's the adults really. Because they will be sitting around doing really nothing. So a) you can make pool party just for the kids and their parents which a few pizza pies or veggie platters would do, or b) if your family must come to the pool party have the family help you out with finger foods. No one will die of starvation if the kids eat a late breakfast and eat a later lunch. That's just me and I get the whole "proper ettiquit(sp)" thing, but seriously the kids aren't going to eat. You could put on the invite eat a late breakfast because we will be serving cake and drinks at the party. My girlfriend had a party at a movie theatre it was at 10:30 she did serve pizza at the end of the movie becasue it was all inclusive, but a mom who showed up thought, actually assumed, breakfast would be served. Meaning you never know what people expect but if you write what you will be serving then the parents can make the decision on bringing a veggie bag for their kid or riding it out till the party is over. When I chrisitened my son we were B-R-O-K-E and the baptisim was at 12 and everyone would come back to my house after. I put on the invite Cake and Coffee will be served. They came they ate the cake and drank and the party was over at 2ish and people went and either ate or not. But no one said a word, no one was shocked. Do not stress yourself out! The party will be over in a blink of the eye.

Maybe next time you can consider having your party at Sweet and Sassy at the Garland Texas Location. www.sweetandsassy.com

I don't think you need to provide food. Yes, it is during the lunch hour, but I think it is totally acceptable not to serve food as long as you give advance notice. Maybe write on the invitation "cake and ice cream will be served", "after you've enjoyed your Sunday brunch join us for a pool party. We'll serve cake and ice cream", etc. If you feel you need to serve something maybe do beverages and veggie/fruit trays or snacks and note that on the invitations. I would not be offended at all as long as I knew what to expect. We all like to be good hostesses, but I don't think a birthday party needs to break the bank. The idea is to celebrate with the guest of honor and enjoy the company of all who attend. Good luck to you.

yes, lunch would be expected, but I would just do something inexspendive and simple. I would only feed the guest not there parents. Hotdogs and pigs ina blanket work well too.

I hate to say it but since it's right in the middle of lunch time, you would need to at least feed the children...maybe pizza-something easy. I've gone to a couple of bday parties where it was either lunch or dinner time & the kids weren't fed & I thought it was kind of (for lack of a better word)-wrong. Good luck!

Bummer that the only time they had was lunch time. I really liked the first idea of hot dogs, buns, and some fruit.
BUT, you don't have to serve lunch. It would be nice to have some snack trays. I never buy the already made ones, I make them myself. You could probably get away with a veggie tray (you prepared) a fruit tray (you prepared) and a cheese and cracker tray (you prepare). Also, you didn't mention, but are you going to make the cake or purchase it? Make it and you will save quite a bit more. Maybe one chocolate and one vanilla.
I would probably put something on the invitation like "We will have snack trays on hand, and cake and ice cream at 1:30." that way the parents know that they are not coming to eat. There are parents like that!
To the woman who said it would only be an extra $100....that's nuts! When we do my sons party, I am very careful about how we spend our money, but it ALWAYS is about $300 to get enough food for everyone (of course, we do carne asada, chicken, beans, rice...the meat is super expensive). It's not your responsability to be in the poor house the month before and after her party.
Do what is right for YOUR family, don't worry about what others think!

yes i agree with the others that you need to have lunch there...just do chips and sloppy joes in a crock pot!!! easy and done!!!

If i were you, taking into consideration alllllllllll the circumstances you are working with, I would have a house party for the extended family and limit the pool party to school friends. Your family should understand, but i strongly strongly feel you need to feed the people at the pool party.

Well, we were invited to a birthday party at a park. The invite said to come and go as you please and bring your own picnic lunch....... I found it rude. I'm assuming they weren't even going to serve cake since they said to come and go as you want. I felt it was a bring your present and leave sort of thing. We did NOT go.

BUT, your party is from 11:30 to 1:30. Put on the invites that CAKE AND ICE CREAM will be served and that should imply that lunch won't. If you really feel you should/need to serve something just have sandwiches and chips! That would be relatively cheap. (Watch for the ham or ? on sale. Do some pb and J.) Have the sandwhiches premade. You could make on a large 'cooler' of kool-aid for quite cheap as well. If you can't bring the food IN to the pool place, just have a picnic outside after.

I personally WOULD feed everyone. I couldn't hold a party over lunch and not. Since I find it rude, I wouldn't want to do it to others........

My feeling is that yes, you should serve lunch because you are having the party entirely during the lunch period. If the party ended at 12, I would say you could get away with no food. Look for sales, check out thegrocerygame.com. I usually get my packages of Ball Park All Beef Hot Dogs for 1.50 to 2.00 when they are on sale. I don't think you need to stuff them, but you should offer something.

I usually just get several pounds of lunch meat (what's on sale) and cheeses and make my own trays and then go to a Mrs. Baird's outlet and get a variety of breads, a bottle of mustard, and a jar of mayo. Then I get a few pounds of grapes, some pre-sliced apples, something healthy, and then some type of chips (the popcorn idea sounds good). Then have jugs of lemonade ready.
It's usually less than $100 and the parents always feed the kids first.
It's better to go the extra expense than to feel embarrassed by serving nothing.
A friend of mine told me to always think food groups and have something from each. I found that very helpful when planning what to serve at a party.

Unless you put "bring a sack lunch" or something like that on the invitation, at that time of day I personally would expect lunch to be provided. We have ordered the sandwich rings at Wal-Mart before and they are $20 and serve 30-40 (precut them yourself) they are really good. Good luck!

I would expect some some of lunch to be served. I'm just thinking about if my daughter received that invitation I would not want to stuff her right before swimming but then she would be really hungry after swimming.

And the time (even tho you really didn't have a lot of choice there) in and of itself says that lunch will be served. I know my kids would be super cranky by 1:30 if they only had cake and a few chips or crackers to eat.

If you choose not to serve lunch I would make sure parents know this up front. If you don't tell them, you may not be making any new friends lol!!

I personally do not like having a party during a "meal time" without feeding people but I totally know what you are talking about. Just a family party (close family, not extended to cousins,etc and no friends invited) is over 25 people for us so feeding everyone is a major expense. Also I try to have my children eat something before a party unless I know for sure food will be served because I don't want them eating cake and icecream on an empty stomache. My middle daughter especially can not do that or she will be sick. However since your party is on Sunday and many people maybe coming straight from church they may not have time for even a snack. So you should consider feeding all those people.
If you really do not want to serve food don't but you should probably put on the invitation that only cake and icecream will be served that way parents will know to eat first (even if its PB&J in the car on the way to the party).
Hope this helps :)

You absolutely don't have to serve food. I would mention on the invite that we will be having cake or cupcakes either one after swimming. I myself would do cute cupcakes as that is easier to hand out. My daughter did my granddaughters at libby lu's one year. after they were done she simply handed each kid a treatbag and prewrapped cupcake. parents loved the fact they could just take off with them.

We have a huge family & always feed everyone.Now the kids are getting into school we will also have friends invited as well so we will feed them & parents too.I personally have no issue on feeding them I do all my parties @ 12 no earlier & always put Lunch served on invite.I don't like to go to a party where we have to buy our food @ a restaurant plus no cake.

Can you make and take??? if so pasta and salad is your cheap way out! Some with sauce and some with butter and cheese. I would also look into Greek pizza ....Those really large one s that you can get 40 slices out of for like 24 dollars. That with a Caesar Salad.....your golden! Good luck!

I just read the hot dog Idea.......thats a good one also!

I say yes, because of the time slot you do. You can go with a "volume" food that is cheap though, it doesn't have to be fancy. You can do the $5 pizza mia's from Pizza Hut.... But Pizza, a long sub sandwhich, or even things like a bag of meatballs from Sams in a crockpot and sides and such.....but you have to have something....

I always do hot dogs and chips...no really expensive but offers something.
I dont know the etiquette of the situation. Its kids, they usually love hot dogs..the adults just need to adjust to the fact its a kids party.

Yes - if you have something during lunch hours, people will arrive hungry expecting to eat. But can you bring food in? You could do trays of sandwiches, or trays of meat and cheese. Or make chili or gumbo (I'm from Louisiana, so gumbo is my go to - and it's super cheap and feeds alot of people) - there are economical ways to feed a large group that you should explore.

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