Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Parent's Guide To Throwing Your Kid A Birthday Party

My son, king for the day

"Each of us bears our own hell", the ancient Roman poet, Virgil, once declared. After what the Missus and I have just been through, I have little doubt that the "hell" Virgil was referring to was throwing your kid a birthday party. 

Now, don't get the wrong idea. Our son had a great time. It was the kid party of the year. He got more gifts than Ann Coulter has opinions. It was a blowout. But, a few things did happen that damaged my faith in humanity. If you plan to give a party in honor of your kid's birthday, here are a few things you can expect (so you won't be shocked):

1. Don't expect good manners. From the kids. Or from their parents.
This is an overarching principle that will stand you in good stead when throwing your son or daughter a birthday bash. Don't forget it.

2. You can write "R.S.V.P." on every invitation, but don't count on anyone actually getting back to you
In case you didn't already know this, R.S.V.P is the initials for the French phrase "répondez s'il vous plaît" which means "please respond". Not only do people not call, text, or e-mail to let you know whether or not they are coming, they also won't let you know if they'll be attending in time to order enough food. We literally got a call at 9:30 the night before the 10:00 a.m. party from a mom with a sobbing kid in the background asking if it was too late to come.

3. Inviting one kid means you are also inviting his or her siblings, parents, cousins, and the kids mom babysits.
It's insanely rude, but nowadays people seem to think that an invitation addressed to one kid means the whole clan's invited.

4. Not everyone who attends will bring your kid a gift.
I know it's rude of me, but it was still surprising.

5. People will cancel on you right before the event for no good reason.
We had a mother call, just before the party, to say her child didn't want to come. He just felt like staying home. The mom wasn't couth enough to fib and say "little sister isn't feeling well" or maybe just "we can't make it after all".

6. Conventional wisdom says to invite more than can actually fit in your home or party venue because not everyone will come. Conventional wisdom is stupid.
We invited one and all following this way of thinking. Not only did it turn out to be untrue, but we didn't know about rude parents thinking that siblings, cousins, and kids you babysit being invited (see # 2). 

So, Virgil was correct. But, if you keep this guide in mind, you just might survive throwing your own kid a birthday party.


  1. I literally had hardly any RSVPs for Emma's party lat July and then the day of the RSVP, I had practically all the parents calling to tell me their kids were coming. So, I seriously wonder when people thought that RSVPing last minute was the right thing to do. Trust me I could go on with the things I saw at the actual party, but will spare you and say your list is pretty accurate and just sad in this day in age.

    1. Hi Janine!
      It is sad, isn't it? Well, we all survived at least! :)

  2. One kid in my son's class invited the whole class to the park for his birthday. RSVPs were on the invitation, but it also said it was JUST a cake and ice cream party, so if the people didn't RSVP, I'm sure it was ok. No mess, the kids (outside of the orchestrated gzmes) played in the park, and there was no mess to clean up. I thought it was brilliant! Sorry you learned about the above the hard way. Mom of 4... been there. ;)

    1. The whole thing is really something, isn't it, Rosey? Live and learn!

  3. Love this! I am throwing a party for my daughters 5th today and this put everything into perspective. Thanks!


    1. At least you've been warned, Kristen! :)

  4. Weird, I would never expect those things either! Good primer for me though as we haven't had any "kid parties" yet. I am holding out for family only parties as long as I can :)

    1. Yes, it's a whole new world out there and things haven't changed for the better.