What Is Your Opinion of Providing Food for Adults at Your Child's Birthday?

Updated on March 11, 2014
H.A. asks from Colbert, WA
40 answers

Hello ladies,

I was wondering about your opinions on provided food for adults at your child's birthday party?

We are having a birthday party at a local pizzeria with games and rides and those hamster tube-crawling-things-for-kids and we will be providing pizza, a veggie tray and drinks for a total of 5 kids. My husband and I have no problem ordering a couple additional pizzas, maybe a variety appetizer and drinks for the total of 8 adults (my husband and I, my parents and 4 additional parents of the other kids coming). It's about $65 for all 8 adults. We are not providing alcohol, the parents will pay for that themselves if they want it.

We are curious how other parents feel about this.
Would you provide the food for the adults attending?
Would you expect the adults to pay for their food?

How do you plan birthday's for your children?

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So What Happened?

Thank everyone for so many responses. I'm happy to see that my husband and I feel the same way as most of you. Since the kids are all preschool and kindergarten age we prefer that the parents stay with their children and that seems to make them "invited" too since we are providing food for the invited children we should provide food for the invited parents.

Since it's really only four more adults it doesn't feel unreasonable or too expensive. If there were 15 more parents I think we would make other plans.

Some responses asked why the children aren't being dropped off, we feel that they are too young and since we wouldn't drop off our four year old, we don't want them to drop off their three, five or six year old. Some agree, some don't, that's ok, its our preference.

A couple responses for some of your responses:

What's SOP? I haven't heard of this.

Jill K:
I like your suggestion for wording on the invitation and who is 'invited'.

I agree with you, I wouldn't burden other parents with my energetic toddler either.

Thanks again to everyone for their time and opinions

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

yes we absolutely provide food for anyone who will be in attendance, adults included. I'd skip the alcohol, although when I host a kid party in the backyard at my own house, I usually provide that too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Whatever you plan to do, I would say it in the invite. Something like, pizza and drinks will be served to the kids, cake will be served to everyone. That way everyone knows what to expect so there should be no problem. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just say pizza, cake and soft drinks will be provided for all.

Yes, we always provide food for any adults who come to any party we have.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Houston on

That small of a group, that amount of money, I would do it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When I have a birthday party, I don't invite people I don't plan on feeding.

It sounds like you are going to Chuck E. Cheese or someplace similar. When we had parties there, we paid for all food consumed by our guests...yes...even the alcohol.

How do I plan my kids parties?
1. I ask them where they want their party.
2. I ask them WHO they want at their party.
3. I find out dates that are available.
4. I send out invitations to those he wants at his party.

As I stated already - YES - I would pay for the food and drinks of parents of children staying around.

Would I expect them to pay for their own food? Umm. NO. **I** invited them to a party. That to me is like inviting them over to my house and say - hey - I really want you to come over, but you need to bring your own food to eat, as I am ONLY providing for the kids...

If you can't afford the party - don't have one.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I have always provided food for parents, siblings and anyone else that joins in. I grew up like that too.
A party is for everyone to celebrate. I get a chance at "grown up" time, visiting with the parents while the kids play. Siblings don't feel left out and parents aren't in a lurch trying to figure out what to do with them.
I quite like having everyone's parents there so I don't have to deal with and fight a room full of kids. How stressful is that! Feeding the parents means that if Johnny is being a nit his parents can deal with him, not me. I see that as a win!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think the confusion has arisen over time due to the nature of birthday parties. There was a time when a child's birthday party was a family event (only) until they reached the age that other kids could be invited and dropped off for a party. So... 6, 7, 8, etc...

Nowadays, folks have big "friend" parties for their kids who are too young to be dropped off, so the parents are also present. Therein lies the rub.

If you are hosting a party that the children are too young to be dropped off and left, and the parents are either expected or are likely to stay for the party, then yes, you need to feed them also. If the kids are old enough to be dropped off and picked up later, then make it clear that that is the expectation, and then you have no parents to feed.

It's totally up to you what age you decide to host a "friend" birthday party for your kid. It isn't required at any age, really. So if you choose to do so, feed the guests. Under a certain age, and the guests does include the parents.
Choose wisely... only you know your budget.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I always provide enough food for people I would expect to stay. I don't really care if they aren't "guests" of the party... They are still there because of the party. In my opinion, if you expect the parents to stay the least you could do is feed them. ;)

Of course, I don't expect the same from other parents... That is just my personal preference when I am hosting a party. I don't get out out if they don't feed me when I am an unofficial guest; though I appreciate it when they do. :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Whatever my venue, home or other, I always provided food for everyone.

To me, it was just the right thing to do. Others may feel differently and that's ok. I never had expectations of being fed if I accompanied my daughter to a party but rest assured, all attendees at our party were served.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm assuming that the kids are young enough that you are sure that the adults are staying? It's not a drop-off party? I'm also assuming that the party is around a meal time? If so, then yes, plan on ordering food for the adults but just ask them what they want when they get there. You might end up ordering less than you think. If the party is in between meals (e.g. 2-4 PM) then I wouldn't assume you need to order a ton of real food but some snacks for the adults - the veggie platter, maybe a hot appetizer to share - and soft drinks would be expected.

Basically, if the circumstances are such that I would expect to feed myself, my husband, or my parents, I would expect to feed the other adults too. If the kids are older and it's a drop-off party then that changes.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I do not invite the adults to the party. I only invite my kids friends. The invitation is addressed only to the child and the parents know that they are not invited. If I did invite the adults to the party, then I would be obligated to provide food for the adults. Where I live kids are dropped off at parties. I am very glad I do not have the added expense of providing food for the guests parents as that would easily double the cost of my kids parties.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't ever schedule parties during meal times, so food is not an expectation. I do provide snacks for everyone, including parents.

THat being said, I NEVER expect to get fed at a child's party. I always appreciate it, but I never go in thinking I will also be fed. Parties are expensive enough without additional burden. I don't know of anyone who goes in to a child's party, thinking they will be fed too. I think your plan is very generous!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When Kiddo's friends were younger, yes, we always provided food for those who stayed. It's common courtesy. What would that be like otherwise? "Gee, I really want your kid to come, and I guess you should stay, but you should be prepared to buy your own food?"

I think having them sport their own alcohol is fine. But not providing food to party guests would be pretty tacky.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It's a very nice gesture that is appreciated. It's just pizza and soda so you should definitely provide food. I always do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't know where the tradition of having adults invite themselves to parties originated, but I wish it would go back there! Parents are supposed to drop their kids off at parties, go occupy themselves for 2 hours, and come back to get their kids.

But you say that 4 additional parents are already coming? So somehow they were invited? Or have you just picked up from the conversation that they are planning to stick around? If you invited them, you have to feed them. If you didn't, then you have to word your invitations that say what time pick-up is and give a location: "Pick up is in the lobby" or "Pick up is at 3 PM in the party room at the rear of the pizzeria."

You can't invite them to stay and then expect them to pay for their food and drinks. You've only got 5 kids there (which is awesome, by the way! I hate those "parties of 25"!!) yet you have 8 adults. This is no longer a child's birthday party, it's a social event for everyone. So if they are all staying, you have 2 choices: 1) either order the food and hope you get something that others will enjoy, as you would in your own home. That means a few pitchers of water or soda, and a few pizzas or a mixed appetizer as you have suggested. 2) You give everyone a menu and they order their own things, and you get stuck with the bill and you are a gracious and generous host.

What every etiquette expert will tell you is that you cannot invite people to stay, and then tell them they have to pay, or tell them they get free food but pay for their own alcohol. Only when an event is specifically listed as a "pot luck" are people expected to contribute to the food array, or when prices are listed ahead of time ($10 adults, $5 kids) do people pay their own way. If you don't invite them and they stay anyway, you don't reward that by feeding them. You can tell them at the door that you're so glad little Johnny is here, and they can pick him up at 3 PM; if they say that want to stay and watch, you say, "Suit yourself" and go back to attending to the party guests. For young kids, you can let them know on the invitation that you will have lots of supervision (e.g. you, your husband and your parents).

But it sounds like this time around, you're kind of stuck with the people because you already know they are planning to stay, so I don't know how to ask them not to! All you can do is figure out a better plan for the next time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I've been to a few parties at Chuck E Cheese (sounds a bit like what you are describing), and the parents I've seen always expect to stay and watch their own child and do not expect any food or drink.

Now, the hosts have always provided pizza and drinks for the kids and adults, and I honestly feel like the adults probably would be a bit insulted if it was not provided. But the adults I've seen have always waited until the host has told the adults to please help themselves, as there's plenty of pizza.

I think it probably is expected, especially if your child is at the age where parents expect to stay for the party to watch their child.

My oldest turned 7 last summer, and the only parent who stayed at the party asked me if it was ok. I tried to make it clear to all the moms that they were welcome to stay but should not feel obligated. Most of them said goodbye to their child and practically ran away. (Woo hoo! Two hours to myself!)

ETA - I noticed many people commenting about this "new trend" of parents attending the parties with their children. I wonder, is it also a new trend to invite preschool friends to birthday parties? My son will start kindergarten in the fall, and he has been invited to 3 birthday parties this year. I accompanied him to all of them, and it was expected. I would not drop my 4 year old off at a party - not because I fear for his safety. I fear for the safety and sanity of those around him!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Personally, if it was in my budget, I'd do it. I would feel happier knowing everyone showed up for a carefree day with food around to munch on. It's not easy to go out, get a gift, and bring your kids to a party on a day when you and the family could have done a million other things. I really appreciate the parents who come and hang out at the party and bring their kids. I had a bday party here at home in Feb and made some adult snacks and bought drinks for adults separate from the kid's treats. And to be honest, I've never paid for any snacks when I attend other birthdays in homes or at venues. So. I think it's pretty typical for the hosts to cover everything if they can.

You're not obligated, especially if it's not affordable to you, but I would. I think it's really nice.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

If I have the bday party at meal time.. I provide food for all. adults and kids..

I have planned parties for 1-3 or 2-4 and just had cake..

but no I would not feed kids and not paretns..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We did most parties at Chuck E Cheese.
We fed the invited guests but had a large enough cake to share pieces with parents if they were nearby and wanted it.
Parents that hung around didn't stay at the reserved birthday table - they got a table of their own away from the stage where they and siblings ate what ever they ordered on their own and played (all over the place) until the party was concluded.
It worked out fine every which way around.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

When our daughter was young, 5 and younger yes the parents did stay.

Once she started school, usually the only adults that might be there were relatives, so yes, again I had food for them. As she got older, the parties were smaller and no adults usually attended, because we would go with family to dinner for her birthday and her "Parties" were mostly just children.

But IF a parent or parents wanted to stay, Of course I would provide them food... and I would probably enlist their help! Ha!

So go for it. I met a lot of our family friends through our child. We became friends by shared experiences and our children being the same ages. The same activities etc.. Now that our children have graduated, we are still good friends with many of these friends and her teachers and their families.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I did a bday at chickfila one time. I ordered the kids individual meals and was planning on ordering a platter when I figured out how many parents would be staying. They all ended up ordering their own food so it didnt end up an issue. I think you should at least be prepared to offer but they may have their own plan or simply decline.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Providing food for adults is SOP.
And I'm not just talking about family!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why do parents stay at parties is my question. Birthday parties where I am have always been drop offs. I guess I would not expect to be fed at a kids party. No right or wrong here.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

If you need adults to stay to supervise their kids, then you need to provide food and drinks for them too, no question.

In general, any guest invited to your party needs to be provided with whatever refreshments you are serving. You don't have to provide everything under the sun, but you have to offer what you have to everyone; you can't invite people and then only offer some of them refreshments.

I have my younger son's birthday party at our house on the 22nd. It is from 11am-1pm, so we will serve lunch and cake to all guests, adults and kids alike. We have done parties at other places, and at other times of day (not over a meal time) and then we provide cake and drinks to all attendees. I can't imagine hosting a party and not providing for my guests.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Since my son is still small enough that parents stay for parties, we feed ALL the guests, both kids and adults. We've also always been offered food at his little friend's parties. I think it's different if the children are older and an adult just chooses to stay, but if they adults are expected to stay with their kiddos then the polite thing to do is to feed everyone. We are doing a pizza party for DS in a few weeks as well, and will have enough for everybody.

My cousin had a party at Incredible Pizza (think Chuck E Cheese) and only provided cake. So all the other guests had to buy their own pizza. There were ALOT of grumbling and complaints from family (it was just a family party). I'm sure it wouldn't have been so bad if they had at least fed the kids, but I think the response would've been about the same if they had left out the adults. Happy birthday to your little one!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We had a party the other day. I made sure I had some drinks for the adults that ended up staying, and enough snacks and cupcakes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We feed the kids, the adults and have adult beverages too, even if the party is at 1 in the afternoon on a saturday. That's just how we roll.

F. B.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

If the adults are required to stay you pay for their food. If they choose to stay they are on their own.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

When there are adults *invited* to the party they are guests just as the children are and we plan the food accordingly. Since you know in advance who all will be there I'm guessing they were all invited, so your plan to get food, appetizers and drinks for adults is perfect.

If a parent shows up and stays unexpectedly, that can be dealt with as the situation warrants. Sometimes it is no big deal to share what is already there, sometimes they will have to pay for their own.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I didn't do venue parties, and I didn't provide meals at home parties unless they were sleepovers, in which case I provided pizza, junk food, and soda for the kids to munch on at will.
I don't expect to be fed at a kid's party, and I didn't worry about feeding adults. If adults wanted some cake and ice cream AFTER all the kids had been served, they were welcome to have some.
And I don't understand why alcohol is necessary at a kid's party. Parents can't drink what the kids are drinking? I know kid parties can get on your nerves, but if you can't get through one without a martini, you might want to take yourself to an AA meeting while your kid is at the birthday party.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I seem to be the odd mom out here, but in my family birthday parties are family events. I never understood inviting all the kids from a class to a party. My daughter has her one or two besties from school, and everyone else are family and friends, young and old. She's an early September kid, so it's great excuse to have a end of season BBQ. I feed everyone, but none of us in the family ever have alcohol at any of the kid birthday's. All of my family members do our kids parties this way.

So I guess my answers to you would be: If you invited them, yes provide the food, no don't make them pay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes, I provide food for adults. Thats why I always had house parties. Its cheaper to feed adults at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Are you making the parents stay? If so, you at least offer. I rarely take party parents up on the offer...but you have to at least have it to offer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it's reasonable to provide grown-up food, but you don't have to go all out and do anything fancy. If you're ordering pizza for the kids, order a veggie pie for the grownups. For my son's most recent birthday, we did a Greek mythology theme. I got a few finger-food type snacks for the grownups at a local Greek restaurant, and we had a "temple of Dionysus" with two bottles of cheap, unimpressive wine. For other parties, we just did a veggie pizza and called it a day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If the adults attend, you need to provide and pay for their food. Anyone who attends needs to be fed. It doesn't need to be fancy or any different than what you offer the kids, so pizza and a veggie tray is perfectly fine. It's your choice whether to offer sodas or other beverages besides water. I agree that you do not - and should not - pay for their alcohol.

This year, my son is turning 7 and it will be the first time I'm specifically telling parents to drop their kids off. In the past, everyone has always stayed and I always make sure they have enough food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

funny how often modern parents automatically include adults in kids' parties. we never did it. parents were always welcome to stay, and it was always assumed that if they did, they'd pay for themselves and any siblings who were along for the ride.
if you know in advance that you're going to have that many adults staying, it is, of course, courteous to buy their pizza too.
it just wasn't how kids' parties were structured back in my dinosaur days.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would not buy 2 additional pizzas but just one . Skip the appetizers too.Just take care of your parents . The adults that stay shouldn't be expecting to be fed and usually don't eat.They should help keep an eye on and take care of the kids not be a distraction for you to entertain .Have fun !



answers from Albuquerque on

I would always provide food for adults attending any party I threw. To me, that's just the polite thing to do. It also helps cut down on confusion at a pizza place... some adults will wait around to see if you're serving them, others would walk up to the counter (leaving their child unsupervised), others would go hungry. It's just so much easier to budget to feed everyone who's attending.

Have fun at the party! And happy birthday to your child...



answers from Oklahoma City on

I take care of the kids, if an adult stays during the party they are more than welcome to go order themselves something. No way am I buying strangers dinner when I want to mainly focus on kiddo's party.



answers from Boca Raton on

If the party was near a meal time we generally provided food for the adults too (nothing fancy). If it was not a meal time we provided sodas and snacks.

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