At What Age Is It OK to Drop off a Child at a Birthday Party?

Updated on March 23, 2012
K.L. asks from Erie, PA
21 answers

I need a sanity check. I recently took my five year old to a ChuckECheese birthday party and was shocked by the number of parents who just dropped off their children and left. Yes, my son is one of the youngest in his class, so many of his friends are well over six. Do people do this regardless of the venue or only because they believe ChuckECheese to be a "safe" place for their child? Part of the reason for this question is because I'm just curious about what most parents do. The other reason is that we were planning to invite the whole class to a birthday party for our boys in May, and I can't imagine being responsible for that many kids. Do I bag the party (disappointing the little ones), make a note about supervision on the invitation (showing my crazy OCD side to all the other parents) or is there another option? Thanks for your help~

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the insight. I guess it isn't all that uncommon to have drop-off parties at this age. I had no intentions of hosting at ChuckECheese (I hate that place regardless, but definitely not for a birthday). Since we have no family in the area, I'll have to decide whether to limit the number of invitees or to put something on the invitation. Glad I know what to expect. Thanks, mamas!

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answers from Boca Raton on

-I would NEVER drop my 5 year old off at Chuck E Cheese (hate that place, lol)....
-If it was at someone's HOUSE and I knew the parents well, then I would...
-If I didn't know the parents well, I probably wouldn't drop them off at a birthday party until about 8....



answers from Philadelphia on

We started going to and hosting drop-off parties in kindergarten, so I guess 5 - 6yrs old is about right.

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answers from St. Louis on

I think it is all about area. My kids had their first friend birthday parties when they were four and everyone dropped their kids off. Maybe my kids and their friends behave differently but I had no trouble keeping track of 20 four year olds.

A place like Chuck e cheese I would probably have asked a few friends to help me keep an eye on them but then I hate Chuck e Cheese so my kids had a better chance of winning the lottery than having a party there. :p

Thing is I have a voice, if it seems like a lot of parents are hanging around and I wasn't planning on it I ask, do you need me to stay. If I need a parent or two to stay, again I use my words and say, do you mind staying and helping me out.

At least to me it is not a matter of age but venue and the needs of the parents.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think it depends on the maturity level of the child, the type and location of the party, the number of kids invited, etc. I've done both--if it was a situation I trusted I started dropping my kids at about kindergarten. At least twice I've stayed when I wasn't asked to, but felt I should. When my youngest was in 1st grade a female classmate invited the ENTIRE class (boys and girls) to a sleepover. I never intended to let him stay for the sleepover part, but once I got to the house and saw adults smoking, a pit bull in the garage and a broken swingset I decided to just stay. The party was primarily outside or we wouldn't have stayed at all because of signs of smoking (we have asthma in the family).

When I host a party in which I don't feel comfortable with "dropping" I make it very clear in the invitation that I need help and ask parents to let me know if they can stay to help or even sometimes provide transportation. I would put a note on the invitation asking for help. Who cares if they think you have OCD tendencies? Another option is to invite adult family members of your own to help supervise--aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

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answers from Spokane on

My son is almost 8 and I still stay at parties with him. One reason is that I enjoy the company of his friends' parents, many have become our friends. The other is that he is my responsibility and I know that sometimes he can be a bit of a handful (he is very hyper and loud at times ~ he is working hard on controlling his impulses) and I don't want another parent having to deal with it when they are trying to throw a party.

If you want parents to stay add "please plan to stay with your child" on your invite.

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answers from Honolulu on

In ALL the parties we have attended... that were held at a venue like Chuck E Cheese... the Host of the party.... ALWAYS ALWAYS... stated IN the invitation.... that parents can stay or drop off. BUT.... the invitation ALSO stated, that the Host/the Husband/and other relatives, WILL BE THERE at the party, in order to SUPERVISE the children. AND attend to them, per bathroom needs etc. AND that, the parents are responsible for leaving their contact phone number WITH the Host of the party. Too.
OR if the parents stay.... the Host is only paying for lunch, for the kids who attend. And not other people that the parents may drag along with them to the party, uninvited.
AND the invitation states (in order to control head counts) that: "Your child and ONE parent, is invited to the party." If others attend, lunch is not provided.
And of course, the RSVP deadline is stated AND a phone number and e-mail address.

And no, a single parent/Host of a party like that, cannot be responsible for a WHOLE group of kids. By themselves.

AND, as an attendee of the party, since you are the Parent, you simply contact the Host of the party, and ASK about supervision at the party and IF there will be enough "Adults" there, to supervise all the kids. That is what I do.

I personally, only drop off my kids at parties:
1) if they are comfortable with that
2) IF I know the family VERY well and my kids know them VERY well.
3) And IF I know... that there will be other Adults there/of the Host... that is there to supervise the kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Last year I put "parents are encouraged to stay " . This year , I forgot and a mom left her 3 1/2 and 5 year old. I almost fell over . =0)

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answers from Atlanta on

I'd say Kindergarten. Though, I don't feel Chuck E Cheese is safe, so that location I would stay.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I just dropped DS off at his first alone party - it was Build A Bear - and they had 3 BAB employees plus 3 adults supervising maybe 12 kids. I was fine with it. I have a pool party for my son's birthday - parents will be staying if they expect their kids to swim until at least middle school and likely later.



answers from St. Louis on

for our family, it was KG.


answers from Washington DC on

If the party is at their home, then just this year I have been dropping my daughter off who just turned 7. We just had her party here at our home and not even 1 parent stayed. We had 12 kids total here and it was CRAZY! If there was a party that was an on location party like chuck e cheese, then I would stay. My daughter is invited to a pool party next month and even though she can fully swim on her own (and has been for 3 years now), I am still staying. For me, it just depends on where the party is.


answers from Houston on

Around 7 if its a close friend with only less than maybe 5 kids and it is at their home, but usually I would stay. But at a busy place like that I would even stay if they were a few years older older.

I like the idea to include on the invite, "please plan to stay with your child".



answers from Seattle on

At 4 or 5 yo, it is not atypical to have drop off parties. I'm not sure how that would work at a public venue like Chuck E Cheese, though.

We've invited a bunch of girls to my dd's 5th birthday party. I'm hoping that at least one parent stays (and two would be even better). That said, I didn't specify it and most at-home parties at this age seem to be drop off. There is one parent who asked and is a little concerned. I let her know that she is more than welcome (encouraged even!) to stay for the party.

In summary, it depends on the kid, the parents, and the venue.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would say the invitation is for the child and one parent. Then if asked make sure the parents know you expect to not be providing free babysitting.



answers from Dallas on

For me it's all about how old my child is, where the party is at, how many other kids are projected to attend and how far away it is from my house.

The last birthday party my 5yo was invited to was a swimming party at the rec center, darn right I stuck around, I kept a close eye on my daughter as it was very crowded that day. But, the party before that was at a neighbors house with only 6 other little girls so I felt comfortable in leaving her there, it was a pizza and movie party so not a big deal.

My son, who is 8 gets invited to big venues all the time, the last one being at a trampoline place and because the parent couldn't reserve the place and make it a private party, I did stick around to make sure he was ok just in case he did get hurt. The party before that, I also stuck around because it was at a nature museum and I wasn't sure if my son would have anxiety over the animals they bring into the party--I was right, he came out of the party room and asked if he could sit by me, lol!! If he didn't have such horrible anxiety towards small, furry animals, I probably would have felt comfortable leaving him as it was done in a very structured fashion so none of the kids could get lost.

But for a 5/6yo party, I wouldn't be offended at all if you put on the invite, "parents are welcome to stay" or "Please let me know if you'd be willing to stay and help supervise". It's a very resonable request:)



answers from Erie on

When my daughter turned seven we had it at a local pool, all the parents stayed and swam, but when we had a halloween\birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese, no one stayed. Yeah, I think it does have to do with the venue.



answers from Savannah on

I wouldn't drop off before age 5, and that would be IF the parents asked me to. I guess it depends on the venue and type of party.That's only happened once out of like 12 parties, but my good friend was having a Polar Express PJ party for a few 5 year olds. They made ornaments, cookies, played a game, watched Polar Express in their sleeping bags, then we picked him up. But, she's a friend of mine who flat said "big boys only" because she wanted the kids to have fun, then wind down in the evening as they watched the movie. It made sense to me and was at their home, so that was my first time to drop him off. I would not drop my kids off at a public venue, even if it meant I stay off to the side in a waiting room or something, unless I'm good friends with the parents throwing the party. Chuck E Cheese is fun, but a HANDFUL when I have just my own 2 boys! I would offer to assist the hosts.
I would not have any shame about saying on an invitation "Please no drop offs" or whatever if that's not what you want. OR request assistance from a few parents. At my home, I wouldn't mind children being dropped off that are 5yrs old and up, but I like to provide adult food/beverages and while the kids are playing take some time to better know the parents of my sons' friends if they're willing to stay. There would be no future sleepovers or whatever unless I knew the parents beforehand, so it just makes sense to me.



answers from Albuquerque on

Around here, people don't drop their kids off until they're 7 or 8 for a house party. And I don't even know for a party at a place like Chuck E Cheese. Definitely older than 5 or 6!! Probably more like 10.



answers from Kansas City on

Wow when I read your headline I thought it might be a house party, but at Chuck E Cheese, no way would I drop my kid off. Unless he's like 10 haha. Or if he was younger maybe take my family there too and just supervise my kid that way. Maybe you can write on the invite 'chaperones appreciated' or something like that, so they know there won't be much supervision without them. Or do you have a few moms that you are close with that can help you out? Good luck


answers from Los Angeles on

You just have to google Chuck E Cheese and brawls/fights and see what comes up, lol! I can't stand that place and would never ever drop my kid off there, especially a 5 year old.

My 6 yo is turning 7 in May; we're doing a bowling party. I'm going to clearly state on the invite that parents are welcome to stay, but that there will be 9 adults in attendance and 10 kids total, so it is up to them.

I think it's a good idea to evaluate each party invitation/location and make a decision based on that, instead of age.



answers from Dallas on

I am amazed at how many drop their kids off. I would defenetly put that there is no drop offs.

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