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Kid Birthday Party Headaches

The simple days of cake and pin the tail on the donkey are gone.

I’ve often thought that if I wanted a different or side career, I should go into hosting kid birthday parties. That’s because kid birthday parties have become a big business these days.

Gone are the days when you invited a few neighborhood kids over to your house, served a homemade cake and let the kids play a few games like musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.

Now, when most parents hold a birthday party for their toddler or elementary-school-aged kid, they fork over hundreds of dollars to a Bounce U or another party place for about two hours or so of pizza, cake and fun for the kids.

I should know – I threw a birthday party for my twin daughters over the weekend. I got off relatively easy, since I just throw one party each year for the two of them, and because I chose a place – the Fun House in Hightstown  – that is relatively inexpensive compared to some other party venues.

I decided to have my daughters’ bash at a party place for a few reasons: I didn’t have to clean my house for the shindig and there’s much more space at the Fun House than inside my home. Plus, the party pretty much ran itself  – I didn’t have to worry about planning and running activities for the kids, buying the pizza or cleaning up afterward.

Party Planning Gone Awry

But even though I meant to make my daughters’ party relatively fuss-free, I did run into problems. The main headache, of course, was the cost: While the venue I chose is less expensive than other places I could have chosen, the party was, of course, more costly than one I could have hosted at home.

But that wasn’t what I was truly upset about. The biggest thing that irked me was that some parents never bothered to RSVP. I would think that it is common courtesy to let a parent know whether or not one’s child will be attending a birthday party, but this year, just as in years past, I never got an RSVP from several children – in this year’s case, we were missing seven RSVPs.

That meant that I had to get a count at the party of how many children were there to settle my bill with the party place (since the charge was per child instead of a flat rate). I also had to pay for extra goody bags, have extra pizza at the party and bake additional cupcakes, just in case more than the number of kids I expected showed up.

It also meant that we couldn’t open up the party to friends outside their classes that my children wanted to invite, since there were so many maybes.

The reason I couldn’t firm up RSVPs for a few of the kids is that I don’t know some of the kids’ parents and have no contact information for them. (For those kids, my daughters had just passed out paper invitations at school; kids of parents we know received emailed invitations.) My daughters got verbal replies from some of the kids, but some turned out to be incorrect.

Birthday Party Solution?

Before we sent out our invites, I was thinking of limiting the guests to only kids of parents I know, to children of people I knew would RSVP. But I didn’t, since that tactic would have left out some of my daughters’ favorite friends from school. But now that I’ve been burned yet another year in terms of RSVPs, I am thinking of using that tactic next year. It would certainly make hosting their next birthday bash easier, less costly and a lot less stressful.

Brad C June 08, 2011 at 07:43 AM
The parents that don't RSVP are everywhere. To get over the problem, if you have an an etertainer make sure they don't charge per head and are casual with numbers. In Melbourne Australia, we do kids reptile parties see http://www.reptileparties.com.au to get an idea of what we do. We don't charge on a per head basis, so if too many or too few turn up on the day,it makes little difference to the mums and dads and their budgets.
CW April 23, 2012 at 04:16 AM
On the flip side, some parents should really use a typewriter - the phone number/email address they left on the cards are just totally unreadable.

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