Party Planning Advice

Updated on August 23, 2010
N.R. asks from Naples, FL
5 answers

Hi moms! I have a tricky situation here. My daughter is about to be 6, and I'm planning her birthday party. She lives in a pretty adult world, having to go to work with us each day after school, and quite often on weekends (a couple a month) we are traveling due to my husband's business we are at race tracks on the weekends. She really is quite good, and everyone is always complimenting her and us on how well behaved, sweet, and smart she is. :-) I can't really afford to spoil her stupid all the time, but I kind of blow it out for her birthday party each year. We've been to Chuck E Cheese, had bowling parties, had ponies (twice), made build a bear want to be Dalmation puppies as favors, and last year had a fairy party. At the fairy party, I had a face painter, and had made very elaborate fairy outfits for each girl, complete with tulle skirt, fairy wings, halo, and fancy flower wand. Each girl left with a little favor bag that had a couple of chocolates, a couple of good luck tokens and a little bottle of fairy dust. I made it pretty clear while handing out invitations that RSVPs were important as I was making fairy costumes/favors for each girl. Well, party day comes, and one child that rsvpd did not show, and one that did came with an older sibling. The mom with the extra child asked me point blank in front of several children including her own – if I had a costume for the older child. This was my daughter’s 5th birthday – and we had invited the girls from her preschool class. This older child was like a 3rd grader. Since I had the one no show – I did end up with an extra – which I promptly gave her. She fell ill immediately afterwards, and they had to leave the party early. On Monday when I dropped my daughter at pre-k there was a note from the no show with a gift saying that one of her other children ended up throwing up Saturday morning and had strep and she didn’t think that we would want her showing up with all that mess. I felt terrible – so I raced home and made another costume and favor bag. Thankfully I had some extra left over tulle at home! So……when it was time for pick up – I met the other mother right away and said that I had something in the car for her daughter – and she let me take her out and dress her up etc. while she was talking to the teacher. When mom met back up with us we told her that we had missed her at the party but understood etc… etc.. The NEXT day – while picking my daughter up at the extended care side of the school – I noticed one of my fairy costumes in the dress up area! I asked the director – and she said that mom of 2 girls had brought it in and donated it – her older daughter had “outgrown” it. Whaaaaaat? She just ASKED for it 3 days prior! Kind of rude I thought – but I didn’t say anything. I also caught a little bit of flack last year from a mother of a boy – because we had only invited the girls from the class. I had kept it low key while putting invitations in kids tote boxes – but she had overheard me talking at a class party to one of the little girls mother.
Any way – this year, we are having a magician. I usually host the parties at a park and rent a gazebo – but the magicians aren’t crazy about doing their thing outside – too many variables – weather, bugs, wind, stray people, etc.. So this year I’m having it at a small family owned pizza place. We are going about 1:00 ish – according to them that’s perfect as the lunch rush is over, they are dead, making dough, sauce etc. getting ready for dinner rush so we can have the whole place to ourselves and buy some pizzas and drinks. PERFECT! So…..this is the dilemma – we are inviting all 18 kids from her class, + a couple of friends from outside of school, my best friend with her 2 girls, my brother and his 3 kids (cousins), and the grandparents –(5). Can you see where this is going? We are already at like 40 people WITHOUT other parents and siblings. I don’t really expect 100% turn out from her class and that’s fine. But I can’t really afford to pay for food and drinks for a zillion extras that mean nothing to my daughter. I have paid $25 for an FBI background check so that I can volunteer in my daughter’s class, and have had a background check so that I can volunteer in her scout troop as well. I’m not even inviting the 21 girls in her scout troop or the 14 in her ballet class – it’s just too many people and my daughter is ok with this – so rather than cherry picking from each group – she decided to go with the entire class and mums the word at the other events. I’ve already told a few people that I’m sure would come to save the date. I’m planning pretty nice favors – top hats and magic tricks. I’ve already had one mom ask about bringing the older sibling as she has nobody else to watch him on the weekends. I don’t know how to tell her – that she can watch him as I’m expecting the 6 year old to be dropped off – can’t really afford to feed 3 people for every 1 that we invite. I’m thinking of having my best friend at the door with a list with each kids name – and she can ask the moms for a cell #, the party is expected to be about 2 hours etc…..Deb is an FBI approved volunteer at the school (they all know this – they see me there) due to space limitations we don’t really have a lot of room because we need to make sure that Holly’s family is here too.
So………what do you think? Thanks for your advice on this one!

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answers from Saginaw on

We had the opposite problem at our kids' parties: parents expecting 2+ hours of free babysitting in exchange for a gift. Since I wasn't interested in hosting a party and running a daycare simultaneously, we always put 'please bring a parent' on the invites.'

I always appreciated the kids having their own people to work through any anxiety or upset with, leaving me to just deal with my kids and the party stuff.

We were heretics, though. We had a rule that the kids could only invite the number that they were turning --so if they were turning 9, they could invite 9. We never invited a whole class of anyone, mostly because our kids had friends from so many different places (girl guides, gymnastics class, dance class, acting classes, family friends, etc) that they had to be really selective. I always wanted my kids to know that their events (and their home) were 'theirs' so they had every right to invite (or not) the people they wanted (or didn't want) to host.

We never fed people --we timed the parties for after lunch and well before dinner, and indicated on the invite that there would be cake and ice cream, with tea and coffee for parents. We always had enough cake for parents, too, but didn't advertise it. Mostly, the food rules came from knowing so many people with restricted diets (celiacs, vegans, vegetarians, allergies, etc.) and the range of 'picky kid' eaters, that it wasn't enough fun for us to try to accommodate everyone.

Because we didn't invite whole classes of people we barely knew, the girls often invited all the kids from a family in the first place, so unexpected siblings never came up.

I actually can't really imagine not being incredibly rude to someone who appeared at a party uninvited and then expected to be 'included' --particularly to the parent who started it. Can you imagine doing that? 'Hi, I found out you were having a party, do you have a costume for me?' Sheesh.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you could indicate on the invitations that you will be taking a list of cell phone #'s for those moms who choose to drop off. But some parents just won't do that. As for the "dreaded" sibling issue--what I have done when asked...what about so-and-so...I say, well if you think you can keep him corralled while the bigger guys are playing.....otherwise, maybe another mom can pick up and drop of your child?
Some parents won't be comfortable dropping their kid off and leaving and you can't force it. But I don't think the parents expect to be fed if they are staying by their choice. They can always order and pay for a slice and a drink for themselves if they want. I have done that at parties. But it is always nice to offer food, and I usually try to order enough for the parents too....what's a couple of extra large pizzas? $30? Probably worth it. God luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You are such a ignorant b.... to say the least. What kind of education do u even have to be commenting on my spelling!!!! I am an A student as hard as it sound.... learn to talk to others as you would like to be talked.



answers from Portland on

Wow. This is all very dramatic, and most of what is explained seems to be very ungracious on your part.



answers from Detroit on

i have actually mastered party planning in a thrifty but extravagant way!! here is what I do because we have big families on top of friends inside and outside of the classroom, i find myself in the same situation. I have a larger house but u could do it anywhere u saw fit, I do all the invites, I will go and get the decorationg theme of my daughters choice, then hit the dollar store for streamers, banners, balloons, etc. Do all invites write in parents welcome, with smaller kids it usually makes them more comfortable. Ask that whoever is attending bring a dish of your choice, you will provide the main dish, u could have ppl bring apps, pop, chips, sides, desserts whatever! and there is plenty of food and it's a blast! I arranged games and prizes and gift bags we had a pinata it was a blast. plus while the kids play all the parents can get to know eachother, it is fun and dosen't cost tons and ppl understand when u have alot of ppl it's gets expensive....have fun!

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