Paying for a Party - 5 Year Old

Updated on September 05, 2018
M.C. asks from Chula Vista, CA
22 answers

My five year old is deadset on having her birthday party at legoland. We have no problem paying for her four child guest but should we expect to pay for their parents as well? We are willing to allow parents to just drop off their children (or to pick them up and drop them off) but I figured at least a parent or two might want to stay?

Lunch, a snack, cake and party favors as well as extras at the park are covered for the children on the list.

Also what about siblings? My daughter is an only child so I’ve never had to think about siblings during a party, do I need to make it specific that only the invited children will have a paid for ticket?

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answers from San Francisco on

You are the parent, you set the boundaries. Have you ever been to Legoland? It's a major amusement park. It's a full day, lots of waiting in line and not easy for drop off/pick up. How do you handle a crying, tired five year old who wants to go home but mom and dad aren't there? Do you just shut down the party and leave?
The money is secondary, if you can afford it, great, but you need to think logistics.
If my very young child was "dead set" to have a Legoland birthday I would tell her she could invite one friend, preferably a friend who had already spent time with the family, a child who knows you well and will feel okay being taken care of you if they get scared or tired or just overwhelmed.
And no siblings are not included most of the time, unless they are cousins or very good family friends (though these days everyone feels so entitled and over the top you may need to specify that in the invite.)

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I personally would not have the party at such a huge venue.
I would take her and possibly one friend.
If you do decide to go through with this venue & all these kids, I would let the parents come and just word the invitation that they are welcome to come but you are only able to pay for their child, not the parents or a sibling.

7 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

"My five year old is deadset".... Haha!! If you're taking orders from the tiny boss now, just wait til she is thirteen!

Going to Legoland with ONE five-year-old sounds're proposing to go to Legoland with FIVE five-year-olds....?!

If Legoland is definitely going to be part of the plans, I would say either go to Legoland with your daughter and one friend (with or without the friend's parents), or, bring your daughter to Legoland alone and have a cake party with her group of friends at another time.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

First of all, 5 year olds (and 10 year olds) don't get to decide on the location of the party or be dead set on it. They can request or weigh in, but parents make decisions. If a location is going to get out of hand (or out of budget), then it's a place for a family trip on another day, and you have the party where you can manage it. We always had them at home until age 8 (scavenger hunts, potato races, etc.), then had a few kids for bowling at a candlepin place with a free party room (BYO cake and pizza). We absolutely resisted the pressure to break the bank of venue parties. And after years of reading Mamapedia posts from parents who found rude parents insisting that siblings should stay and that RSVPs weren't necessary, I'm even more convinced that we did the right thing.

Second, have the party you can afford. We kept parties small - when my son was 5, he could have 5 friends. When he was 8, 8 friends. It's a good rule. So you invite the children you want and very specifically word the invitation for drop off and pick up times. Address it to the invited child only, not the family. You can put a note at the bottom saying that your daughter really hopes that Petunia can come. It's up to you to have enough adults to supervise. If it's you and your husband or your sister, then only have the kids you can supervise yourself. If her friends are too young or afraid to stay without their own parents, then these are the wrong guests or this is the wrong location.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

If your child wants to go to Legoland for her birthday, then perhaps you can take her and one special friend, as long as you know the friend's parents and as long as it's ok with the parents. You pay for your daughter's guest. It doesn't have to be a formal party - it can just be a day at the theme park, with lunch and perhaps a souvenir gift for each child from the park.

However, the thought that she is "deadset" on a particular party at an expensive setting is troubling.

After all, taking four kids who are about 5 years old to a massive theme park requires chaperones, and that means extra people and coordination, so that everybody stays together, etc. It's a lot of planning and a lot of expense. Some parents might not be able to afford Legoland.

It gets tricky when party invitations are extended to people you aren't closely familiar with. Parents assume siblings are included, or assume that their ticket to a big venue is included.

But perhaps what is most worrisome here is that your 5 year old is driving the party bus, so to speak. You're setting a big precedent here, allowing her to choose the party place and to be deadset on it. At age 5 she should not be organizing her own party, or insisting on such an elaborate party. Or else, buckle in and prepare to have every subsequent birthday be a more and more demanding event. Keep things as simple as you wish, and don't be afraid to be realistic and firm with your daughter.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think that you are being naive. I don't see how Legoland is a drop off party for 5 year olds. Can you really handle four 5 year olds at Legoland by yourself? What do you do when they want to go different directions or, without asking, just run different directions? I had a drop off party for five 5 year olds at my house and was exhausted and done in after 2 hours. It's like herding cats.

I think you either have your daughter invite 1 good friend to Legoland (in which case you talk directly to the other parent and explain that you are inviting just the daughter) because it is reasonable to expect that you can keep track of 1 extra kid. OR you re-think this whole idea. There are a lot of (bad) ideas your child may be dead-set on over the years, but that doesn't mean you have to say YES to them.

If you are really REALLY convinced that you can do this, you could word it this way "Jaden is invited to Mary's birthday party at Legoland on XXX. You can drop her off at our house at XX o-clock and pick her up at XX o-clock. If you would like to meet us at the park, additional Legoland tickets for your family are available on the Legoland website at a cost of $X per ticket." I have seen this wording on invitations that have gone out to my kids' sports teams, and everyone seems to understand that the kid is paid for but additional family members are welcome to attend at their own cost.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I would let my child invite one special friend to a big amusement park like Legoland. Then go and have a nice day. If the child's parents want to come they can pay for themselves. If the parents come they can bring a sibling and pay for that sibling, but no, you are not to pay for siblings. That is not who you invited. I find people who assume the sibling is invited to be really annoying...luckily not many parents are that cheeky! If the parents don't go it is a win for them - they get free babysitting for the day! I personally would not invite 4 kids to an all day amusement park...that sounds like too much of a hassle.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, M.

If you are going to have a birthday party for your 5 year old at Lego Land? I wouldn't leave my 5 year old at a theme park. I would expect the host to pay for my ticket and that of my child.

NO SIBLINGS - if siblings come? They can pay for themselves.

It's an extravagant party for a 5 year old. Why would you expect people to drop a five year old off at a HUGE theme park?? I might offer to pay for my ticket, but really. it's a tad over the top for a 5 year old.

I would suggest that my child ask her "best friend" and take him/her to the park for the day.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

She’s 5 years old... she should not be calling the shots. You are the parent.

Sure, give her choices and input but you only throw a party you can afford. If you allow this now, she’ll be a nightmare at 16 telling you what car, phone, computer, etc that she expects to have.

My only child never told me what she expected and was deadest for at anytime. If she had, she would have received a big lesson on where her place was in the family... not the boss.

That said, have the party you can afford. I don’t think a lot of parents will drop off a 5 Yr old.

You can specify on the invitation the person who is invited. You can specify that siblings and parents pay their own way.

I personally think you should foot the bill since you are throwing the party.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

if my 5 year old were 'dead set' on a party at an expensive venue, i too would probably allow it. but it would be a 'bring your bestie only' party.

if you're really up to shepherding 5 5 year olds at a busy exhausting venue and can keep track of everyone without help, and if you really think the parents of the other kids will be okay with dropping their very young child off at a place like that and not staying to make sure their 5 year old doesn't get tired/bored/fretful/hungry/scared, then word it appropriately and clearly in the invitation.

it's not one bit rude to say something like 'the entry fee and food are covered for katie anne. parents and siblings are welcome to hang out as well and will need to be paid for separately.'

i'd rather bite my own toe than try to manage that many of not-mine kids at an amusement park without other parents!


6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Aside from the liabilities associated with trying to safely track numerous 5 yr olds in a huge amusement park, isn't this a great time to start managing your child's expectations regarding birthday parties (and maybe life in general, who knows)?

As a parent of a large family, I think the one real service I did for my kids was to really not let them go over the top with this kind of stuff. At the point that you have a 5 yr old who is "deadset" on something like this, you might already be digging a hole you won't be able to crawl out of in 5 or 10 years.

Setting realistic goals and managing expectations is really an important piece of child rearing and waiting until they are a teen is really too late to start.

You have a really teachable moment here. Don't waste it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

No way, you're asking for trouble. Are you really going to be able to control 4 kids running in different directions, wanting to go on different rides, some hungry now, some hungry later, some needing to use the restroom now, others refusing, but 10 minutes later, beg for the restroom? And what happens if you somehow lose a kid? Do you really want the liability of losing one kid in the park, even if for just 15 minutes, then for the kid to tell their parent he was lost for "one hour" (kids exaggerate), and he was so scared? I wouldn't trust ANYONE who is not in my family to care for my child in a large place like an amusement park when they have their hands already full so if my child were one of your guests, I'd politely decline, unless I also receive permission to come along.

Of course, I would never expect people to pay my way. I have always offered to pay my way even when it was something as minor and inexpensive as going to watch a movie. Better safe than sorry, and I'd rather come off as being too generous than being a cheapskate who wants others to pay her way and her child's. I realize the invitation is for my child, not for me and my child. Now if you want to go ahead and pay for a parent as well, that is at your discretion, but unless the invitation is addressed to "Sammy and mom", then I would assume only Sammy is being paid for, not me, as the mommy, as well. If you feel most people would assume they are being paid for, then add a disclaimer, or something like "drop-off requested." I assume parents will call about that, and say they are not comfortable doing so. At that time, you can offer them to come along, but at their own expense, as you don't have the budget to pay for 4 other parents.

My suggestion is this: you can have a Lego themed party at a park, get a Lego cake, Lego decor, hand out Legos, have games involving building things out of Legos, contests to see who can make the coolest thing out of Legos, or who can make something the fastest, etc., but save the amusement park visit for family. Assuming the kids were older, I might feel differently, like a pre-teen or teen group being dropped off would be fine, but at this age, kids get tired, cranky, stubborn, and most parents will feel uncomfortable dropping off their young child with someone who has their hands full and is in such a large place that a child could easily get lost. Maybe I am just overprotective, but the comments below seem to agree with that thought -- that 5 is too young for a "drop-off" situation.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Don't let your kids dictate to you what they will or won't accept.
It's a bad precedent to start and you are setting yourself up for a simply awful entitled teenager sooner or later and unfortunately it's not something they easily outgrow.
You do not want to raise up a life long whiner.
Kids need to hear the word "No" every so often and they need to know you mean it when you say it.

What I would do is to throw the party I could afford - and a lot of people are not going to be comfortable with dropping off 5 yr olds at any party - so expect a parent to stay with their child (and then the parent can then pay for any siblings if they bring any extra people).

Party suggestions for 5 yr olds:
Bring cake and ice cream to a local park picnic playground area
Chuck E Cheese
Movie theater
Build A Bear
Little Gym
Taekwondo places often do birthday parties - kids run around and have a blast

Make your birthday GIFT to your child the trip to Legoland with your immediate family maybe the weekend after her birthday party.
It just makes your life more simple and birthday girl will have a great time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I wouldn't do it with 5 yr olds. Too big of a place and too expensive for the other parents who will be saddled with buying their own tickets and tickets for siblings (if they bring them along). Theme parks are family outings not birthday parties.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If you are prepared to take all the children to Legoland by yourself, then just extend the invitation like that -- We would love to take Katie to Legoland for Megan's birthday. We can pick her up at 9:00 and drop her off around 5:00. Please let me know if she can attend. Megan will be so excited to celebrate with her.

If they ask about coming themselves, or with siblings, at that point you can say that you're happy to have them join you and that you'll treat them to lunch, but they would need to buy their own ticket. You do not need to pay for siblings at any drop-off party and certainly shouldn't be expected to at such an expensive venue.

I really don't think you need party favors if you're taking them to Legoland, especially if you plan to buy "extras" at the park.

I don't think you should expect parents to drop the kids off at Legoland, as getting into that parking lot can be a pain in the neck when it's crowded. Plus, Chula Vista is a pretty long drive and I think it would be asking too much.

I've seen a lot of offers at restaurants lately for a free kids ticket with purchase of an adult ticket, so keep your eyes open for those.

One thing to consider is making sure you have enough adults to ride with all the kids. They'll need an adult on almost every ride with them and some can only accommodate 1-2 kids per adult, so you probably want at least 3 adults if you're going to have 5 kids.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

At a theme park being that young, yes I would expect to pay for one parent. I would clarify on the invitation, no siblings, but one parent included.

You will need other parents to help coral the kids if you have five of them.

Or you can do as a lot have suggested and have one best friend with a mom or dad. I have done that with my kids over the years as the venues have gotten more expensive.

It sounds like a fun party. I have always let my kids throw out suggestions for venues and then told them the max guest list if they choose each one. So, I hope you guys have a blast.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

To answer your main question, no you don't have to pay for additional guests, siblings, parents or otherwise. Just make sure your invite is clear that only the invited kids admission is paid. When I had dd's bday party at a pool when she turned 6 I specified that admission covers the child and 1 adult guardian as I wanted parents to stay and this was NOT a drop off party. I did not want to be responsible for 10 little kids in water. I let them know that entrance fee was $x per additional swimmer or adult.
That all being said, I wouldn't have dropped my 5 yr old off at LEGOLAND. If I couldn't afford entrance myself and my entrance wasn't covered we would decline the party invite. I'm sure you are a trustworthy parent but no way am I dropping my 5 yr old off at a place like that with 2 adults to 5 small kids. Honestly the logistics of handling 5 4-5 year olds sounds terrifying in a busy park like that. I won't touch what others are saying of a 5 yr old being set on a LEGOLAND party since that's not the issue. They've all touched on the many and different needs of 5 year olds and I totally agree with them and logistically speaking might it be better if you did pay for one parent/guardian ticket for each child? If you could afford it, I would do that. If you can't I'd just say than your daughter gets to take 1 friend.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We did drop off parties starting at age 6 - that is the norm here.

I would expect at that age, parents to want to stay at a place like that - especially if they don't know you. I also would think there will be confusion as to whether they pay or if it's covered.

We did a party at a big venue (science place) where we had purchased a party package. We thought the parents were included - they were not. We needed the parents. Had we not, we never would have kept track of the kids. It ended up being very expensive. Learning experience.

I would only do it - if they were very good friends, you're friends with the parents, and it's worth it to you.

If the parents don't stay, you will have to enlist your friends or relatives to help. The last thing you want to be is stressed and chasing kids. Not a fun birthday.

Once they are older - kids can be dropped off at things like that (just a few friends) and it's fun.

*As for how you word this - if you don't want to pay for the parents, you say "Drop off 1 pm, Pick up 3 pm - supervision will be provided"

I don't think you can specify that no siblings are invited. I've never had that problem. If parents and kids show up - I think you just say "Ok party guests, over here" and gather them up.

An alternative are Lego parties. Here people host them and the are a blast (you could Google in your area). Or you could Pinterest your own ideas. Kids build Lego Friends creations (each get to take home as a little favor) and do games with them like races, etc.

One of my kids attended one, and had a blast.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

What I usually do is put on the invite something along the lines of... It will cost $X for parents and siblings who want to join in the fun, pay at the door! Or something like that. You have to be specific. And you have to not be afraid to tell people they are not free. I get asked all the time if siblings can come to parties. I try to be polite and respond with something like this party is just for the birthday child and friends...or the package we got only includes the 5 year olds, etc. If kids don't show and we have extra room in the party package I will definitely include siblings for free.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

This is a hard one because that age is not always an expected drop off age. Once they are a bit older, children and parents assume drop off. The 5 year old guests might cry when their mom or dad try to leave. When we have done things like this at an amusement park, it was with the mom and child with me and my child (not multiple families, just one other family).

I have gotten an invitation for a child's bday inviting my one child to swim at a location and say if siblings want to stay they can sign in at the front desk for $5 more. I am not sure if this was a special rate or if they just wrote that to make it clear the siblings were not paid for by the host. I would not feel comfortable doing this, so I have not host a party like this. I was also not offended by it. I think it help clarify for people who show up with uninvited siblings.

I would not bring a sibling unless he/she is clearly invited to the party (such as 'siblings welcome'). I would have conversations with the 4 sets of parents and see how each family feels. "Hi Kim, We are trying to work out the logistics of this party. Is Emma okay going without a parent?"

edit: I would not bring five 5 year olds to Legoland (or similar outing). It is hard enough with my own 2 kids, that 5 kids will be hard (think bathroom break and some will not get a turn when the first 2 get to go or some rides may not be fun to 2 girl but yes for 3 of them). Invite one friend and call it a day :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have a granddaughter who just turned 5. I've been with her siblings when they turned 5. Five year old children need to have direct supervision by an adult; one adult per child when in a new place with crowds and acreage.

Do you know these children? Have they taken directions from you and consistently obeyed? Will they stay together? Are the children familiar with Legoland? How do they act when they're excited? What will you do if one or all run ahead and get lost in the crowed?

I've taken teens to an amusement park. Many wouldn't follow directions. I've volunteered for field trips. The main reason field trips work is that the teachers have taught them ahead of time what to expect and how to behave. The field trips were in a closed environment. No crowds. No choices. Yet there was always a kid who wandered off. I usually held hands with a few kids. And these were grade school age kids.

My 5 yo granddaughter is fearless. When she's excited she doesn't wait for directions. She runs. I wouldn't take her to Legoland or Disneyland unless I could hold her hand when she needs to slow down. With 5 kids in an amusement park there has too be at least 2 adults. One to keep kids together while the other one deals with chasing down one that.has been caught in crowd and has to be found. There are many choices for rides and food. There will likely be one that is independent and not willing to go along with adult choices. Kids run in different directions wanting to see/do everything. If you don't know the child, you won't know if they will stay with the group and cooperate. Are you prepared for meltdowns?

Have you talked with parents? Is it OK with them that their children go with you? Can they afford to pay entrance fees?

I nearly always stayed with my daughter at birthday parties at a venue until she was in first grade. By then she had experienced cooperating with adults and following directions.

Perhaps you have planned for.supervision other than you. I still wouldn't send my 5 yo to Legoland with a parent I didn't know.

I suggest that you talk with each parent before making plans. Let them know you aren't able to pay for parents and siblings are not included.

One adult to 12 children works in daycare because the children are in an environment over which the adult has control.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

To say you NEED to have one adult per child is ridiculous, I work in child care and the ratio for that age group is 12 to 1, so certainly two adults could handle 5 kids. Just make sure parents know that if they plan to stay or bring siblings that only the invited child's ticket/experience is paid for.

1 mom found this helpful
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