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Another Party Etiquette Question

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#1 boysx4

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:09 AM

DS2 is turning 4 next week and really wants to go to the play-centre with his friends on his birthday. He wants to do this because DS1 did it earlier in the year for his 5th birthday.
With 4 boys we can't afford parties for all of them every year, so we were going to make them set ages for parties (turning 5, turning 8 etc).

So I want to invite DS2's friends to come along without it being a party invitation (no presents etc) as I  will want them to pay for themselves, rather than a party where I would pay for everything.
What's the best way to word this? Do I still bring a cake?

I don't want it to seem like a present grab, and I don't want to come across as a tight-ass.
I think I spend waaay too much time reading eb threads complaining about this stuff so I want to get it right!

#2 1miss2littlemen

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:15 AM

I would just invite a coupele of his friends for a play date for his bithday, Just tell the other mums that its not a party just a catch up? That way there is no pressure of that kind of thing?

#3 eachschoolholidays

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:17 AM

QUOTE (boysx4 @ 22/10/2012, 08:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So I want to invite DS2's friends to come along without it being a party invitation (no presents etc) as I  will want them to pay for themselves, rather than a party where I would pay for everything. Do I still bring a cake?

To be honest, I would find this rather strange.  It sounds like a play date rather than a party.

#4 bunnee

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:28 AM

DO you have to mention that it's his Birthday to the invitees? Could you not just say it's a playdate? If his Birthday is mentioned - even if you ask them not too - people will bring gifts.

#5 whale-woman

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:38 AM

Can you tell him the play centre is for special birthdays and he can have a party there next year when he's 5? I'd do the party somewhere free like home or the park and just tell the invitees that it's no bought presents. (I'm going to do this for DD as she has too much stuff and doesn't need more presents). If the other kids want to make some thing for a present - eg some craft or a card etc then fine.

I find the idea of an invite to a play centre for a birthday where you pay for your own kid a bit odd. Otherwise it's a play date and then people won't feel the motivation to attend like they would for a birthday.

Edited by whale-woman, 22 October 2012 - 07:39 AM.

#6 Eirinn

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:39 AM

If you want to just have a playdate, call it a playdate and don't bring a cake. You will look like a tightarse if it turns into a party after everyone has paid their own entrance fees.

#7 JustBeige

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:42 AM

I would do the same as PP and tell him that play centres are for birthdays and take them to a park.

Otherwise, just make it a playdate and take a little cake with you.

#8 Moffetta

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:43 AM

Is he set on the play centre?

I would just do something at home or a park like pp said.

At that age they think anything with balloons is a party, I did this for dd 4th birthday this year. We had it at home with 2 friends, some balloons, sandwiches, lollies, biscuits and cake nothing too flash but she still felt special and had a great play with her friends.

I think you could do that cheaper then the entry to the play centre for your 4.

#9 ekbaby

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:45 AM

I would just invite a coupele of his friends for a play date for his bithday, Just tell the other mums that its not a party just a catch up? That way there is no pressure of that kind of thing?

I think you could say something like the above.

TBH though I would probably still be prepared to pay for the other children's entry. From an "invitee" perspective, if you are invited to a playcentre for a playdate for no special reason, it's easy to say no if you couldn't afford it, or suggest another place, if you are invited for a child's birthday I'd feel like I couldn't really say no therefore I think it could create resentment having to pay.

Are you very close with the parents of the other kids? If the parents are very close friends I think it could totally work as you can talk openly about these things, if they are the friends from preschool or something like that where you don't really know the parents, it might be more awkward. Are these people that you would normally catch up at a playcentre with anyway?

I'm not sure how much playcentre entry is (I'm guessing around $15?) so if money was tight I would rather invite just 2-3 friends, bring my own cake and make it a very casual playcentre party... $45 is not that much to spend.

Other options would be just having the same kind of thing in a park- then you could invite as many of his friends as you want- just call it something like "having a play in the park, and we might bring a cake along".

I have a group of friends who meet regularly in the park for playdates anyway, and when it's been a child's birthday if we want to have a casual birthday we just say "Hey it's X's bday that week, we'll bring a cake"

I think if you only want to have parties certain years then you have to explain that to your child, rather than trying to give him the same sort of party that his brother had, but making other people pay for it IYKWIM

#10 MrsShine

Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:55 AM

If the other mums are women you're close to, could you just tell them the truth?
Say via text or phone call (not email as its too close to a genuine invitation) we're not having a party for DS2's birthday this year, but on x/x/x day we'll be going for a little play at said play centre.
If you're free to come along for a play & a catch up we'd love to see you.
Maybe do it on a weekday (assuming you don't work) as this is less full on, and DS2 is less likely to see other kids parties in full swing.
If you can stretch to it, have baby cinos, or a little snack together afterwards.
But I'd say save the cake for family time at home with his brothers.
Even just invite cousins and a few close family friends?
But I'd make sure this is well explained to DS2 and the other boys as you don't want them feeling like one gets more attention than another iykwim.

#11 boysx4

Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:39 AM

Thanks everyone. I didn't really think there was a way to do it without it being strange/cheap.

We all normally go to the play centre every month for a play date, so I might try to organise one for this week so he gets to go, but it isn't for his birthday.

Then we will just do our ususal special family dinner & stuff next week on his birthday.

#12 Lyn86

Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:50 AM

Why not just give him a party this year and not one next year? He obviously really wants what his older brother had and will probably feel a bit miffed when he isn't made a fuss over. Next year he won't really feel like he's missing out as his brother won't be having one either.

#13 mumto3princesses

Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:55 PM

I think I would make it a party or not. So, a playdate and then a small party with family and even a couple of friends or a playcentre party.

A friend of my girls did a playcentre party once without it being the big package. They did their own invitations and took a cake and arranged to have a couple of tables at the playcentre and ordered some food platters. So, no minimum numbers, no host or party room which made it cheaper. All they had to pay for was the entry for the kids and the food they ordered.

There is also no reason why you couldn't just invite a few friends to your family party to make it feel more special. One of my girls friends did that this year and they were the only non family members at their friends party but they didn't care and they all had fun.

We are doing similar for their birthday and just inviting a few of their friends. We wont even going all out and doing games etc, they will just have music, some decorations and food and can just play. Same as what we had planned if it was just family.

#14 mintpatty

Posted 24 October 2012 - 01:07 PM

My son is going to a play centre for a friend's birthday this weekend.  It's just the birthday boy, his dad and 3 friends.  I didn't find it weird at all.  

The birthday boy's dad just sent a text saying "For X's birthday I'm hoping to take A, B & C to the playland on Sunday, is (my kid) available?  I'm not doing a party, the boys can have a play together and I'll buy them lunch".  

I'm fully aware people can't do parties every year, I certainly don't.

#15 Julie3Girls

Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:14 PM

If you are going to limit parties to certain birthdays, you need to explain this to the kids and follow through with it. And define what you are actually going to consider a "party".

I don't think you can do the same thing for your DS2 as you did for DS1 if this is a non-party year.  Because even if you get the other parents to pay, it is still going to look the same to the kids. Might not matter now, but later on, it could be something the kids notice.

It really depends on how you are going to go forward.
I tend to do "parties" every year, but they are very low key. DD1's party this year was 2 friends for a sleepover.  So rather than limiting parties to certain years, I simply explain to the girls that they had a big party last year, so this year is small.

Having a couple of kids over in the afternoon and providing cake for afternoon tea and just letting them play - still a party but costs hardly anything. Or arrange a meet up at the park, without any mention of the birthday, and bring cupcakes.

Or start a tradition of just one or two friends on the "non party" years - I can understand not wanting to pay for a whole party at a playcentre, but it doesn't cost a lot to bring along one or two of your DS's friends.

#16 bandbub

Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:22 PM

dont know where your located but the playcentres around us dont let you bring in any outside food and only if you have one of their parties can you bring a cake  something to think about

#17 melaine

Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:25 PM

First of all - I'd have no problem if my friend SMS me and said "I'm taking X to the playcentre for his b'day on Friday, he'd love it if Y could come along and have a play" - I'd assume I was paying just like every time I went to the playcentre.

However, I wouldn't do it. I'd prefer to say "We're not having a party - but we'd love to catch up at the playground for a play and some cake". We went to a couple of similar 'parties' last year for kids who were having family only parties. It was loads of fun and very casual and cheap - a cake and some nibbles and you are done!

#18 cward

Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:20 AM

If you are going to limit parties to certain birthdays, you need to explain this to the kids and follow through with it. And define what you are actually going to consider a "party".

I don't think you can do the same thing for your DS2 as you did for DS1 if this is a non-party year. Because even if you get the other parents to pay, it is still going to look the same to the kids. Might not matter now, but later on, it could be something the kids notice.

It really depends on how you are going to go forward.
I tend to do "parties" every year, but they are very low key. DD1's party this year was 2 friends for a sleepover. So rather than limiting parties to certain years, I simply explain to the girls that they had a big party last year, so this year is small.

I agree with this.  If it is a no party year then it is no party.  This will come back to bite you if you give DS2 a party on a year its not his party.  If the off party year only involves a family party then you need to explain this to your DS2 and explain that next year he will have a friend party and DS1 won't.  I think even a playdate could be thought of as a party to your children.

We don't do big parties every year and in fact up until 4 my kids only ever had small family parties.

Both my DD's had big parties FYOS (my DD2 just had hers last week) and next year my DD1 will be having a big one as she is turning 10.  In between she has always just had 1 or 2 friends over and we usually either go to the movies, play in he pool, have cake.

#19 Ice Queen

Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:11 AM

I agree that if you are only having parties for certain years you need to follow through.  

How about 'Sorry, sonny-jim, we are not going to a play centre until you are 5. Yes, I know you are mad but I want to win a million dollars and that isnt happening either so the eariler you learn life isnt about getting everything you want, the easier things will be for all of us'!

#20 niggles

Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:19 AM

I think Mrs Shine has the answer if you really want to do the play centre thing. And skip the cake, singing, games and assorted party stuff. And make it a time that's not an expected eating time.

#21 mummame

Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:51 AM

I also would find it a bit strange to come along to a 'playdate' and then have cake and its a party. I would also feel obligated to get a gift for the child and then a bit miffed that we are paying for ourselves. I would just invite a few friends and pay for them.

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