Birthday Moochers of a Different Sort

by admin on January 4, 2011

This happened when I was a kid, about 13 years old, but I still remember how baffled I was…

I had a friend in class, I didn’t hang around with her much, but I’d been at her home once and found the family nice. The girl and I had birthdays close to date, and a week or two before she asked me if I wanted to celebrate together. I said “sure” and soon she invited me to her house where her relatives had gathered. We celebrated her in a quite traditional birthday manner, had dinner, cake and snacks and she opened presents from her quite large family – aunts, cousins and so on, most of whom I had never met before. It was quite nice, even if I felt a bit out of place as the only one not related and not really being that close of a friend to her either.

A few days after, my mother gets a written request sent home, asking for half of the costs for the party, a quite large sum. Not for my food alone, but for all of them, but cut in half since it was “a party for both of the girls”. My own family was never invited, yet expected to pay for food and drinks for people they had never met!

My mother called them to say how outrageous this was, and of course didn’t pay anything. The friendship with the girl was awkward after that and I never went to her house again – because who knew what they would charge for it?…We still laugh about the weirdness of it, 15 years later. 1209-10

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

lkb January 4, 2011 at 5:47 am

Yes, that WAS weird. However, what exactly was meant by “celebrating together”? (If they were indeed celebrating together, why weren’t the OP’s family invited?) Perhaps the other girl expected an invitation to the OP’s own celebration that never came?

I think there’s more to the story than is being told here, possibly a miscommunication between the two celebrants as to exactly what they meant to do. Chalk it up to young teen awkwardness.

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Enna January 4, 2011 at 6:54 am

It does sound strange however I do disagree with 1 lkb about inviting the “firend” to her party. Celebrating together normally means you have one party and both birthday people attend. What does seem strange is that none of the OP’s family and firends were there. It was naive of the firend’s mother as well as rude to send her the bill for half the party costs. If it was a real joint birthday party then both sets of parents would’ve spoken to each other to plan it.

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karma January 4, 2011 at 7:20 am

Oh wow, what was that family thinking? Even if the girls miscommunicated, how could the parents of the other girl not have prearranged these activities with the parents of the OP if they believed they were co-planning a celebration? They obviously believed they were, based on the invoice, but how could two intelligent adults let an event come and go and never have spoken to the OP’s adults about it?

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Typo Tat January 4, 2011 at 7:28 am

This really is outrageous. Had friend’s parents wanted a joined party, they should have involved OP’s parents in the planning. In any case, they should have “talked money” before throwing the party, not after the fact.

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Harley Granny January 4, 2011 at 8:13 am

Nice try on the girl’s mother’s part and great catch on your mother’s part.

I agree with Typo…all the arrangements should have been made BEFORE the party.

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Xtina January 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

That is an insane request. The OP was merely an invited guest to the girl’s party, there was no “joint party” celebrated together, as the OP was not celebrated, gifted, or had anyone she knew invited. I think the girl’s parents were rudely and boldly thinking they could extort funds from a potentially unknowing parent for something that did not occur–very dishonest.

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bookworm January 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

It sounds as though you agreed to a joint thing, and then allowed her to do all the work. No wonder your family wasn’t invited and you were billed.

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Sarah January 4, 2011 at 10:15 am

I think the other girl’s parents really were just scheming to get half their costs covered, by claiming it was a party for both girls. It’s outrageous, but it seems more likely than the massive failures of communication that would have been necessary otherwise.

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DGS January 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

I wonder if there was some sort of miscommunication, and perhaps, the OP’s family and friends were supposed to be invited. If that was not the case, then this is quite outrageous and a very bold attempt to get money to pay for a party that had nothing to do with the OP.

In my experience, it is best to not co-host birthday parties for unrelated children and teens unless there is an established relationship between the children’s parents, not just the children, as it’s hard to expect good communication between kids (it’s hard enough to get good communication out of adults, much less folks whose frontal lobes aren’t yet fully developed), and the parents need to speak to one another and settle the details beforehand. If the parents know one another and communicate well, then all arrangements are made before the party (Mom A picks up the cake, Mom B picks up the balloons, Dad A chauffers the kids to party location, Dad B decorates the party location, etc.) and costs can be split evenly. In this case, did OP’s parents and the other girl’s parents speak before the parties? Did they even know one another?

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Louise January 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

That’s just bizarre.

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gramma dishes January 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

Kudos to your Mom for not allowing the other family to intimidate her. Did the other family really think they could get by with that?
I have a feeling the other girl may have had a very tough time keeping friends with parents like that! So sad and not her fault. I doubt she knew her Mother’s scheme.

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Ashley January 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

Given that two 13 year olds were the ones in communication about this whole shindig, its no surprise that rather large detail got left out. I really don’t know what else to say about this situation besides the fact that it is just plain weird all around, even if you take into consideration the large amount of misscomunication that could have happened.

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Elizabeth January 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Xtina is right, OP was just a guest to her “friend’s” party. I honestly don’t know if this was all a misunderstanding due to lack of communication or if the friend has some very shady parents. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when OP’s mom made that phone call.

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Beth January 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I don’t think the real issue is the possible miscommunication, but that fact that AFTER the party (where the OP did not get any gifts, nor did any of her friends/relatives attend), a bill was sent to the OP’s mother.

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Yvaine January 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Bookworm, no need to be mean to the OP. I don’t think the other kid did the planning either. The adults did, and it was the adults who planned the guest list (except for the inclusion of the OP) and came up with the ridiculous billing scheme.

Here’s my guess:
OtherGirl invited the OP, genuinely to be nice, because she realized their birthdays were around the same time.
OtherGirl’s adults, either because they were just plain cretins or because they were annoyed at OtherGirl for inviting people without asking first, took an opportunity to try to fleece the OP’s parents.
Go OP’s Mom!

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Jayne January 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

It looks like friend’s parents were just planning a scam. It is doubtful that there was any honest intent on the part of the friend’s parents to have a “joint party” – especially since the two girls were not even what I would consider to be close friends, the parents had absolutely no contact with each other and none of OP’s family or friends were invited. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even look like any other school friends were invited – it was just a family party.

Also, I think that if there was a real intent to celebrate both birthdays, they would have been more sensitive about the amount of gifts being opened. You don’t celebrate two birthdays and then only shower gifts on one of the celebrants, right in front of the other. A sensitive person would probably wait until the party was over and the other b’day girl went home to shower their daughter with gifts, or would do so in advance of the party.

And the fact that the “invoice” came in the form of a note – not even a phone call to discuss – says it all.

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Pam January 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm

If I had wanted to have a joint party for my teenage daughter and her friend I would NEVER leave the planning and details (such as $$) up to them. “Celebrate together” could have easily meant “come to my party” Crazy! And how could you be so audacious to send a bill to a parent you didn’t even know or talk enough to in order to call and discuss details before the party – let alone send the bill to the school with your daughter. Maybe it was the friend doing the scheming to have a bigger party? Maybe the bill was a forgery from the friend? (very weird!)

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Gloria Shiner January 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm

” . . . she opened presents from her quite large family”. I don’t see anywhere that the OP’s birthday was celebrated. I suppose that could have been left out of the story, but I have to agree with others that having two 13-year-olds make a casual agreement doesn’t constitue any sort of planning.

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Calliope January 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I don’t see how this could possibly have been an innocent miscommunication. What parent in her right mind would think that the party the OP described qualified as a “joint” birthday party? How could that woman be so shameless and clueless as to bill someone else for what amounted to a gathering for her own family? Maybe the friend’s mother expected the OP’s mother to come up with a guest list of her own, but failed to communicate that. Still, after the party came and went with not a single friend or relative of the OP in attendance, the friend’s mother should have realized there’d been a misunderstanding, and kept the bill to herself. Since the friend’s mother was the one who hosted the party, it was her responsibility to communicate the details in the first place. Misunderstanding or not, it was incredibly tacky and rude of her to attempt to bill the OP’s mother.

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Margaret January 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I could see this being a miscommunication – i.e. friend and friends family actually willing to have OP and OPs family at the party and just not being sensible enough to speak to OP’s parents about it to make sure they were all on the same page. But even if that were the case, once the party occurred and NO ONE was there for OP and OP didn’t get presents, the friends parents should have clued in that this wans’t really a joint party after all. Also, if this were a joint party, wouldn’t the friends parents have asked the OP where her family was once festivities got underway (assuming good and honest intentions)?

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boz January 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Bookworm –
I don’t think that this was ever a ‘joint party’ where the other family did all the work. If my DD decided to have a joint party with a friend and I was okay with that, I would contact the other parents and discuss details such as how many the other family would be inviting, what food, times, etc. Especially if it were at my house and if I was doing the work. If they did not contact me, I would contact them. From the OP’s account, I don’t think contact was ever made. That being the case, why would the girls family assume that it was a joint party for both girls?

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Emily January 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm

A girl in my class and I shared a birthday and we were friends so it made since to have a party together. But the party didn’t work out very well. We did what she wanted to do and only she got a birthday cake. And the worst part was she made a huge fuss that I was getting more presents then her, it didn’t make since because everyone gave each of us a gift. We never split a party again.

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Elizabeth January 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

A friend of mine and I shared a birthday party once. It went great. Granted, we had a few differences than this story. I was turning 18 and she was turning 19. We had most all the same friends. We shopped for the snacks and our cake together. Oh, and we’d been co-hosting parties (non birthday parties) since senior year of high school and continued to do so for years after. We were also pretty close at the time.

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Shock and Awe January 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

My question is, when they sang Happy Birthday did they include the OP in the song or was it just sang to the friend? If the OP wasn’t even included in the song then that right there says it wasn’t a joint party.

Growing up we had an issue among neighbors sort of like this. One of the neighbors took another little girl with them and their daughter out one day. The parent’s of the guest weren’t told it was a shopping trip, just that they were going to the park and having a picnic. When they all got back the parents of the guest were handed receipts for stuff the hosts had bought their daughter and for the cost of her lunch. Let’s just say neither little girl played together after that and my mother refused to let me go anywhere with the host’s family, she didn’t want to get a surprise bill if they left out pertinent information.

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Maitri January 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Maybe the other girl didn’t have any close friends because her mother is insane, and so she invited the OP just to have a friend there?

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RP January 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm

It sounds as though you agreed to a joint thing, and then allowed her to do all the work.

@bookworm – I can’t figure out how you reached that conclusion based on what was in the post. Where do you read where the OP was contacted for help about planning but refused to help? It doesn’t sound like there was *any* communication between the invite and the actually party.

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Cooler Becky January 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Joint parties are best left to when the kids are related. It’s ridiculous to expect a pair of 13 year olds to be able to figure out the logistics of a joint party, let alone work out the accounting.

I think that the friend’s parents were merely being opportunists. You shouldn’t have let it ruin your friendship with her, though. She might have been a very nice girl after all.

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Alice January 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

It isn’t possible for “miscommunication” when no communication took place. As several commenters have said, had the mother of the friend had her daughter say, “I want to have a cobirthday party with so-in-so,” the natural reaction is to either say no, or to say yes and then call the other parent to plan. Even if she HAD done so (which I would assume the OP would have mentioned), clearly the OP’s mother politely declined but said she’d be happy to allow her daughter to take part in her friend’s celebration, which would still not give any indication that she planned to help contribute financially.

But even with no communication taking place, even IF the friend’s mother believed that the OP and her entire entourage were coming – they didn’t. That would be the big, “Oops” of the day, and should the friend’s mother had believed it was going to be a true joint party, I think that phone call would have been a, “What happened? We were expecting you” sort of a phone call rather than fishing for money. I mean, come on. If she really thought it were going to be a joint party, why wouldn’t she have called the OP’s house immediately when she showed up without her family, friends, or gifts? Wouldn’t it be strange to think your daughter was having a joint birthday party with a girl who showed up to said party without those things? That she apparently thought nothing of it indicates she had absolutely no intention of a real joint birthday party.

I think it’s important to consider both sides, but I don’t see any indication in this story that the OP’s mother had any blame, especially considering her mention that they are still baffled by/laugh about it to this day. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and people are just WEIRD. As in, their lack of etiquette/rudeness is so beyond the norm that they should be put in a totally separate category.

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Tori January 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm

My little sister,K, is very good friends with T. T is always inviting K along for trips to the water park last summer. One day they were going for the whole day as it was several days before 4th of July so the water park was doing a small firework show. One of their other friends,S, was going too. Anyways they get there and are putting their stuff in a locker. They run out of room and they have a larger one so they not wanting to pay for another one tell Kimmi to ay for her own. K had 20$ for lunch and dinner they had good meals so that was enough for food and a drink pass(unlimited drinks all day for 5$). After having to pay for another locker for herself(which they put some of their extra stuff in btw) and her drink pass(bought that before locker fiasco) she had 8$ left. So lunck for K was 5$(cheapest meal). So dinner comes around she has 3$ left. Can’t afford actuall food so she has a side of fries for dinner. That was all she could afford. They wouldn’t even lend her 2$ so she could actually eat. And the side of fries isnt really that large and she had been swimming all day. On top of that when T and S ran out of fries from their meals they mooched off K. So K gets home around 9 and is starving because after swimming all day she had 1/3 of a side of fries for dinner if that. My mom chewed T’s mom out.

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Me January 5, 2011 at 1:39 am

Regardless of how the situation went down, if you’re expecting someone to go halves with you, you arrange this beforehand. Going ahead and paying for everything and then sending them a bill is so. rude.

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Emmy January 5, 2011 at 6:40 am

Probably my 13 year old self would intrept, “let’s celebrate together” as me attending her party and celebrating with her – not as my own party with her family. I also wonder if she was included in the singing of “Happy Birthday”.

The parents seems like real opportunists to host a party for their family and DD and foist half the bill on the OP’s parents after the fact. If the parents had really intended to have a party for both girls, they would have been in contact with the OP’s family about the planning and made sure her family was invited as well. They planned the party they wanted and hoped to extort money from the OP.

@bookworm – even if the OP and her parents did not help with planning the party, it still doesn’t give the family the right to plan the party, not invite anybody in the OP’s family, and still bill them half. I really get the impression the OP or her family didn’t know anything about the joint party and the girl’s parents did not make any effort to communicate. If indeed the OP and her parents did not help with planning the party, plans should have been changed to a party for the other girl only. There is absolutely no justification or excuse for this family to plan their own private party and bill the OP’s parents for it. Good for the OP’s mom for having a backbone and not paying the bill.

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Mechtilde January 5, 2011 at 10:08 am

You don’t agree costs in advance, you don’t get/pay costs. Simple.

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--Lia January 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Imagine if the OP’s friend’s mother’s idea had caught on. Instead of inviting one friend to “celebrate together,” the family could invite several. Then each friend could be charged for half without any of the others knowing. Profit!

In fact … (I have an evil imagination), if the OP’s mother had coughed up something, that might have been in the works for the next year.

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The Cat Whisperer January 6, 2011 at 12:16 am

My mouth literally dropped open with shock when I read this. The girl’s mother who asked for reimbursement for half the cost of the celebration is either absolutely clueless, or else malignantly narcissistic.

For sure, she wasn’t playing with a full deck.

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jenna January 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

Wow….just wow.

I don’t think this is a massive communication failure – I think this was a scheming mom. I imagine there was a conversation that went something like this:

Friend: “Did you know that OP’s birthday is near mine?”
Mom: “Oh…reeeeeallllyy. Well why don’t you invite her to the party we’re having for you? You can both celebrate!”
Friend: “Uh….OK. I thought it would be mostly relatives though.”
Mom: “Uh….mmm….that’s OK. Go ahead and invite her!”
Friend: “OK!”
Mom: ::silently scheming, mwahahahaha, to save a buck by dumping half the costs on OP’s family::

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Ali January 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

My best friend and I have very close birthdays. When we were young we had a joint birthday party the best way possible: we started at my house, had dinner and snacks and my small cake, then went to her house, had her small cake and did a sleepover. It was fun. I don’t know who spent more and no one cared. Even if it had been at my house and had been equal my parents wouldn’t have dreamed of sending a bill.

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lkb January 7, 2011 at 5:58 am

@Jenna
I still think something is missing from this story. I really can’t envision a scenario like that described in your post taking place in real life. I still think it was a miscommunication (granted, by young teens and parents who somehow did not talk to each other beforehand (probably because of the teens’ miscommunication).

I really do think that most etiquette mistakes are more a matter of cluelessness/thoughtlessness/misunderstanding rather than “I’ll get you my pretty — and your little dog too!” Not that meanness doesn’t happen but I just can’t envision someone laying awake at night: “Hmmm, now how can I get a family I don’t even know pay for my little angel’s birthday party?” or “How can I spoil that person’s life today?”

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The Cat Whisperer January 8, 2011 at 12:48 am

Ikb said: “…Not that meanness doesn’t happen but I just can’t envision someone laying awake at night: “Hmmm, now how can I get a family I don’t even know pay for my little angel’s birthday party?” or “How can I spoil that person’s life today?” ”

I tell you what, I envisioned a possible different scenario: it isn’t clear that the OP received a formal invitation to the party, in the sense of a written/printed “you are invited to a party for…” invitation. Instead, the other girl verbally asked her to come to the party, which from the description the OP gave, seems to have been purely a family party for the other girl (OP says she was the only one at the party who wasn’t related to the other birthday girl or her family).

It might be that if the other girl didn’t tell her parents and family explicitly about her invitation to the other girl, the parents might have formed the impression that she “crashed” a family party and were annoyed. If the other girl kept mum about her invitation, or (worse yet) told her parents “I don’t know why she’s here, I didn’t ask her to come,” the parents might have become annoyed. Which would not have excused the post-party demand for repayment, but might make their actions at least comprehensible in a very rude way. Their viewpoint would have been of the OP, who neither they nor their daughter were close to, as a party-crasher.

I mention this because I was vicitimized in much the same way by a neighbor once. Her daughter asked me to an event, but it wasn’t a formal written ; and when I showed up, the daughter denied to her mother that she’d asked me. Both I and my mother were treated very rudely by this neighbor, who declared that we had a lot of nerve and evidently had never learned manners. Her daughter, needless to say, completely denied having asked me to the event when she saw how angry her mother was at my showing up.

Considering the circumstances described, I wonder if it was a similar situation for the OP.

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Maryjelly January 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

Hi!
I wrote this post.
To clarify: I was clearly expected at the party when I arrived. To be fair, I remember now that I received a small gift (a notepad or something similar) from my friend and/or her mom at the party. I thought this was really sweet (I don’t know if the cost for this was included in the bill…) but to me it was very clear I got the gift because my birthday was coming up, not because it was a joint party, because nothing else at the party indicated this. They sang a birthday song, but I was definitely not included.

The communication beforehand was exactly as in the post. She asked if I wanted to “celebrate together” and I gave a vague answer to be polite and didn’t really think more about it. I thought she meant that she wanted to hang out someday just the two of us and I didn’t mind but I wasn’t thrilled either. Not because I didn’t like her, but we just weren’t close and didn’t have much in common.

When she later invited me home I didn’t know it would be a big party. When it was I thought that “celebrating together” was just a way of inviting me to her party. I do remember her saying something about a cake and decorations she would like to have, but she talked about it like any kid would, looking forward to a birthday. It is possible that she and/or her mom thought this meant we did some co-planning though (of course) I never made any requests and we didn’t talk more than occasionally in school breaks.

It was never communicated to me, much less my mom, that it was a joint party and nothing about costs or guests. Our mothers had never spoken before the bill. The only thing I told my mom was that I was going to a friend’s house because it was her birthday.
I don’t know if they planned a scheme in beforehand but I don’t believe that my friend had any other intention than wanting to be my friend- if she knew about the plan the miscommunication was between me and her but probably also between her and her family. But I still think it was very weird of her family to assume anything and to think that splitting the bill would’ve been fair, especially afterwards.

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