October 17, 2009,
S.S. asks from Littleton, CO on October 14, 2009
Bowling Birthday - How to Keep Costs down & Invites
Alright... I am not sure how to broach this question. My son's 5 year old birthday is coming up. All year, he has been talking about wanting a bowling birthday party, which we think is a great idea & we would love to provide for him! Every other year, we have had his birthday party at our home & invited his friends (plus their parents and siblings). So this is our first year to have his party out of our home. Now that my son had friends at his school, plus his outside of school friends..... We have whittled the list down to 12 kids & these are kids who he is really good friends with who would really want to be there.
I have heard that if you have a birthday party outside of the home, it is pretty much assumed that you should invite & pay for the parents & siblings of the invitee to eat & play (bowl in our case). We can afford our birthday boy & his 12 friends, but not the siblings & parents to eat & bowl. We totally don't mind if extra people come, but we just can't pay for them. I feel like I am coming across as rude and cheap.
Is that rude of me to not include the parents & siblings in our budget? If not, how do I go about getting the message across on the invite that the invitee will be paid for and the parents will have to take care of themselves & the siblings?
I am really stressing about this since I really want to provide this bowling party for him. Thoughts? Anyone else been in the situation?
Thanks for your thoughts!
T.W. answers from Denver on October 15, 2009
I am not sure who ever told you that parents and siblings are included in an out-of-the-home birthday party. I have three kids and not once did I expect nor did the parents offer to pay for me and the siblings at any birthday parties. You typically send and invitation to the child that is invited and it is customary to pay for that child and that is it. If the parents and siblings want to play they can pay for themselves.
Now that being said, you do want to offer enough cake and drinks for the siblings and parents but that is it.
Good luck and don't worry, you should be just fine paying for the 12 which is a HUGE amount of kids you are paying for in the first place.
J.K. answers from Denver on October 17, 2009
Look into packages that local bowling alleys have for birthdays. At our alley, it was based on the number of lanes. Make sure you get enough lanes! 5 year olds just want to bowl, not wait around to bowl. My son loved his bowling party so much that he wanted it 2 years in a row.
As for the number of invitees, I think it is what you can handle. I invited very close neighbors to help me and paid for them to bowl and eat. My son's birthday is Dec. 20th and we invited the whole preschool class, 14 kids, thinking that most would not be able to come due to the holidays. Everybody showed up even after the 4 feet of snow we had gotten the day before! :) One of the best parties I have ever thrown.
The parents hung around to bowl and the bowling alley had a cheaper rate for them. I did end up getting an extra pizza, but that really did not seem to blow my budget.
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S.B. answers from Denver on October 15, 2009
I wanted to agree with both points other moms are making - Ive never paid for other parents or siblings for either of my kids' birthday parties, and 12 kids is too many for a five year old. I agree with the premise of one kid per year - so 4 or 5 guests plus your son would be the max. You could ask another parent to stay to help with supervision, and it would be polite to feed that parent but I wouldn't expect them or any other parent to play - only to supervise the kids. You want to focus on keeping the kids happy and not overwhelmed, and I think 12 five yr olds could be a recipe for disaster in a noisy bowling alley.
R.S. answers from Denver on October 15, 2009
S.: I don't know how you feel about it, but 12 kids is an awful lot for a 5 yr old party. Not only is it the expense but then your child is overwhelmed that day with all the people, the gifts AND the thank you notes (I make my son write his own thank you notes for EVERY gift he is EVER given)
We have a policy he can invite as many friends as years old he is. this year he is turning 8 so he will get to invite 8. That means 5-6 will show up. It's a good group of kids that he can really spend time with and enjoy their company. at the bowling alley it would mean you only need one lane (cost reduction) and you would probably only need one pizza (cost reduction).
Are birthday parties about how many kids they can invite, call their "friends" and get gifts from or is it spending time with their few really good friends and enjoying that time together? You don't need to feel like you have to pay for anyone else other than who you are inviting. You aren't inviting the parents and the siblings you are inviting THAT SPECIFIC child. Don't get stressed about it. Just decide what you can do and do ONLY that! Good luck!
M.M. answers from Denver on October 15, 2009
Wow, we've never paid for adults. I did have one mother insist we include the little boy's twin brother (which was fine) - but since alcohol is served at bowling alley's that's the "perk" the adults get and they pay their own way. We've gotten pizza at ours and sometimes a parent takes a piece - but after the kids have eaten first - and that's fine.
I think telling parents that you're focusing on letting the kids play is a good way to address this - if it comes up at all.
Just a note too - we have better luck with costs with a little independent bowling alley (Elitch Lanes in NW Denver) than with the big bowling alleys - which seem inexpensive until you add it all up.
K.S. answers from Denver on October 15, 2009
Sounds like a fun party! You absolutely don't need to worry about siblings or adults. The invitation will be made out to the child, and that is who you would pay for. By age 5, most parents probably assume they are dropping their child off for the party and picking up after. If they feel like they want to stay to keep an eye on their kid (being overprotective myself I might have hung around just to keep myself from going crazy) they will probably let you know that they would like to stay. I would be surprised and offended if they strapped on a pair of bowling shoes and started eating on your dime. Really not likely. If someone does want to stay and you're worried about the money, just pre-emptively say something like "that's great, we'll see you there- and you can probably get a cheaper rate if you pay with our party if you are wanting to bowl". Something that says you're fine if they stay, but clearly avoiding any money issues.
Again, I really wouldn't worry. Most will probably just drop off and pick up. You are not being rude and cheap at all. I have never heard of anyone trying to bring themselves and siblings and expect the host to pay.