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The Etiquette Bitch says: RSVP, parents!


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I hate throwing parties. I mean, I love having thrown a party but the actual planning part consumes me with stress.  

What if no one comes? What if they say they will come and don’t? What if everyone hates each other? What if it rains so no one comes? What if it’s sunny so no one comes? What if the party is crashed by a group of drunken hooligans? What if the drunken hooligan is Nate? And he’s on on a long rant against religion? And he’s right? And I’m forced to defend him?

Really, it’s a problem possibly requiring medication.

A couple years ago, deeply in the horrific money-scrounging phase of our lives, we scrounged all our money to throw Sage a birthday party–more for the adults. Nate’s birthday sangria is legendarily worth a trip to Brooklyn. The morning of the event, half the people bailed on us. Yes, every excuse was perfect and relevant and acceptable and la la la la la. One kid wasn’t feeling well. One mom forgot. One mom was tired. I ran out of gracious ways to say “Don’t worry about it”

I get it. I’m a mom too. Sometimes you are, simply, tired.

That said, I am forever traumatized by the experience. Do you know what a pasta salad for 40 looks like after a party of 15 people?

A pasta salad for 40.

Yesterday, we threw our first real birthday party for Sage. In fact, it was our first real birthday party for either kid; the kind with entertainment and organization and cake and balloons. And as we parents know, all good things end with balloons.

I had a fabulous time, and left with nothing but happy feelings. But this morning, I felt a little squidgy as I realized several of the parents who RSVP’d yes were no-shows. No-calls and no-emails either.

I am not without sin in this department and so the Etiquette Bitch in me hesitates to throw this ugly, jagged stone. I have said yes to PR events that totally slipped my mind or were pushed out of the way for some other unfortunately pressing obligation. In times of major stress and overcommitment, I have ignored a flurry of invites in my inbox, some of which I probably should have made time to respond to. And yes, I once sent Nate to a friend’s wedding alone at the last minute, because I was 2 weeks postpartum, fat, depressed, leaking from my size 86 DDDDD boobs, and would have been probably kicked out for showing up in sweatpants anyway.

So let me say for the record: I suck at times.

But a kid’s birthday party seems different.

It’s not just letting down a host (who may have already paid for your kid, ahem), but about letting down a little girl who doesn’t understand why her friends didn’t come.

Fortunately, Sage is resilient and awesome. It’s her mother that could use a few more of those attributes.

My mom and I talk about this often. We’ve debated as to whether this is a New York thing, or a Generation X/Y thing, or a technology thing. Are people less considerate than they used to be? Are we just too busy? Have we lost our sense of empathy and courtesy? Or do invitations and requests flood us with such great frequency in this digital age that they’ve really lost all meaning?

I’m not sure what it is. But I know it makes me want to do better. I want to be the kind of person who says yes and means yes. Or the person who sometimes says yes but, or who simply says no–because that’s okay too.

Is it too late to make a New Year’s Resolution in mid-May?

98 shards of brilliance… read them below or add one

Julie Marsh May 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Our two drunken hooligans ought to get together and rant against religion. Preferably at a child's birthday party.

I have to admit that I've found more than one birthday party invitation crumpled at the bottom of backpacks, two weeks after the party took place. Likewise, I have found undelivered thank you notes written by my girls for birthday presents received, also crumpled at the bottom of backpacks.

Obviously, I need to check the depths of the backpacks more often. But it's also served as a reminder that invitations in the hands of kids often go MIA.


The Dalai Mama May 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm

This bugs me too. Prior to Noah's birthday party, he would ask me almost daily who had said they were coming and how hadn't. Then when they don't show up–you really miss them (and have paid for them).

I also get upset when people don't RSVP either way. I am not perfect and I say no more often than I have to–but it does seem like people have become more rude–as if an electronic RSVP isn't real.


Mamalooper May 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

This bailing on a kid's birthday parties after RSVP'ing yes drives me crazy too! I mean, you need time to plan the most straight forward party. You spend money on party favours, food, decorations, no matter how simple. And your child, if she/he is five like my daughter, spends months planning their own party.

I understand it from a parent's point of view – kids parties can get boring. But it's only a couple of hours. And it means SO much to the birthday kid.

We have a few parents in my daughter's class who treat parties as a “yes” only if nothing better comes up at the last second. Gah…


Annie @ PhD in Parenting May 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I hosted a birthday party last month for my little girl's 4th birthday. This was her first year in “school”, so it was the first time we were inviting people who aren't close personal friends of ours to the party.

After an incident last year where only 2 kids (out of the 5 invited) could make it to my son's birthday party, I decided to be more open with the invites for my daughter's party and let her invite as many as she wanted.

She invited about 10 kids from school. Of those:
- 4 said yes (one didn't show)
- 1 said no
- 5 didn't bother answering at all

I really had no idea what to say to my daughter about the ones who didn't reply. For the no-show, I said “she was probably sick” or something.

To make matters worse, a few weeks later she was at a birthday party for a classmate and at least three of the no-RSVP kids were at that party.

I don't get it.


TyKes Mom May 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Yes yes yes! I remember when I was a child having people say they would come to my birthday and not showing up. I didn't understand. I was devastated. That fear lingers with the thought of throwing my children parties. Genuine and honest RSVPing is proper etiquette. Great post!


Selfish Mom May 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I'm finally on my way to being the person who doesn't have to bail at the last minute for whatever reason, and the key is very simple: I now say no to 3/4 of the stuff I used to say yes to. Because a sick kid or a bad day or work will not keep me from some place I really want to be, but they're fantastic – and true-ish – excuses when I really don't want to leave my house or my sweatpants.

Of course, that's not going to make you feel better, because it may mean that the people who didn't show really didn't want to be there in the first place. But better to have a small guest list ahead of time than on the day of the party.


Miss Britt May 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

A friend of mine threw a going away party for us this weekend. She went through SO much work. I was so embarrassed to learn one family we had thought of us friends didn't even bother to respond to the party planner's emails.


Brandi May 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

My daughter just had a birthday party and there were ZERO children in attendance! People who RSVP'd didn't come. Good thing she's only 2, but I can't imagine what would happen if she were older and realized that her friends didn't come to her party. RSVP and come, folks!


jodifur May 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Is it evite? Does evite make it easier than paper invites? Because I'm not sure either but I had the exact same experience this year for Michael's party and it was miserable. Waste of money and time and effort.


Lindsey May 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

The egregious behavior that happens to me more is people just not RSVPing. What is that about? Waiting for a better offer? Forgot about it? It's one of my enormous peeves. Don't even get me started on how nobody writes thank you notes anymore, either. xox


Kim @ Let Me Start By Saying May 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm

This makes me positively MENTAL. I had a NYC wedding, and invited 306 people. One the RSVP date I only had maybe 1/2 of the responses. It was a shock to my system.

I find that now happens when I plan my kids' bday parties. I mean, COME ON. I am inviting everyone in my kid's class to come to a place you all know I need a headcount for. Why not just say yes or no? Why leave me hanging? Why refuse to allow anyone outside the teacher and class mom have your personal info for me to hunt you down and get a damn RSVP outta you?

And as for technology? If you say you are coming to my party and now can't, you have the option to email, mail, text, Tweet, Facebook, courier, messenger pigeon, snail mail, leave a note in my kid's school backpack, or tell a mutual friend to tell me. Just bailing with no notice is bulls***.


I think etiquette is going downhill, fast. It drives me crazy.

Almost as crazy as deciding on goodie bags.


Melissa May 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

My approach now as party host is to send out the invitations, and then, a week before the party, call everyone who didn't respond. This accomplishes two functions: I can make sure they received the invitation (seems like there's always someone who didn't receive one for whatever reason–Evite didn't get delivered, the kid lost it, wrong address…), and then I can get a response. Or at least an “I'll get back to you!” Yes, it's more work, but I also don't host parties for an entire class. One other trick is to invite a couple more kids than I really want to host (say, I really just want 6 kids, so I invite 8), and we usually end up with enough kids for a fun party.


Abby May 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I have been guilty of this too, but I also think it's rude. One thing I really appreciate is when parents include an e-mail address to RSVP, not just a phone number. Because when I get a minute to respond, it's likely to be 10pm. Also, if it's an Evite, the reminders help. I like to think it's that people are busy & overextended and not just jerks.


Dawn May 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

It's happening everywhere, not just NYC. I'm not sure which is worse, the people who don't RSVP at all or the people who say they're coming and then don't turn up (without a call or email). Drives me batty.


Magpie May 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I hear you. And shall we discourse about thank you notes next? Oy.


Denise Laborde May 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Wow. I am shocked! And I'm thinking it might be cultural?
I'm American and live in Toulouse, France. I've been hosting my kid's parties for six years here. In that time, the people who've rsvp'd have always shown up. Once a kid was sick so, get this, one of his parents stopped by to say hello and drop off a gift. So kind. This year my son invited a lot of (new school) classmates. The ones who did not RSVP'd didn't show and I was ok with that. In my book, no RSVP = no. What would surprise and shock me would be for someone to say yes and then simply not show without a follow up call. It would make me feel like they could care less about me and my party. Maybe in that situation I would be inclined to be exclusive with my guest list and only invite people I or my kids know very well.


Magpie May 16, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Oh, and I'd like to be at the party with Nate and Julie's husband ranting about religion. Sounds like a good time. :)


FreeRange Pamela May 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Aargh. We are just beginning to plan a 6yo b-day party and fearing this will happen to us. We just attended one of his classmates' gatherings, and only one other friend from school showed up — and we know everyone in the class was invited, as the invitation came home in the school folder. Not sure whether people RSVPed or not, but you'd think more people would show up. I mean, what kid doesn't enjoy a friend's birthday party? We had a disastrous “going away” party for our family in Brooklyn where we did the whole goody bag thing, etc. and only one other family showed up. We had lots of booze left over to drown our sorrows, though.


Teresa May 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

We went to one of our daughter's friend's party about a month ago. There were 12 kids there. It was a blast. She had her daycare friends (where my daughter was from) and some neighborhood kids and cousins. Our daughter's party was 3 weeks ago. NO ONE SHOWED UP. One girl RSVPed no, and planned a playdate later. (Bless them) one RSVPed yes and did not come, and one RSVPed yes and couldn't come because his mom was sick. No one else even responded, including a family I would have considered close friends. I don't know all the parents, but the fact that all of them went to one girl's and not to my daugher's is really sad. She is three, so didn't quite realize there were no kids there. Her uncles were there which made her day but it was still sad. I didn't even mention her friends coming as the day was coming up because I didn't want to crush her.

The parties are for the KIDS guys. Please don't disappoint them!

As for the food, I made a lot, but there were plenty of adults (all of which RSVPed) who ate their weight. At least we had that.


Cloud May 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Wow, you guys are making me appreciate my day care crowd.

People generally RSVP (yes or no) and they generally do what they said they would in the RSVP.

I have had to bail out last minute when my daughter woke up with a 102 degree fever, but in general, if I say I'll be somewhere, I'm there. I have had to train my husband in the fact that kids birthday parties start on time, but otherwise the birthday party scene is pretty low stress.


mannahattamamma.com May 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I say, sing that message out LOUD. I mean for gods sake we all now have about fourteen gazillion methods of communication so at very least, tell me you're not coming, especially (particularly) if you've already said you ARE coming. And then could you write a follow-up post, please, on why people think “thank you” notes are optional? At very least a thank-you email from the parent? But I mean thank yous all the way around, for gifts, for being invited to a dinner party, etc etc. I had a mom–who I like a lot–say to me “oh we just don't do thank you notes, so consider this a blanket thank you.”
Um…howzzat? So I say get that etiquette bitch a new riding crop and have at it.


Sarah May 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Lots 'o comments, you pick the best topics Liz. I am a committed RSVP'er. It is simply rude to not respond when clearly you should. Busy-ness or not, is our society so far past the elementary rule of respect to use an excuse that you can't take 5 minutes to respond to an invite? Most even give options where you can email a response back, I mean GAH! heaven forbid a personal phone call be made. I mean really, what's happening to the personal touch anyway? And absolutely, absolutely people, do it for the kids!


Amelia Sprout May 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Technology should be a better reason to make sure that you RSVP. Hell, I'm a phone phobic person, but give me an email address and I'm all over that shit.

I don't get it either, and really, suck it up and go for your kids. I hate people and I manage to show up because I know my daughter loves it.


Sophie World May 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Oh. My. God. I want to give you a hug right now, because at long last someone feels my pain.

Not RSVPing to an event — any event — sucks. But when it's in honor of a small child, who just wants their friends to show, and doesn't understand “Sally's mommy was too busy,” it's heartbreaking. It's also a logistical pain in the ass! I've been a children's party planner for 16 years now, and it can cost time, money, and stress when the guests don't respond (or do respond then don't show anyway).

I have a lengthy rant about it here: http://sophworldblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/rsvp-puh-lease.html

Amen, sister. A-MEN!


Angela May 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm

It is an epidemic I'd say. Last year we had only 2 kids show up to Nicky's birthday party. This year we invited 10 from his class and several others (kids of my own colleagues). I think we had like 2 rsvps. I tracked down my colleagues to find out if they were coming myself. In the end not only did many not rsvp, some didn't rsvp and showed up! Luckily I was prepared, but that is only because it was all homemade stuff, not an event type thing. I can't imagine doing something where I had to prepay based on attendance.


Mom101 May 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Oh man, your stories are heartbreaking. 1 kid showing up? No kids?

I'm always going to have these comments in my head the next time I feel too busy to hit the RSVP button right away.


Jennie May 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I feel like no one wants to call out this behavior because everyone does it — we all forget, don't RSVP, lose the invite, drop the ball, get crazy, etc. But that doesn't make any of us right. We should all try to be better even if we know we'll never be perfect.

You can say, “you should have called/kept your word” even if you sometimes have to say, “I should have called/kept my word.”


Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac May 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I have learned not to trust evite because it goes into too many people's spam folders. With that said, I've also been known to send out follow-up emails the week before a party saying “Yo! I need to get a headcount.”

It's ridiculous that people need to be reminded to be courteous. I mean seriously. I've got kids…I don't have time to baby the adults in our life too!


red pen mama May 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I threw a party for my husband when he earned his psychology license. it was a big deal for us (and not cheap). and it snowed that day — not a white out, 3 feet of snow blizzard, just some snow — and a number of people completely didn't show and didn't bother to call. It pissed me off.

I almost always make a point to RSVP when it is requested, even if the answer is no, and especially when it's a kid party. I like “regrets only” rsvp's because they let you off the hook if you're not able to attend. You can just toss the invite.

Of course, all that said, I recently was going through one of my daughter's folders and came across a classmate's invitaion to a birthday party. On May 1. So I felt like a giant heel. we couldn't have gone anyway because we had a conflict, but I felt bad about it.

To answer your questions: yes, sometimes we are too tired and too busy. Sometimes we have to pick and choose and say no — and, yes, we have to let other people off the hook. Because sometimes — at least speaking for myself, I need to be forgiven for faux pas.


Marketing Mommy May 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Thank G-d for my community in Oak Park, IL. People might take longer than I deem necessary to RSVP, but at least they show up at the kid birthday party they've RSVPed to.

Adult parties… notsomuch.

I had the Etiquette Bitch for a mom. I wish everyone else did too.


Micro Dr. O May 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I haven't had any experience with kids' parties yet (although almost everyone in the family that RSVP'd to Monkey's baptism showed up – a miracle in itself based on past experiences). But I noticed a definite lack in RSVP etiquette when getting married.

A friend of mine getting married about the same time said that she had never thought about it before she got engaged. She often ignored RSVP inserts, and just showed up if she had time. In planning her own wedding, she suddenly felt awful about it.

I don't completely understand the drop myself. Maybe we're busier than we used to be. Or maybe technology has made certain courtesies, like a handwritten thank you note or simple RSVP, seem obsolete, so we're not taught to worry about it. Maybe the guilt of wanting to “do it all” has made us not want to say no – I've definitely delayed responding to events I knew I couldn't attend.


Jen May 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I've got to agree with red pen mama — it's hard to be judgmental when all of us (at least it sounds like) have neglected to rsvp at one point or another, or been a no show.

I certainly try not to, but I won't say that occasionally I'll find something that I opened or left in my email weeks later. The few pathetic groveling emails/phone calls mostly cured me of doing it again.

But: “I like “regrets only” rsvp's because they let you off the hook if you're not able to attend. You can just toss the invite.”

Regrets only means only call if you are NOT coming — so sort of the opposite of what's said above!

Thank you notes though? Gaaa. If my child is at your child's party and your child thanked my child in person? Really, they don't need to do it again! If you send a gift or weren't at the party or something like that? Then, sure send a note thanking me.

If I have you over to dinner? Feel free to email a thank you, but also, feel free to just say it! If I invite you to a fancy catered thing at some exciting place (fat chance, but it could happen), and you weren't able to specifically thank me there, feel free again to email.

I think that some of the repetitious obligations have made us tired of all obligations!

And now I have to respond to a graduation party invitation!


Mom101 May 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I think that some of the repetitious obligations have made us tired of all obligations!

@Jenn I think this is very astute. But maybe we need to reset a little? Aren't things like courtesy and graciousness what make us civilized? Or if less fancy than that…aren't these kind of the fun things in life?

I'm not sure either. And trust me, I'd be the first to breathe a sigh of relief when thank you notes are no longer obligatory. But I don't want to be the first to call it quits on them either. At least not intentionally. Heh.


Cheryl Lage May 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Popping over as a follow-up to your Tweet…

RSVPs = Obligatory. Even if “sil vous plait” means “please,” the response is mandatory.

Thank you-s = Obligatory, and preferably, in writing—even if it's a 3-year-old scrawl or drawing.

Yes, people are getting ruder. Feels like we're one step away from the Planet of the Apes ending… ;) The monkeys are taking over (Damn, dirty apes!)

Far from perfect, I've lapsed on occasion and STILL feel guilty. Now especially as a “role model” for the ever-watching eyes.

If you'd like to send me a mailing address, I'll send you a written token of appreciation for such a needed post. ;)


Amy Jo May 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I always try to RSVP, but like you have missed a deadline or two. I find that most people are forgiving, so I try to be as well.

However, last year a mother brought her daughter to my son's birthday party, even though she hadn't RSVP'ed. I knew she only came because she had nothing better to do, because she was one of those moms who thought she was better than everyone else. Once she arrived she freaked out because both her and her daughter have latex allergies. And the place was filled with latex balloons. If she had bothered to RSVP, she could have mentioned this and maybe I would have stuck with the mylar balloons.

But most people aren't that obnoxious!


Issas Crazy World May 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I think it's all of the above. Some of us just aren't considerate. Some of us are too busy and too tired. And sometimes? Things just come up. Or like Julie said, sometimes you find a crumpled invite three weeks later.

That being said, I have two daughters who are very popular. Having them invited to every single birthday party from August 20th – June 1, makes me a little grouchy. I get tired of parties every weekend. I get tired of buying gifts. Tired of sugar crazed, strung out from not sleeping at a slumber party, kids on Sunday night. Tired of the non-stop drama that happens at nine year old girl birthday parties. So…sometimes I don't say anything. I don't RSVP no, because then that kid comes to school asking my kid why they aren't coming and my kid then can't handle it and begs to go.

Basically I'm admitting to being an asshat at times about these things.

Personally, I do always send thank you's for gifts and I make my children do the same. I also always RSVP when I'm invited somewhere.


Jen May 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Page 520 of Miss Manners Guide for the Turn of the Millenium

In a passage discussing children's birthday parties and related gifts and the thanking thereof, there is this line:

“Written thanks are not required for such presents delivered in person. If a present is sent, the child must write;…”

See? I knew I'd seen it once somewhere and felt it should be a touchstone! Of course, she does mention ahead of that, that the child must thank verbally upon receiving the gift.

Now, if only people knew this and could utilize it. Think of the hours of forced writing and complaints that could be avoided!


RuthWells May 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Oh, this is SO a pet peeve of mine, DO NOT GET ME STARTED!!! (Ahem.)


Mom101 May 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Good to know Jen!

But if in your social circle, thank you notes are de riguer, then it doesn't matter what Miss Manners says. It's still rude to them, right?


Jen May 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I also hate when people just don't RSVP either way – I went to the trouble of inviting you to a party, and the least you could do is let me know whether or not you can make it. But I will say that it's worse to say that you'll come and then not show up without warning (or valid after-the-fact excuse, like their child was in the ER or something). Because as you pointed out, the host planned for those numbers and may have actually paid for you and/or your kid, so the least you deserve is the common courtesy of a phone call or text letting you know of the last minute change in plans. But I've often said that common courtesy is just not that common. (Neither is common sense.)


Jen May 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I know, that's the problem! I feel like I should have my child copy that into a thank you. ;-D

We did tell the grandparents this, though — mailed or presents that were given but they didn't get to view it or get the thanks — those get a thank you. You were there, saw the thrill, received a personal thank you? We consider you thanked.

But that's easier with relatives, eh?

It's so bizarre though that people take hours to write thank-yous for things that have already been thanked for and yet can't take two minutes to RSVP. It's like we've gotten it backwards.


Kam May 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

No, you are awesome and so right. I have the same problem. And I, too, have been guilty of saying I will be somewhere or do something and then canceling at the last minute. But at least I cancel. I do think that people have become less accountable in the internet age.


Jaci May 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm

“I get tired of parties every weekend. I get tired of buying gifts. Tired of sugar crazed, strung out from not sleeping at a slumber party, kids on Sunday night. Tired of the non-stop drama that happens at nine year old girl birthday parties.”

Attitudes like this are why I give my girls the choice to have a big gift (and small party) with a best friend–or a big birthday party (and small gift). The best friend's mom won't blow your kid off because it feels like a good sweat pant day.

And I hope I never become so jaded that I'm rolling my eyes over my Popular Girl's 3rd slumber party invite of the month. Good grief. The mom hosting the damn thing is the one suffering–and try paying a babysitter $20 in a cheap card for your next date night. Sounds like a bargain to me.


Mom101 May 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Just a reminder: Let's keep the discussion civil please.

This is a safe space for people to share different opinions thoughtfully, whatever they may be.


SuzRocks May 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Depending on the day, I can be really bad at remembering to RSVP in time. But that's to events of lesser importance, such as weddings. I would hate the thought of hurting a kids feelings.

Speaking of weddings…someone RSVP'd to mine TWO days before the thing. At least they didn't just show up.


The Yummy Mummy May 16, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Thank God you wrote this right now because there is an invitation to a pre-k birthday party in my inbox and I'll be damned, but I forgot all about it and didn't RSVP. Doing it now.

Thanks for helping me not be an asshole.



Brittany {Mommy Words} May 17, 2011 at 12:32 am

We have the same issues here. My biggest pet peeve is the yes and then no show and the same day rsvp yes. Um…I don't have enough goody bags? Were you waiting for a better invite?

My kids are happy just to have friends over but I cringe for a second before enjoying the party. With a million ways to contact me, please just let me know.


Karen L May 17, 2011 at 12:32 am

This is just one of many, many, reasons that I'm pretty much not going to be throwing birthday parties for my kids (my oldest is four). When I was a kid, we invited one or two friends to spend the day on the nearest Saturday and we'd go on a small outing (bowling or ballgame or something). I'm thinking this was before the word “playdate” was invented. I actually like it that way. I think this started because my older brother was terribly unpopular and invitations for larger numbers could have been an exercise in humiliation.

I'm also terrified of the birthday party drama with older kids. I know that “on paper” it is always the invitee's prerogative to accept or decline, but what are the obligations around accepting and reciprocating? What if we accept one sleep-over, but it's a disaster? Are we obliged to accept all the future sleep-overs? How DO you explain regrets – to the hosts (parents) and birthday kid? What if the REAL reason is “my kid is too immature for sleep-overs” or “we can't afford to buy birthday presents and my kid is too humilitated to show up with a handmade craft,” which other parents may understand but kids don't want to discuss. How do you stay above the popularity politics but still teach your kid how to navigate them ethically and maturely? This is the stuff of nightmares for me.


Marinka May 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

No means no. Oh. Wrong post.

There's no excuse not to RSVP now–every single one of the invitations that my kids receive is via email. How hard is it to hit “reply”. (The issue about people who “reply all” with “Yes! We'll be there!” requires its own post. Hurry, please!)


Jane May 17, 2011 at 3:11 am

I'm late to this party, (ha ha) but have been in both spots. My 40th birthday that I planned and planned for 50, ended up being 17 – mostly due to a nasty flu bug – but I know what you mean about all that pasta salad! But I'm an adult. I would have no idea how to explain to my 6 year old what had happened to her party.


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