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The Missed Party Invoice – Updated

Alex Nash, 5, was invited to a friend’s birthday party at a ski and snowboarding facility, according to the Plymouth Herald.

Alex’s parents responded to the invitation and indicated Alex would attend the party.

Alex’s parents later realized they already had other plans for that day and he did not attend the party. The boy’s father said he did not have contact information for the birthday boy’s mother to let her know Alex had changed his mind and would no longer be attending the party.

Several days later, Alex came home from school with an invoice from the birthday boy’s mother for a $24 “child’s party no show fee.”

So many questions left unanswered.  For starters,  how is it that the parents were able to rsvp to the invitation indicating Alex would be attending the party yet later claim to not have that same contact information to alert her of the changed plans?   And unless the school administration gave Mr. Nash the hostess’ address (something that would have *never* happened in the US), how did he know where she lived to go knock on her door to confront her about the invoice?  It seems to me that the means were there for the Nashes to get in touch with the birthday party hostess but were not utilized until it became necessary to take issue with the invoice.  Bottom line, Mr. Nash, if you rsvp in the affirmative that you or a child of yours will be attending a party, etiquette requires that you honor that rsvp unless you are on your deathbed.   Having replied that Alex would be in attendance at this ski and snowboarding party, you had an obligation to honor that rsvp to the best of your ability which, by the way, means you go the extra mile to inform the hostess ahead of time that you must rescind your rsvp.

However, Ms. Party Hostess, you are not off the hook either.   It appears you planned a birthday party that was quite expensive per guest. Anyone who has extended any kind of hospitality knows, from experience, that guests cannot be relied upon to either honor their rsvps or even bother to rsvp at all.   It’s one of the ubiquitous yet annoying aspects of entertaining these days.  However, as much as guests can annoy their kind hosts and hostesses to the point of aggravation, sending guests formal invoices for failing to show up is a guaranteed, one way, no layovers trip to Etiquette Hell.   What is next? Invoicing guests whose birthday gifts are not sufficiently expensive enough to offset the costs of the party?

The gracious host plans a party he/she can afford with no expectation that guests have any obligation to offset the cost of entertaining.   Emergencies happen and guests who you were expecting to arrive have suddenly bailed due to some unforeseen problem.   Sometimes evil guests bail simply because something better has come up.   If you cannot afford to absorb the cost of an unused meal or entertainment, you have no business planning parties that are clearly out of your league.

The answer is not to invoice the guest but rather strike them from all future guest lists thus leaving them scratching their heads and pondering why they never get invited anywhere.

Update:   Ms. Party Hostess has chimed in with her side of the story HERE.    My conclusions remain the same except that I note that the Nashes missed an opportunity to teach Alex a lesson in honoring his word when they allowed him to choose an outing with his grandparents instead of having the integrity to stay committed to his rsvp to a birthday party.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mojo January 20, 2015, 11:54 am

    I don’t understand this problem. The hostess would have incurred the cost of Alex’s place at the party, whether he attended or not. She’s not lost out at all, unless she was expecting each parent to cough up the $24 when they dropped their child off for the party.

    She’s not out of pocket, why on earth would she invoice? And in such a sneaky way.

    • Mary January 20, 2015, 7:28 pm

      I’m assuming she had to give the party venue a count 24-48 hours in advance and then she was expected to pay the cost of that count even if everyone didn’t show. Kind of like our wedding where we needed a head count for the sit down dinner 7 days in advance. We had to pay for that number of meals even if not everyone showed up.

    • Rebecca January 21, 2015, 1:10 am

      Well it was very kind of her to pay for an expensive day out at the snow park, and to be thanked for that with a no-show, I’d be rather miffed too. If I offer to treat someone to something it’s because I want to be nice and give them a good time, and to have them let me pay for it and just waste it by not showing up after I’ve paid, would really offend me.

    • JP January 25, 2015, 6:04 pm

      Of course she’s out of pocket. She paid for someone who didn’t attend. Had they RSVP’d “no”, she wouldn’t have had to pay that money. Basic maths.

      These people should either have told their child he could see Grandma another day and attended the party, or paid the host for the place they would not be using. Had they RSVPD no she would not have been out of pocket.

  • Ashley January 20, 2015, 11:55 am

    Here is my understanding from other articles I’ve read on the subject.

    First, it seems as if Alex was invited in person, not via an actual printed invite, but then other articles indicate that there was a paper invite in circulation but it had gotten lost.

    I’ve also read in a couple other articles that at no point in time was any cost of anything mentioned in this, no one mentioned how much the hosts were paying per person, so Alex’s parents didn’t know anything would be lost by Alex not going.

    There seems to be a lot of different details flying around in this case, but this is what I’ve heard/read.

    Regardless, these things happen. Sometimes, last minute, people just can’t attend things they have previously RSVP’d for. I had several guests get legitimately sick the morning of my wedding, I didn’t invoice them for the cost of their plates. Likewise, I don’t think Alex’s parents should have been invoiced for their son missing this party. I do absolutely agree though that more of an attempt should have been made to try and contact the hosts when it became clear that Alex wasn’t going to the party.

  • Justine January 20, 2015, 11:59 am

    Well said admin. They could RSVP but not un-RSVP. And a $24 invoice? Just don’t invite that boy next time.

    • Anonymous January 20, 2015, 10:10 pm

      That works with adults, but, as previous posters have said, the parents set Alex up to fail by asking him “birthday party, or grandparents?” on the morning of the party. Also, we’re talking kindergarteners here. “Next time” could very well mean “next year’s birthday party,” which feels like eons away in kid time. Saying, “No, Tommy, you can’t invite Alex because he RSVP’ed ‘yes’ but didn’t come to the party last year” seems kind of petty, because, to a six-year-old, “last year” is ancient history. In their world, Alex is, say, their friend who they played soccer with today at recess; their friend who helped them make a bird feeder at Beaver Scouts by tying the string on the Crisco-and-birdseed-covered pine cone because they didn’t know how. Everything before that is a blur, unless they concentrate and think about it really hard, and everything to come is a total surprise, because they’re still developing foresight. So, telling a child that they can’t invite last year’s no-show guest is about as effective as telling the no-show child that he won’t be invited to Any Party Ever Again because he bailed on the birthday party that happened weeks or months ago.

  • ss January 20, 2015, 12:17 pm

    I am curious how many no-shows happened at the party that the hostess ended up paying for. I can see making the parents take responsibility for making her incur the extra expense that they caused by not bothering to show up. Also, every article I’ve seen on this has asserted that the invitation had the contact info yet no one has bothered to show the invitation to settle that question easily. Every article does show the invoice.

  • Harley Granny January 20, 2015, 12:27 pm

    I totally agree with Admin.
    For anyone who’ve attempted to host even the most basic of birthday parties for their child knows how frustrating it is to have both no shows and non RSVP people show up.

    And because I’m not buying the Dad’s excuse of not knowing how to get ahold of the hostess, the snarky part of me is enjoying the invoice.

    He’s also setting a bad example for his son.

  • Gena January 20, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Unfortunately, children wind up paying for their parents mistakes. My daughter was very good friends with a very sweet girl that we loved. But every time her mother brought her to our house, “emergencies” would occur and she wouldn’t pick the girl up for hours, and I mean on at least 2 occasions it was close to midnight when she arrived. so we had to severely curtail our dd’s visits with her.

    when my DD had a birthday party, I thought long and hard about inviting this girl. I did invite her, with the assumption I might have to keep her for a while afterwards. To my surprise her mother arrived on time to pick her up.

  • Calli Arcale January 20, 2015, 12:48 pm

    This one just blows my mind. I think the hostess made the worst etiquette gaffe in sending the invite (though only barely; I’d give the no-show the benefit of the doubt if they hadn’t taken pains to claim a bafflingly temporary ignorance of how to contact the hostess). Basically, it seems a boor invited the child of some other boors to her child’s birthday party. The real losers here are the children, I think, who are growing up deprived of good role models and who are being taught entitlement over graciousness.

  • lfa January 20, 2015, 12:50 pm

    I saw this story yesterday and wondered how long it would take for it to end up here!

    The invitee’s parents should have given an updated, accurate RSVP once they realized they were double-booked. There’s really no excuse for that–they could have found a phone number or email online, by asking another classroom parent, or at school drop-off/pick-up (yes, schedules may make this inconvenient, but it’s the courteous thing to do).

    But once that invitation has been extended, you don’t get to dictate and change the terms of your hospitality from your original invitation. There will be no-shows in all aspects of life and yes it affects the plans you’ve made…chalk it up to a learning experience. As Admin says, if you couldn’t afford the cost of people who didn’t show, then that number of people shouldn’t have been invited in the first place.

    Part of me wonders if this is the kind of party where guests showed up and then found out they had to purchase their own food and drinks and entertainment… were the attendees also charged $25 once they arrived?

  • Alissa C January 20, 2015, 12:55 pm

    I read this full story somewhere, and the father said they couldn’t find the original invite to get a hold of the other mother to cancel their rsvp, as they realized they had made conflicting plans with their kid’s grandparents. (So the choice was family or party, and the kid choose family.)

    As to how he got her address to confront her….it was on the invoice, along with a warning that she’ll be filing a small claims case against them if they don’t pay.

    Yes, it’s rude to be a no-show, whether it’s a high cost activity party or cupcakes and the kids uncle making animal balloons in their backyard. They could have called around to other parents to try and track down the host family’s contact info. Or, you know, not thrown out the invite for something they RSVP’d to. But personally, I think the host mother is more in the wrong than anyone else. Everything about what she did is icky. You weren’t selling spots to your kid’s party….you were offering hospitality. And unfortunately that comes with dealing with other people’s behavior, whether it’s a no-show, lateness, bringing along a sibling, etc. You -talk- to people. Not charge them. Yuck.

    • riversong January 20, 2015, 2:57 pm

      I completely agree. I love having parties for my kids, and I rarely get an RSVP from other parents. And the ones that do sometimes don’t show. It’s frustrating but that’s just part of dealing with people. I just try to make sure I have enough for everyone I invited, plus a few extras in case siblings come. These aren’t formal galas, they’re children’s parties. It’s important to remember that these people aren’t my friends and loved ones, these are just other people who’s children happen to know mine, and don’t necessarily want to commit to birthday parties on their weekends. It’s frustrating but understandable. It’s way more rude, in my opinion, to throw a fit and demand payment for something they never agreed to pay for. Just suck it up, move one and never invite that particular child again if that’s what you choose to do.

      • Anonymous January 21, 2015, 8:43 am

        The invoice wasn’t okay, but honestly, even if a children’s birthday party isn’t a formal gala, it still requires a head count, and since it involves children, now is the time to teach that lesson, so they don’t grow up thinking that it’s okay to, say, blow off their friend’s wedding to go to the beach. In this case, the parents needed an exact head count so they’d know how many ski tickets to buy, but even if it’s a “homemade” party at your house or at a park or some other venue that doesn’t cost money, too many no-shows or uninvited extra guests/non-RSVP people showing up, could really screw things up. Too many uninvited/non-RSVP people could result in either not enough party accoutrements to go around, and too many no-shows could result in a disappointed birthday kid at the party, followed by tons of leftovers, and the host family having to eat potato chips and Funfetti cake for every meal for the next week. Also, sometimes even home/park/free venue parties need a head count. For example, I remember a story on E-Hell about someone hosting a murder mystery dinner, and she had to rewrite the whole story to accommodate no-shows. The other thing is, what kind of lesson does it teach the birthday kid? Even if Birthday Kid’s parents always reinforce the importance of following through on commitments, that doesn’t stop Birthday Kid from thinking, “All ten of my friends who I invited to my birthday party said they were coming, but only three actually did, and Mommy and Daddy say that I’m not allowed to call them out on it at school tomorrow. Maybe it isn’t so important to do what I say I will, because seven people broke their promise to me, and nothing bad happened to them.” My point is, teach kids to do the right thing now, while the stakes are still relatively low. It’s not even limited to social events. I mean, in the adult world, if you come late to the opera, you won’t be seated until the second act. If you miss a job interview, you probably won’t get the job (unless it was really an emergency, and you explain yourself and reschedule). If you miss your plane, it’s pretty hard to get put on another one–after all, the next plane might be full. If you say you’re going to fill in for someone at work, and don’t show up, then you’ll get in trouble there. Four or five is about the age when kids start learning about making promises. At that age, it’s a birthday party RSVP, or promising not to suddenly get off the teeter-totter and send their companion crashing down to the ground, or standing up and saying “I promise to share and be a friend” at Sparks (Canadian equivalent of Daisy Scouts), but if you teach a child that “promise” means “I’ll say I’ll do it, but it’s okay to back out if I don’t feel like it later,” then you’re doing a huge disservice to them, and everyone around them.

        • riversong January 21, 2015, 5:32 pm

          I completely agree that the Nash parents were rude and missed a teaching moment. But what I don’t understand is why in this case, so many people have decided that means it’s ok to teach them a lesson. Polite adults shouldn’t set out to teach another adult a lesson. Life does that. If you continually RSVP and then don’t show, other parents will not invite you. That is a natural outcome. Billing someone later because you think they deserve to be taught a lesson is not. Just a few days ago there was a thread about someone saying something rude at a dinner party and the overwhelming majority agreed that the polite thing to do was not to engage, take the higher road and let that person’s crass speak for itself. It’s my opinion that the invoicing mom should have done that.
          And RSVP-ing doesn’t create a legally binding contract that one could sue over, so this was purely done out of anger and spite. And I completely agree the no-show parents were rude, and despite what they say, most likely just didn’t give it a second thought. Completely unacceptable. And it’s possible and likely, that one five year old might say to another five year old on the playground along the lines of “why didn’t you come to my party?” But I think that saying that the birthday boy is learning a profound lesson that promises don’t have to be kept because a couple children didn’t show up for his party is stretching it. Speaking from my experience, they usually ask “where was ?” (if they notice at all) and I respond, “I don’t know, dear. Something must have come up.”
          We can’t control how other people behave, only how we respond.

          • Anonymous January 21, 2015, 9:10 pm

            No, obviously, adults shouldn’t invoice, sue, or “try to teach other adults a lesson” over a birthday party no-show (either their own, or their child’s). My point was, the Nash parents seem to be completely oblivious to RSVP etiquette, commitment, and following through. If they’d been taught these lessons in childhood, then they wouldn’t have made such an egregious faux-pas in the first place. They would have checked their calendar before RSVP’ing, or even if they forgot, they would have held onto the invitation, or found some way to contact the party parents, explained their mistake, and apologized that Alex couldn’t come after all, before the RSVP deadline, so they could still give the venue an accurate head count. Alternatively, they could have rescheduled or reconfigured the plans with the grandparents, so Alex could attend the party AND spend time with them. Instead, they did the rudest possible thing, waited until the last minute, and set their son up to be rude. Since they still don’t see that they did anything wrong, Alex is going to grow up to perpetuate that cycle, unless he joins this board, or finds an etiquette book at the library, or learns from one of his friends’ parents, because he’s sure as heck not going to learn it from his own parents.

  • Dee January 20, 2015, 12:56 pm

    I read that Alex’s parents gave their RSVP in person, at school, so it may very well be that they did not have a written invitation or lost it after the fact. Still, both sides are exhibiting embarrassingly childish behaviours for their children to follow. When my kids were little I quickly learned to leave a pertinent piece of info off the invitations so that a parent had to phone to find out the time/address or something like that. If I didn’t receive a call then I knew that that child wasn’t coming. And I also found that most parents who had to actually talk to me and make conversation about the party over the phone did end up honouring their commitment. I’m so glad to have those party days over, trying to support relationships between my child and his friends while having to deal with (sometimes) immature parents, and that I have really good, reliable friends to count on now.

    I think this story is a great example to all parents – just because it’s a little kid’s party doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. If you make a commitment, keep it. Hopefully that’s the message Alex will learn, despite his parents’ behaviour.

    • BellyJean January 20, 2015, 4:34 pm

      Dee – I love that, that’s a great idea! “When my kids were little I quickly learned to leave a pertinent piece of info off the invitations so that a parent had to phone to find out the time/address or something like that.”

  • PatGreen January 20, 2015, 12:59 pm

    How many people do you think read about this, then raced to add “people whom have RSVPed who are no-shows will be charged” to their wedding invitations, baby shower invitations, etc.

    We live in a world of instant communication. Did he not exchange cell phone information with the host parents in case of emergency? Did he know anyone else who might have their number? Did the class have a website with email capabilities?

    What he did was rude, but unfortunately not everyone who says they will attend will do so. Even if everyone has the best of manners and intentions, emergencies happen. Like with weddings, one does not expect the guest to pay for a party one cannot afford.

    • Antonia January 27, 2015, 3:01 am

      Actually, sometimes no-shows can be charged, and I have no problem with that. When I worked for a fairly large company on the east coast, their winter party was a large and pretty elaborate affair. All of the stylists in the company were given an invitation with the option of a +1. If you RSVP’d with a +1 you were expected to pay for your guest ($95, so not cheap), but you attended for free. If you RSVP’ed (with a guest or not) and didn’t show, you had the cost of your attendance deducted from your next paycheck. Made perfect sense to me as the venue had to be booked and your meal provided. Otherwise your meal would be wasted and any additional costs would be on the company. Is it really so hard to simply do what you have committed to do? Or bear the brunt if you choose not to?

      • Anonymous January 31, 2015, 7:14 pm

        That’s a pretty good system, but I have to ask, was that company party truly optional, or was it one of those “it’s beneficial to attend” things, that’s really code for “mandatory, if you want to keep your job/not be marked down on the next review/whatever?” Because, a lot of people (myself included) really hate big parties and events. A lot of people who feel this way might feel like they can’t say no, for fear of the job-related repercussions that might follow, so they RSVP yes, and then, as the day approaches, they figure, “It’s a big company; nobody will miss me, and maybe the bosses are only really checking the RSVP list.” Or, maybe they RSVP yes, and plan to go, at least for a little bit, but then when the day comes, they just can’t face a big, crowded gathering. Or, maybe they attend, but by the time dinner is served, they’ve had enough, and they need to leave. When I’m invited to a big event, as a social thing, I usually say no, but if I had the kind of job that did these kinds of large company parties, I’d feel really stuck.

  • Miriam January 20, 2015, 1:15 pm

    “The answer is not to invoice the guest but rather strike them from all future guest lists thus leaving them scratching their heads and pondering why they never get invited anywhere.”

    Nice theory, but when the guests in question [who had the date of the party re-scheduled (twice) for their convenience] are no-shows [no call to let us know (so no apology, obviously)] it’s a bit different when they are your in-laws…

    Oh, and the party was to celebrate our marriage. 🙁

    On the up-side, I feel like I have been given a Get Out Of Jail Free card that I can play should I ever need it, and I have come to understand [that party wasn’t the only occasion for their non-attendance, just the one that upset my husband the most] that a subsequent invite need not be refused… [I don’t do that, but I don’t feel the need to attend ‘family’ gatherings too often (I do offer my apologies in advance – a big thanks to the eHellions who taught me that reading in my pj’s counts as “prior plans”).]

    • RC January 20, 2015, 3:21 pm

      Wait, what? Your in-laws didn’t come to your wedding?? Oh wow. I’m sorry 🙁

    • Emerald January 24, 2015, 10:30 pm

      I agree with RC, that is horrible.

  • Dippy January 20, 2015, 1:30 pm

    Everyone is wrong all around on this one!

  • LadyV January 20, 2015, 1:33 pm

    I bet Ms. Party Hostess was one of those brides that was ticked off if any of her wedding guests gave a gift whose value wasn’t at LEAST the equivalent of the cost of their plate at the reception. Admin is right – if you can’t afford to eat the cost of any no-shows, you need to scale back your plans.

  • michellep January 20, 2015, 1:51 pm

    I read an article about this, which indicated that the parents of the kid who didn’t show were more upset about the fact that the birthday mom put the invoice in the kid’s backpack at school.

  • michellep January 20, 2015, 1:56 pm

    The Nashes have made excuses for not rsvping, but there’s no excuse for it. However, I think that the birthday party host was just as guilty. I have thrown several birthday parties for my daughter, paid for a certain amount of children, and had to absorb the cost of their not showing. I didn’t invite them again.

  • Karen L January 20, 2015, 2:04 pm

    Oh, joy! Another irresponsible parent teaching their child that obligations are irrelevant and other human beings are merely effluvium in the path of one’s life.

  • Ergala January 20, 2015, 2:06 pm

    What they also fail to mention is that the resort was willing to give her CREDIT for the amount she was out at the party. She apparently chose instead to invoice the parents.

    As for RSVPing…from what I understand it was verbal, probably the child went to school and told the birthday boy he was able to go. This is why I never ever trust verbal invites and verbal RSVP’s…my son has come home many times saying he was invited to another child’s party but there was no paper invitation or a contact number for me to call the parents and verify the invite or RSVP. I don’t let him go to those. If I don’t get a call from an adult I assume a child isn’t coming to one of our parties either. I remember growing up and how these things happened…

    I wonder if he got the information because of the invoice…maybe he called the resort to find out who issued it and to see if they were the ones who billed him. When it comes to kids parties I have come to expect at least 1 or 2 no shows. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do pay per head ahead of time spots for a party. We held one at a local indoor pool, we paid for the room and then paid for people to go swimming when they arrived, that way we didn’t pay for 20 people and only 12 showed up. I’m glad we did that too because we had a whopping 10 no shows after they called to confirm the week earlier and called to check on the time the night before and said they would be there.

  • Oh Dear January 20, 2015, 2:11 pm

    It’s my understanding from a previous article on this story, that the parents either lost the invitation with the contact information on it or had accidentally thrown it away. The invoice they received had the other parent’s address on it to inform them where to send the check. Having a small child, I can understand how an invite could be lost or thrown out before a party, but it does seem that they could have sent a note to the other parent through the school since that is how they received the invitation in the first place. Perhaps they only realized the night before the party that they had double booked their weekend, but even then I think I would have *at least* sent a note of apology and explanation to the school for the parent the following Monday.

    From my own experience, I know that the RSVP rate for children’s parties is ridiculously low and inconsistent. Some of it is warranted, as children get sick or injured unexpectedly more often than adults. With very young children (which I would include a 5 year old at the end of that age list), if they are in a particularly unsocial mood and are having tantrums that day, the parent might decide to keep them home to keep them from acting out at a party. Though neither of those issues were the case here, the hostess should still realistically expect that some people may not show. It’s one of the perils of hosting.

    Treating a child’s birthday invitation as a legal contract versus a social obligation speaks volumes to the type of petty person the hosting parents are. The gracious thing is to make a mental note and simply tell the other child and their parents they were missed should you run into them at the school.

    • Goldie January 20, 2015, 5:08 pm

      This * a lot. And this is also why it’s not a great idea to have a very young child’s birthday party at an expensive place. ($25 is expensive). Better yet, like Ergala said above, pay for the room. I had a huge number of no-shows once too, at a bowling alley. It was our very first party and we were new and inexperienced about properly getting RSVPs, following up, getting accurate headcount etc. Only one child from my son’s class came to the party. The rest were all family friends and a few friends from the daycare center that he attended a few years prior. We must’ve somehow worked it out with the bowling alley (probably used a few spots for ourselves and the other kids’ parents who were our friends), because I don’t remember being out a huge amount of money, neither do I recall paying for a lot of empty spots. It probably helped that this was a low-key place like a bowling alley, and not something fancy like a ski resort.

      • Goldie January 20, 2015, 5:11 pm

        Re apologizing, they couldn’t do it right away as the school was closed for winter break.

        From the article: “On January 6 Alex went back to school as the new term got under way.

        Mr Nash continued: “My partner looked out for [the friend’s mother] to apologise for Alex not showing up to the party, but didn’t see her.”

        I agree that Mr. Nash’s partner should’ve looked harder and probably enlisted the teacher’s help in looking.

        • B January 21, 2015, 10:23 am

          Disclaimer: hostess was very rude to send the invoice.

          However, given that Mr Nash’s son bailed for no good reason beyond deciding his parents they’d rather do something else, an apology counts for absolutely nothing. “Sorry Alex didn’t come, we decided to do X” is worthless. The Nashes’ manners are appalling, and I marvel he wants to splash his ignorance all over the local media, and drag his poor child into it.

          • ergala January 22, 2015, 7:55 am

            That isn’t what happened though. The plans with the grandparents had already been made when he was invited. One parent didn’t know and accepted the invitation. He was honoring the original plans.

  • cookiesandmilk January 20, 2015, 2:17 pm

    The first article I read said they had lost the original invite with the contact information. I assume he got their address from the invoice, though it was not stated if that was on it. It had their bank account details on it, so I can only imagine their address was on it. The article also pointed out that it had the mother’s e-mail and full name, so perhaps they did not know the mothers name to begin finding her. I find that strange, though.

    Now they probably could have figured out a way to contact them (maybe just ask another parent whose child was invited), and they really should have, but to invoice someone is absolutely ridiculous.

    Also this did not occur in the US. It was in the UK.

  • ConAffetto January 20, 2015, 2:40 pm

    According to some other articles (I’m looking at Daily Mail but take that with a grain of salt), the whole reason they didn’t have the information is that it was passed via the school, which is why this was such an issue. The invitation, RSVP, and subsequent invoice were sent via backpacks of the students.

    This is also the reason the invoice was such a big deal— it wasn’t given to the parents directly. The teacher (unknowing of what it was) took it from the child of the party hosts, and delivered it to the child of the non-RSVPing family on school property. The parents actually got it from their own child. The invoice then actually had the address an d name.

  • lakey January 20, 2015, 2:52 pm

    It was wrong of the hostess to send a bill to the no shows. However, anyone who has been involved with organizing field trips, fund-raising events, parties, receptions, and so on knows how frustrating it is to deal with people who can’t be bothered to RSVP at all, cancel when plans change, send in needed permission slips for field trips, pay their charges for field trips, or return orders or money for fund raising activities. Organizing these events is a lot of work. When people don’t bother to do their part it increases the work for the organizers. I always felt sorry for the volunteer parents who handled class parties, field days, fund-raising events, and so on for the school. People who are already stretched thin shouldn’t have to spend hours on the phone begging people to handle their small share of the responsibility.

    There are people who are workers and there are people who sit back and let others do all the work, but expect the benefit of the work that others do. You see this a lot with school functions. The parent volunteers who do a lot of the organizing for extras end up being burned out.

    Mom shouldn’t have billed the dad of the no show. But a part of me is glad she did. Maybe the next time someone offers a special treat for him or his son, he’ll put a tiny bit of effort into being considerate.

  • JO January 20, 2015, 4:08 pm

    For me, the worst part about this whole situation is what awful examples BOTH sets of parents are setting for their children. Here they all had a chance to teach lessons about responsibility, hospitality, graciousness, gratefulness, courtesy, and understanding. Instead they have shown their children it is OK to act selfishly, be greedy, disregard others’ feelings and be confrontational when things don’t go your way. I feel terrible for the kids who are caught up in all this mess.

  • Angel January 20, 2015, 4:28 pm

    Just a couple of thoughts here:
    1. I can’t believe this is an actual news story. An international news story at that!
    2. Both sets of parents behaved badly. The parents who gave the kid a choice about what he wanted to do (after already committing to the party) and the parents who spent so much money on a snow tubing party that they felt compelled to invoice a no-show.
    3. Seriously just don’t invite the kid anymore, if he typically does not show up when expected to.
    4. I would be interested to see the outcome if the mom does decide to go through with this ridiculous lawsuit!

    • ergala January 21, 2015, 9:13 am

      For #2, I thought he was already committed to the grandparents. They accepted the party invite forgetting about the outing with family.

      • Angel January 25, 2015, 9:56 pm

        ergala, I have seen a version that said the grandparents came to spend time with the little boy’s sister–and on the day of they gave the little boy the choice of either tagging along on the sister’s outing with the grandparents, or attending the birthday party that they had already agreed the little boy would attend. The little boy naturally chose the grandparents (as most 5 year olds would). So it was not a preplanned outing for the little boy–it was decided at the last minute.

        Now this doesn’t make what the birthday boy’s mom did right. But the other side is not right either! There was enough rudeness on both sides. And both behaved badly. Not a good example to set for kids!

  • Vandalia January 20, 2015, 5:00 pm

    Yes, this: “[T]he Nashes missed an opportunity to teach Alex a lesson in honoring his word when they allowed him to choose an outing with his grandparents instead of having the integrity to stay committed to his rsvp to a birthday party.”
    I wish more people realized what kind of message they are sending when they renege on plans like this.

  • Melissa Sternenberg January 20, 2015, 5:19 pm

    ” how is it that the parents were able to rsvp to the invitation indicating Alex would be attending the party yet later claim to not have that same contact information to alert her of the changed plans”

    I simply figured that the invites and RSVPs were exchanged in the classroom. Isn’t that entirely possible?

  • Shyla January 20, 2015, 8:21 pm

    I understood that the event was planned with the grandparents before the party rsvp happened. The child was double-booked for the day. He is a young child so that is his parents’ fault. However, I would be willing to speculate that the boy never chose which event to attend. It’s way too easy to blame your own bad decisions on a child. They probably sent the boy with his grandparents because they have to deal with the grandparents long term.

    I have no idea why they would want to publicize this to the entire world.

  • cassandra January 20, 2015, 9:08 pm

    After I RSVP to a party for my children I tend to write the date and time down and toss the invite. I see no reason I need to save it. So they really may not have had that information anymore, especially since it seems that the dad RSVPed in person.
    The mom has said repeatedly she wouldn’t have minded reimbursing if the “party” mom had asked for the money in a different way, instead of sneaking an invoice in her child’s bag at school! And in pictures of the invoice it looks like the address of who they are suppose to pay is on the invoice, answering the question of how they would know where she lived.
    This is just a bunch of childish drama and I am unsure of how it made the news!

  • CaliGirl January 21, 2015, 12:02 am

    No one looks good in this mess. Shame on the parents for making a public spectacle of their local spat with another rude parent onto Facebook, TV and the blogosphere at the expense of their kids. Those boys still have to go to school. What some people will do for some public attention boggles me.

  • Muffy January 21, 2015, 12:06 am

    How could they not have known contact details? The child would have to have been dropped off either at the home of the birthday boy or the venue, meaning they knew the home address/venue phone number. Sounds like they couldn’t be bothered and are trying to defend their lack of consideration to garner support for their bad manners.

    Mind you, birthday child’s Mum doesn’t look good either.

    • ergala January 21, 2015, 9:16 am

      My kids have been invited to parties and I had no clue who the child or parents were. Usually the invites were blanket invites…as in the whole class is invited. They choose a public venue and that is that. My son was invited to one up in our old town and it was at the public park. It was extremely…well…awkward for me. I was the only parent there who didn’t know the hosting family and they weren’t exactly the kind of people I would choose to socialize with willingly. I didn’t know this and was just excited that my child with Aspergers was invited to a birthday party! My son didn’t even want to stay for cake, we ended up giving our birthday wishes and leaving after an hour. The other kids didn’t want to play with him and nobody would talk to me even when I tried to offer small talk (which I admit I am horrible at).

  • just4kicks January 21, 2015, 4:27 am

    My daughter was invited to a party at “Bounce U” (a huge gym filled with large inflatable slides and jumpy houses) when she was seven or so. She scampered off with all the other kids and I hung out with the adults. The mom of the guest of honor was complaining that everyone invited enthusiastically said they were coming. The night of the party ten of the kids didn’t show up. The mom said only ONE parent called that morning to say her son had come down with a stomach virus during the night and wouldn’t be there. The other nine? Nope. The mom was ticked off because she said around noon, she was required to give a total head count for that night’s party. She said if she would have been informed ten kids weren’t coming, the venue would have either reimbursed her that night when she got there, or the planners would have “beefed up” the other kids party bags and put up more decorations. She was polite enough not to mention just how much money she’d lost out on, but we had looked into using that place earlier in the year for one of my son’s b’day parties, and it wasn’t cheap!!! If I remember correctly, it was around $15.00 a head, so she lost out on around $150.00, all because people were too lazy (except for the one child) to pick up a phone and say they weren’t coming after all. I’d have been furious….that’s not chump change!!!

    • admin January 21, 2015, 4:37 am

      If she was willing and able to pay $15 per child who was invited, then she did not “lose” more money than she budgeted when 10 kids did not show up. She could have saved $150 but that is a different issue.

      • Raven January 21, 2015, 9:09 am

        I see your point, Admin, but I can see how it would feel like losing money. I love spending time and money to put together a lovely dinner party (for example). I don’t mind the expense at all, until people back out. Then I end up feeling like I spent money for nothing. Yes, I still have delicious food leftover, but it isn’t quite the same. I know it probably sounds petty, but it’s the truth. I like a reasonable return on my investment. However, you are correct in that technically, she had been prepared to pay the amount either way, so there is really no “loss” here.

        • Dee January 21, 2015, 2:57 pm

          I think the point in all this has been missed – this isn’t necessarily about cost but about a little birthday boy’s hurt feelings. He had been promised that his friend, Alex, will be coming to his party. The day of, no Alex, no explanation, and that has got to hurt. Birthday boy’s mom can’t bill for hurt feelings, so she bills what she can. The party could have been cheap as dirt but the hurt/damage would still be the same. There has been little to no mention of the feelings of the little boy, or how Alex will be treated in the future for something he is too young to be responsible for. I think this is why the parents should be condemned to EHell.

          • ergala January 22, 2015, 7:53 am

            And this is a good teaching lesson for the birthday boy about things like this happen but that it’s better to let it go and move on. Instead he is being taught about shaming those who hurt his feelings and seeking revenge.

      • Library Diva January 21, 2015, 10:10 am

        She did pay for something she didn’t get, though, and that’s really galling when that sort of thing happens. It probably could have been avoided, too.

      • Anonymous January 21, 2015, 12:40 pm

        Well, no matter how you look at it, ten kids didn’t show up. Only one of those ten had his mother call and say why. So, the other nine people’s rudeness ended up wasting the OP’s money, because she could have called Bounce U and said, “Hey, ten kids aren’t coming to the birthday party after all,” and they would have given her a choice of a partial refund, or reconfigured the party so that the attending kids got upgraded loot bags. There’s also the problem of “Can’t start the party until everyone is here” (which might not be as much of a problem at Bounce U as it was at the public swimming pool parties of my youth), and the other problem of explaining to a disappointed child why so many friends said they were coming to the party, but didn’t. I think those are valid points, regardless of how much or how little money is involved, and also, I think “waste” is a legitimate issue as well. I mean, it’s one thing to spend $X for Y number of party guests, but it’s annoying to still have to spend $X, when Y/2 guests actually show up……and you could have only spent $X/2 if the non-attendees had given you a heads-up in advance. I know, I know, “If you can’t afford to eat the cost of the no-shows, you can’t afford the party.” In theory, that’s true, but in practice, there are different shades of “can’t afford.” I mean, if having a birthday party at Bounce U would mean living on ramen noodles for two weeks, or not paying the gas bill, you obviously can’t afford it. But, a lot of people aren’t in those kinds of dire straits–for them, a venue party is within reach, but it’s still a stretch, and it might mean going without luxuries for a little while, or buying the birthday kid a smaller gift, because so much money’s going towards the party–and, the school is pressuring you to invite the whole class to avoid hurt feelings. So, imagine that you’ve gone without your weekly manicure for the past month, and you told Kiddo, “You can have a Bounce U party OR a new bicycle, pick one,” and Kiddo picks the Bounce U party. All 20 classmates RSVP ‘yes,’ but only 10 show up. Lo and behold, Canadian Tire (or your regional equivalent) is having a sale on children’s bicycles…….so you could have surprised Kiddo with both, if only the no-shows had told you by the RSVP deadline, which was the day before the venue’s ‘head count’ deadline, so you could have downgraded to the smaller party package.

        • just4kicks January 22, 2015, 5:15 am

          @Anonymous: That is precisely the point I was (unsuccessfully) trying to make.
          The parents shelled out money that could have been refunded, had the mom known at the time of the final head count. She had already paid, and could’ve gotten some of her money back for the no shows.

          One of my sons was invited to a party at McDonald’s play place when he was in the first grade or so. We arrived a few minutes early and there was a long table set up with 20 or so settings. We waited…..And waited….And waited. Finally after half an hour or so, the mom decided to get the party going. The kids had been running around already, the mom was waiting for the others to show up to bring out the food and cake. Only the birthday boy, his little sister, my son and one other classmate showed up. The parents were very upset when they realized that’s all who was coming. I had brought along my daughter for a happy meal and let her run around while her brother was at the party, so I was sitting near the party table. After an hour or so, the mom came up to me and asked my daughter’s name, and invited the both of us to please take a seat at the table. We did, and had a lovely time! I quietly asked the mom if I could chip in for my daughter’s meal, since we were not originally invited. She said “No, thank you, but as you can see, we’ve had quite a few no shows, and its a shame to let all this go to waste.” I don’t think the birthday boy realized just how many had not shown up…thank goodness. My kids had a ball, took home goody bags for themselves and my other kids (the mom insisted) and quite a large portion of the sheet cake. As we were leaving, I saw the dad going around to other children who happened to be there (not with the party, just eating dinner out), giving out left over goody bags and telling them if they would like some cake follow him to the play room. I thought that was very nice of them.
          My son and daughter sent a thank you note for the lovely time, and I included a gift card from my daughter, (my son of course brought a gift with him), for the birthday boy.

          • Anonymous January 22, 2015, 8:04 am

            Wow, that sounds like the party mom made the best of a bad (and very rude) situation, but I wonder what McDonald’s did with all the extra hamburgers and fries? If they hadn’t made them yet by the time the party started, did they refund the mother’s money? If they had them ready to go, did the father give them to other kids who happened to be at McDonald’s, but not with the party? Did the restaurant workers give them to a nearby shelter or something? Even as someone who doesn’t eat meat, the thought of wasting 15 or so hamburgers just seems obscene, when that food could go to people who need it. I’m sort of peripherally involved with an organization called Food Not Bombs (I’d be more actively involved if the local group didn’t always schedule events on one of the nights I teach yoga), but one big thing I’ve learned from my involvement, is that a lot fewer people would go hungry, if there wasn’t so much WASTE. Maybe people see social obligations this way too–they see Facebook as a dazzling “menu” or “buffet” of friend “options,” and so, they say “yes” to everything they’re invited to, even if they can’t actually DO everything, and to them, it’s just not a big deal if they let plans go to “waste” by standing someone up–in that case, the inviter is just “being too sensitive” and “needs to get over it,” and if they don’t, well, they have other friends they can be with instead.

      • just4kicks January 21, 2015, 1:43 pm

        I stand corrected.
        Yes, she would have able to recoup the amount for all the kids who did come, if she had known by noon that day when she gave a final count.

        • just4kicks January 22, 2015, 1:54 pm

          @Anonymous: In response to your question about the food, I don’t think any went to waste because once the whole group was there, the kids got to choose between chicken nuggets or a hamburger, and fries or Apple slices, and their choice of drinks. Once the mom realized no one else was coming, she went out to the manager, who came in and took everyone’s order, so I don’t think the meals were made ahead of time.

          • Anonymous January 22, 2015, 10:26 pm

            Well, that’s good that the food didn’t get wasted, but the people who bailed on the party still wasted the mother’s money, and risked disappointing the birthday boy as well. It’s a good thing he was too young to know the difference, but in a year or so, he probably will.

  • Emerald January 21, 2015, 4:43 am

    I was volunteered to organize a colleague’s lunch before going on maternity leave. She refused to go to the first venue (heard unsavory rumors re food handling, fair enough given she was pregnant) and suggested an alternative. This venue wanted to know how many people would attend – I underestimated by 5 so I wouldn’t be caught short (any number under the estimation had to be paid for). Still, on the day there were 3 people short (one being a GM who could not make it on short notice and could not be bothered to put their hand in their pocket to cover their “no show” cost). The invitation made it clear that a person not showing would still be charged by the restaurant. Three people were happy to shaft their colleagues for the cost. I am with the mum with the invoice.

    • Devin January 21, 2015, 5:53 pm

      Ahaha, ” was volunteered”. I know that feeling. Where I work we just call it ‘getting volunteered’. Pretty sure I’ve just ‘been volunteered’ to help with a company picnic that is being held the day after my birthday, while I have guests in town.

  • AnaLuisa January 21, 2015, 6:37 am

    I am perhaps old-fashioned, but I just do not understand how on earth anyone can RSVP “yes” and THEN decide not to go because he gets a “better offer”?

    I consider this INCREDIBLY rude towards the host who certainly has taken considerable trouble to arrange everything, let alone that he had to pay for it. A no-show for any reason but a very serious one, moreover without a proper apology, is virtually telling the host “you and your efforts are not important for me at all, what matters is that I pick the best deal for MYSELF, and the rest can go hang themselves”.

    I would consider this as an enormous outrage – certainly not on the part of the child, a five-year old is not mature enough to be aware of all the consequences, but on the part of the parents.

    I would chalk them off as stupid, impolite, ill-behaved scum.

    For my child’s 10th birthday, we prepared a Harry Potter-ish party, which was not expensive but took us several weeks to prepare – I hand-painted a false brick wall through which they entered a cellar, had a sorting ceremony, played quidditch and performed their own spell. We prepared all the props by hand, and it was a lot of fun but a lot of work too. If someone of the invited guests RSVP’d “yes” but then opted for no show just because they decided they had a better place to go to, I would be livid.

    I think we should teach our kids to honour their word, even if they are five years old.

    That said, sending an invoice was incredibly boorish as well, but somehow I feel it was a tit for a tat.

    • ergala January 21, 2015, 9:17 am

      Did you just refer to parents of a 5 year old who didn’t go to a party as “stupid, impolite, ill behaved scum”?? Seriously? Wow.

      • AnaLuisa January 21, 2015, 6:22 pm


        yes, I admit that what I said is harsh.

        But it NEVER happened to me, nor can I imagine doing it to someone else, and my blood was boiling just by thinking about it. By “it”, I mean confirming that I/my kids will come to someone’s party, and then opting out for something that suits me better. And not bothering to tell the host to top the cake.

        I can imagine all sorts of things – double booking (in which case I would explain the situation to the person whose invitation I accepted later, and apologize profusely), even forgetting about the event (in which case I would feel like crawling under the nearest stone and never come out again, and of course I would bend over backwards apologizing), but NOT doing this ON PURPOSE (ie accepting more invitations and then picking the one which suits me most).

        On second thoughts, you are right, I was perhaps a bit too harsh given that we do not know for sure the latter happened, and I should have given the Nashes the benefit of the doubt.

        Said that, I am really appalled how common this practice seems to be (as various commenters mentioned no-shows with no apology as something you must count on when organizing a party). I am not used to it, and consider such behaviour beyond rude, inconsiderate, a slap in the face of the host. And I am surprised how many people are willing (albeit grudgingly) to tolerate it.

        • Another Sarah January 22, 2015, 3:55 am

          The parents WERE honouring their word. They made plans with the grandparents first. The party was the double booking. It’s a mistake. It happens. They did not deal with it appropriately, but this hyperbole is totally unnecessary and the kind of attitude that leads people like the hostess into behaving far more badly than the original faux pas maker did because “they deserve it.” That’s playground logic.

        • ergala January 22, 2015, 7:48 am

          Thank you for acknowledging you were a bit harsh, it is really appreciated.

          No Shows are kind of par for the territory when it comes to children’s parties. I don’t blame the parents since as a mother myself I know what can happen. Tantrums the day of the party, someone gets sick in the car on the way to it, extremely tired children….you name it. I very rarely blow off an RSVP, I have like once or twice but once I had just given birth and the party was at a bowling alley. I was not bringing a newborn to a bowling alley. I actually went into labor at a child’s party with my youngest! One of the other moms noticed I wasn’t looking so good and I mentioned I was dizzy and didn’t feel so great. She immediately said “I think you’re in labor” to which I laughed. Next day I went to the doctors, sure enough I was in active labor and had no idea. I think that would have been a great excuse to blow off a party 😉

          I have two kids where their moods can change on a whim. We could be in the car and suddenly a tantrum or meltdown begins over the slightest thing. No they aren’t brats, one has high functioning Autism and Asperger’s and the other has moderate sensory issues. They look like perfectly normal children, act like normal kids, talk like little geniuses…but you throw off one element in their surroundings and it can be like a bomb went off inside their little heads. So we play it by hear and I usually tell the hosts that as well.

          • ergala January 22, 2015, 7:48 am

            *ear….cold fingers make Ergala have bad typey typey skills.

          • NostalgicGal December 27, 2015, 1:24 am

            I had an older aunt who had taken my mother in as a mother’s helper and had to leave the birthday party she was having for her oldest daughter to have her third son (fourth child). So my 14 year old mother had to deal with 7 7 year olds. They managed. Aunt kept going no I’m not, and got told yes you are, then went to the bathroom and broke water. Neighbor who was also helping with party took her to the hospital and she had the baby before the party was over.
            (back story, my mother was one of 13 and when her parents died she was 12 and 14 and there were four younger than she was. Social services weren’t the same so there were six that got farmed out somehow out to their siblings. So she ended up as a part time grocery clerk and a mother’s helper, leaving school after 8th grade).

      • psammead January 21, 2015, 7:48 pm

        And failure to RSVP is an “enormous outrage”? What is left to say about people who troll suicidal teens’ Facebooks or bilk elderly widows of their life savings?

    • David January 21, 2015, 10:52 am

      My understanding of the timeline of events is:

      1. Child made plans with his grandparents.
      2. Later, child receives invitation to Birthday Party of friend.
      3. Parents RSVP ‘yes’ to birthday party of friend.
      4. Parents then realize that child has already committed to plans for that day
      5. Parents don’t do enough to get in touch with hostess of the SECOND event for which they have scheduled their son.
      6. Parents give child choice of which event the day of events.
      7. Child decides to go on original event that was scheduled for that day
      8. Parents receive invoice for cost of birthday party.

      The interesting thing to me is that the Grandparents were the FIRST event he had scheduled. If he had then decided to go to the birthday party, he would have been ignoring the first event for a ‘better offer’ which we aren’t supposed to do.

      Either way, his parents were remiss in not checking to make sure he was free before accepting the invitation to the birthday party and not taking a bit of time to look up contact information for the other family and contacting them to rescind the RSVP once they realized that he already had an event scheduled – there is the web, phone books, all sorts of ways to find someone.

      The mother deciding to invoice the no-shows? I’d never accept an invite from her for anything. What would happen if I were in a car wreck or had an emergency medical situation on that day. Imagine being in the hospital and then she delivers her invoice because your emergency appendectomy made her out of pocket 25 bucks…

      • ergala January 21, 2015, 7:45 pm

        THANK YOU! This is what I have been trying to say! He originally made plans with his grandparents so he was honoring the original plans!

    • Belle January 21, 2015, 12:10 pm

      My niece and nephew are allowed to do this a lot; I made plans with their parents to take them out to do something, only to have them cancel due to the children deciding to do something else. They’ve cancelled on my parents a few time too due to ‘better offers’. I’ve told my mother that I will call their parents out on it next time they do so, which has yet to happen in over a year since the last incident. I’m hoping they’ve somehow learned their lesson.

    • Anonymous January 22, 2015, 9:04 am

      AnaLuisa, that Harry Potter party sounds incredibly fun. If I was your friend (or your child’s friend), I would have gone to that party…….after correctly RSVP’ing on time, of course.

  • Abby January 21, 2015, 7:55 am

    Of course the hostess mom was wrong to send an invoice, but the other parents just seem so oblivious to their own rudeness that it’s hard for me not to take Hostess Mom’s side. I mean, the hostess mom double confirmed with all the parents 48 hours prior to the party! It would be one thing if no more was said on the matter after the initial RSVP, but the hostess mom took the extra step to confirm with all the parents that the kids would be there. And even if the parents had tracked down the number of the mom, to say, we double booked Little Alex by mistake, and when we asked him what he’d rather do, he chose family over your son, well that seems pretty rude too. The interviews with the other parents rubbed me the wrong way, because they seem genuinely clueless that they did anything wrong.

    • Jewel January 21, 2015, 10:12 am

      Agreed. No apology, just excuses.

    • Library Diva January 21, 2015, 10:25 am

      I know what you mean. The other mom seems like one of those people whose idea of reaching a compromise is to just keep talking louder. “Something better came up! Why are you taking this so personally? We didn’t mean to offend you, so we must not have done so!”

      They reminded me of the mother who submitted a story several years ago, about her own son’s birthday party. He had gotten a gift that she wished to return, and asked the gift-giver’s mother for the receipt in front of everyone. She was stunned that the other woman called her out for being rude and actually asked “What’s wrong with letting someone know their gift was appreciated, but not liked?”

    • Anonymous January 21, 2015, 2:02 pm

      Devil’s advocate, and I don’t agree with this, but maybe Alex’s parents goaded him into choosing the grandparents’ visit/day trip over the birthday party, because “family comes first,” so in their mind, it would have been rude to the grandparents to go to the birthday party

  • Raven January 21, 2015, 9:05 am

    What I don’t get is why the no-show parents didn’t notify the party parents via the school. It’s not an ideal solution, but if you’ve misplaced the invitation with the contact information, send the child to school with a note pinned to their jacket, or call the school and leave a message for the teacher. Yes it’s inconvenient, but better than just saying, “I’m really unorganized. Oh well.”

    Or, could they not have phoned a classmate? They wouldn’t have had to saying anything about the party. Just, “I need to get in touch with this child’s parents. Do you have their phone number? Or can you ask them to call me?”

    No-show parents are lazy, in my opinion. They could have done more to have prevented this situation.

    While I don’t think the invoice is at all appropriate, I understand the sentiment. People rsvping yes and then not showing up is frustrating, rude, and expensive. I don’t mind spending the time and money to put together a lovely event for friends. To me, that is money and time well spent! But if they don’t come, it’s not well spent. It’s sad. I see so much of this now, and it really irritates me. Were people always this irresponsible, or is it a new thing?

  • Raven January 21, 2015, 9:13 am

    Also, $25 per head seems crazy for a kid’s party. Do kids not have birthday parties at home anymore, with games and pizza? (Am I showing my age?)

    • Goldie January 21, 2015, 2:48 pm

      No, you’re not. My kids are fairly young still (21 and 19) I never paid $25 per head for a kid’s party.

      Also, as soon as we bought a good sized house and as soon as I thought I felt confident that I’d handle a crowd of young boys, we started having birthday parties at home, with games, cake, and pizza. It’s more fun. And if someone doesn’t show, all that happens to you as a host is you have one extra goodie bag.

    • Amanda H. January 21, 2015, 4:44 pm

      My kids have all their parties at home (or in the park adjacent to our apartment complex) unless it’s a milestone (in our family this would be ages 8 and 16, with possible other ones depending on life events). And my kids are currently 8 and under.

      But there do seem to be a lot of invites to party places rather than homes of late, I’ll admit.

  • B January 21, 2015, 10:26 am

    I’d like to add that I refuse to believe the Nashes did not know how to contact this mother or know how to find her.

    It’s a primary school in the West Country.

  • Christina January 21, 2015, 10:41 am

    I don’t understand why the family who no showed is so in the wrong. So many people keep saying they should have honored their commitment and attended the party, but the father has said that they also has plans with the grandparents that he overlooked. He didn’t say they made new plans at the last minute. Why should it be acceptable to blow off the grandparents for the birthday party?

    Yes, it was rude to give no notice whatsoever. But it was originally a verbal invite given to a six year old, then an invitation given to a six year old. Six year olds lose things. like the admin said, just don’t invite him next year if it matters so much to you. But sending the invoice was petty and probably ruined any friendship these boys would have grown up having. Had she just let it go, or handled it normally by talking to the ADULTS about her disappointment, this wouldn’t be an issue. Instead she used a child to act like a child herself. Going into another child’s bookbag and sending a formal invoice to the parents was pathetic. If she was a real adult, she would have called the parents herself. Maybe if she called them and said how sorry he was he couldn’t make it and explained things, his parents would have even offered to cover his cost without being forced. But we will never know because she il immediately took it too far.

    • Abby January 21, 2015, 3:23 pm

      It wasn’t just a verbal invite to a six year old. The hostess mom walked up to the father 48 hours prior to the event and said, you’re still coming right? To which the father replied that he was.

      There appears to be some conflicting details within the story. If the parents did not realize their error until the day of the events, then yes, someone was getting cancelled on at the last minute which is not ideal. In that case, you could argue that they should have sent the boy to the party and explained to the grandparents the situation, because they obviously have the grandparents’ number. If you want to argue that cancelling on the grandparents at the last minute would be crueler than cancelling on another child, fine, but take every measure to apologize for the incident to the party hosts.

      Personally, the dad may have been offended to get the bill, but I think he should have just rolled his eyes, made a mental note to not engage with the hostess mom anymore, and coughed up the money. He committed the first etiquette blunder. (This is not to say I think the mom was correct to send the invoice. She wasn’t. But I think the correct response should have been for the dad to pay it, not complain to the media, and let hostess mom be the bad guy. These two are just escalating the etiquette blunders at this point).

      Also, it was noted that this is not the first time that kid has missed an event that he RSVP’d yes to. Sounds like the parents are disorganized and thoughtless as a rule.

      • ergala January 22, 2015, 7:41 am

        I personally think the invoice was a bully tactic. I would not have paid it but I wouldn’t have gone to the media either. I would have held onto it and waited to see if she actually did take me to SCC where she would get a proverbial spanking from the residing judge for being so petty.

    • Amanda H. January 21, 2015, 4:40 pm

      I saw conflicting information from Alex’s parents. Apparently his father claims that the plans with the grandparents were made before the birthday RSVP and he simply overlooked them, but Alex’s mother said in one article that she didn’t know about the obligation to the grandparents until the day of the party.

      If they really *did* know a few days in advance about the double booking, they could have made more effort to rectify the situation. People have pointed out that even on the day of, they could have made more effort (by contacting the venue if nothing else; who sends their kid to a party without knowing where it’s going to be?).

      • Anonymous January 22, 2015, 9:38 am

        I’d be interested to know what the plans with the grandparents were, how far away the grandparents lived, how frequent or infrequent the visits/outings were, and most importantly, if the plans with the grandparents that day were to attend another ticketed event……but then, if it was a ticketed event, wouldn’t they remember, and wouldn’t Alex be excited about, say, getting to see Disney’s Movie-Length Toy Commercial On Ice with Grandma and Grandpa? Anyway, it’d be a bit more understandable if it was something like that, but it sounds as if they were blowing off the TICKETED party at the ski resort, for a free-form hang-out day (like maybe a picnic in the park) with the grandparents, that they could do anytime. That’s what seems the rudest; that it was probably possible to re-arrange things so that Alex could do both, but the parents didn’t bother.

        • ergala January 23, 2015, 8:40 am

          Okay I am confused. It’s rude to not honor your first commitment (his grandparents) but it’s also rude to not attend a ticketed event you said you would go to when the first event slipped your mind. Isn’t that a kind of “Damned if you do damned if you don’t” situation? It comes off as no matter what the kiddo did he would be considered rude.

          • Anonymous January 25, 2015, 12:14 am

            No, I was just wondering if the “grandparents’ outing” was a free-form event that could have been rescheduled, or a ticketed event that couldn’t. If it was a ticketed (or at least scheduled, time-specific) event, then presumably, the Nash family would have remembered, and RSVP’ed “no” to the birthday party, but since they forgot, I have a feeling that it was just a “free-form, hang out day” kind of outing, that could have been done anytime, or adjusted to fit around the birthday party.

  • ss January 21, 2015, 11:30 am

    Here is an alternate scenario. I invite my friend to go to a concert with me. I confirm again just before the concert that he is still going to go. I purchase the tickets for the two of us. I end up waiting at the concert for my friend but he never shows up or contacts me. Should I expect him to reimburse me for the ticket I was left holding?

    • Dee January 21, 2015, 2:52 pm

      If you invited your friend then you’ve agreed to the total cost in any event. That your friend treated you rudely is a friendship issue, as in, if he offers sincere apologies and to pay for the ticket AND if his behaviour shows his sincerity then all should be forgiven. But if not …

    • Anonymous January 22, 2015, 9:49 am

      Barring a legitimate emergency, I’d say yes, if you missed part or all of the concert waiting for him. The rest is a friendship issue, as Dee said, but the fact is, if you planned (and paid money) to go to a concert with Fred, and ended up missing the concert (in whole or in part) waiting outside the venue for Fred, because he said he was coming, but didn’t, then his thoughtlessness just ruined your evening. If the concert was a once-in-a-blue-moon event, then I can even see ending the friendship over it. If not, it’s slightly less horrible, but I’d still be angry; not just for the wasted money, but for the wasted time, and the lack of communication. Whether or not there’s money involved, lack of follow-through, or inability to be somewhere at the appointed time, for no good reason, is a clear sign that the other person doesn’t care about you, or the friendship.

  • Margaret January 21, 2015, 11:58 am

    A few people have mentioned in the comments that the no show mom said she would have paid if she’d been asked in another way. . . . No. She would not have paid. If birthday mom had asked for the money in person, she would have been told that it was rude to ask and she should have slipped them a discreet invoice. I’ve had to collect legitimate fees from people and there are one or two who always have an excuse — You should have told me yesterday because I spent my money; You have to wait until tomorrow when I get paid; I’ll bring it in person when I see you at practice; Why are you asking me now — I don’t have any money on me . . . I don’t believe there is any possible way that the birthday mom could have mentioned or asked for the fee for the no show kid where the no show mom would have been willing to cover the cost. It really annoys me when people won’t do something, but the reason is never “I’m an irresponsible jackass” but rather “I would have been perfectly willing to do so, but it’s your fault I won’t because you asked the wrong way.”

    And BTW I don’t think the bday mom should have sent the invoice or expected to be paid for the unused spot. I just think the no show mom is being disingenuous when she says that she would have covered it if the birthday mom had asked for it in any way other than the one in which she did. And count me amongst the ones who would never invite the no-show kid again.

    • Abby January 21, 2015, 3:27 pm

      I totally agree! If I owe someone money, and they ask for it in a very rude way, I’m not going to decide I don’t owe them money anymore (just for an example). Same principle here- if Alex’s mom feels she should have paid up for the spot (and I agree she should have, her mistake incurred a fee that could have been avoided), then that doesn’t change, regardless of how inappropriate the other mom is being. It would have been gracious for Alex’s parents to seek out the other mother, apologize profusely, and offer to pay any fees for Alex. It then would have been gracious for Hostess Mom to accept the apology and decline the payment. Obviously, no one is going to accuse any of these adults of being gracious.

  • Justine January 21, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Even with the update (and thanks for that link) I still agree that if this boy is a no-show (and now the mom claims this boy has done it twice) no more invitations for him. And even if mom of no-show lost the invitation with the phone number, why didn’t she or dad find the mom at school the FIRST day back and apologize? This invoice wasn’t put in his back pack until the 15th.

  • Barbarian January 21, 2015, 1:13 pm

    Both sides were in the wrong, especially to generate such a frenzy of publicity that will only reflect badly upon everyone. The only good I see coming from this story is that hopefully its readers will learn about the courtesy of giving an RSVP and updating the host if something comes up later and they cannot attend. I think the whole incident came up because too many people are unaware of the etiquette involved in issuing invitations and replying to them.

    • Cathy January 21, 2015, 3:31 pm

      I agree that there’s fault on both sides. If I were the hosts, I would only have invited very close friends and relatives to this type of party. If it’s very expensive, it’s better to know the people you’re inviting pretty well. That way it’s less likely they’ll bail. Having given many birthday parties in the past I know only too well how flaky people can be. I would never give a party for a young child where you had to pay in advance and then get stuck with the bill for no-shows.

      The prospective guest’s parents were wrong to RSVP “yes” and then bail. That’s never OK and it certainly does send the wrong message to the child. Also, I would not give a very young child a choice in the matter, I would just keep to the original plan. Kids don’t know any better, parents should. And the parents could have made plans with the grandparents another time.

  • Green123 January 22, 2015, 4:02 am

    All this over fifteen pounds. Utterly preposterous.

  • hakayama January 22, 2015, 10:03 am

    I watched only a part of the video because I was utterly disgusted with the father discussing the issue with his son present. What ever happened to the principle of not letting children be present during arguments among/between adults? Or discussing adult matters?
    Also, was it really the little boy that made the choice in activities of the day?
    In the truly “olden” days, the guideline for numbers of child guests at a b-day party used to be the age of the b-day child. The first ones not counting, of course. So I was quite surprised at “ratios” named by the commenters: 20 for a 7th? Quite something for the honoree to take in…

    • Amanda H. January 22, 2015, 2:56 pm

      I think even your “olden days” guidelines depend on region and family circumstances and the like. I grew up in the Northeast (US) and don’t recall ever having any age-based limits on how many guests came to my parties, nor have I heard that from anyone around the area I currently live. I do know that frequently these days, party size can be partially dictated by the school district if they have a policy of not handing out event invitations to classmates unless there’s an invite for every classmate (or it’s done outside school). I think my kids’ current school actually has such a policy that children shouldn’t be handing out invitations in school unless they have an invitation for everyone in their class, which can easily lead to having 20 guests at a 7th birthday party. Some of it might also depend on venue. If a venue has a minimum headcount, or if it’s just as much money to reserve the party room for 20 as it is for 10 or fewer, some people may just go with it.

      • Anonymous January 23, 2015, 7:48 am

        Does the policy for handing out invitations at school stipulate “invite everyone,” or just “invite everyone, OR all of one gender?” After all, there are times when a boy will want an all-boys party, or a girl will want an all-girls party, and they’ll pick an activity that the other gender wouldn’t likely enjoy, like, say, a football party for boys, or a makeover party for girls.

        • Amanda H. January 24, 2015, 12:55 am

          As far as I’m aware, invites handed out at school must go to everyone in the class, regardless of gender. Which is why if you only want to invite a few you have to do it via mail, e-mail, phone, etc.

          • Anonymous January 25, 2015, 7:09 pm

            That’s a bit much, because then the school is essentially saying, “All birthday parties must be gender-neutral.” Yes, you can still invite boys to a princess party (and come up with some parallel “prince” activities), or girls to a superhero party (and include female superheroes in the mix), but it’d still change the dynamic. Yes, you can theoretically contact people outside of school, but most schools don’t publish phone trees/contact lists for the class, because of privacy concerns, and the K-1 set (5-6 year-olds, so, peak birthday party age) can’t usually accurately relay their friends’ phone numbers or e-mail addresses to their parents. So, this is probably at least part of the reason for the seemingly endless parade of generic Chuck E. Cheese/Bounce U/ice skating/swimming/bowling parties, because the majority of these “venue” type parties appeal to both boys and girls. A lot of adults complain about taking their kids to essentially the same party multiple times, but for a different birthday kid each time, but really, when you take the “must invite everyone” edict, and add a limited budget, and a need for a gender-neutral activity, plus the fact that few people have the space in their homes to host 30 kids, and winter birthdays make park parties impossible, the range of options gets limited.

            Another thing–what do you tell an introverted child who wants a “friend party,” but with just a small group of friends, when you don’t know these friends well enough to contact their parents outside of school? I don’t think it’s necessarily exclusionary to have a birthday party like that–there are a lot of non-rude reasons for it, like “Kiddo really wanted a sleepover,” or “A whole-class birthday party would overwhelm my child,” or “I can’t afford a venue party, and my house is too small to fit everyone,” or even, let’s face it, “Billy is a bully, and I’m not going to let him ruin Kiddo’s birthday.” Besides, if these kids are invited to every birthday party from grades K-8 (or however long elementary school lasts), isn’t it even harder on them when they get to middle or high school, RIGHT around the lovely, hormonal time of adolescent self-loathing, and the “must invite everyone” rule is no more? Also, kids are clever. Even if the school set a “must invite the whole class if distributing invitations at school” rule, that doesn’t stop the Queen Bee from following the letter of the law, but acting extra vile during the run-up to the party, towards her classmates whom she doesn’t really want to come, or scheming with the whole class to fake stomach aches on the morning of Unpopular Uma’s party, so nobody is there and her birthday is ruined. It’s far better just to teach kids manners, like “don’t talk about parties around those who aren’t invited,” and “not everyone will be invited to every party,” and “it’s polite to reciprocate hospitality,” than to invent policies that are designed to prevent all possibility of hurting anyone’s feelings.

          • Michelle January 26, 2015, 11:05 am

            This reply is actually for @Anonymous but I had to put it here because there is no reply button below her entry. I agree it’s ridiculous that there is a must-invite-everyone rule for birthday party invites, but it’s a rule you can’t get around, unless you get creative. When my son had a party, I made up the invites and then during pick-up/carpool line, gave them directly to the parents. All children do not get along and having to invite everyone in the class (such as a bully) does put a damper on the fun.

            I’m sure the school has to have rules for the parents that would throw a tantrum if little Billy did not get invited. Sadly, people have learned if they throw a fit long enough, loud enough and hard enough, most people/companies will give in just to avoid a scene or to avoid getting a bad review (online or by word-of-mouth). It also gives children the impression that if you don’t get what you want, throw a fit and you will.

          • Mary January 26, 2015, 3:41 pm

            Our area if invites are handed out at school it’s everyone of the same gender. No one invites everyone in the class. 20 kids is a lot for a party.

          • Anonymous January 27, 2015, 3:23 pm

            @Amanda H.–Your kids’ school’s rule makes things easier, but it still precludes a small-but-coed party, for kids who have both boys and girls as friends, but don’t want to invite the whole class, for whatever reason. Also, what if someone wants to invite someone from OUTSIDE their class to their party? When I was in school, there was often more than one class for each grade, and when I was in grade three, my best-friend-since-kindergarten was placed in a different class from mine. If someone was in the same boat, at a “must invite the whole class” school, would they also have to invite the entire other class that their friend is in? I can see this getting out of hand REALLY fast, especially if the rule exists at kids’ extra-curricular activities as well–you could end up having to invite the whole class at school, the friend’s class, the soccer team, AND the Scout troop, for example. I like the “give out invitations at pick-up” solution, but even that isn’t perfect, if some of the child’s friends take the bus home, or walk by themselves. You CAN hand an invitation directly to a child, but for a five-or-six-year-old, it might not make it home to their parents.

  • Creativecat January 22, 2015, 12:02 pm

    While I feel that there is more to the story, I also wonder if there are some cultural norms at play here as well. This particular incident happened in England. The way things are done there regarding parties aren’t necessarily the same as the US. I agree that both people are at fault. But, the hostess should never have invoiced. I think if you plan a party, you have to go into it knowing there will be some and eat the cost.

    • mechtilde January 22, 2015, 2:51 pm

      The way it should go seems to be pretty much the same in both countries, as far as I can see.

      How it should happen in England is that invitations are sent, parents RSVP in the form indicated (this could be anything from a tear off strip of paper at the bottom of the invitation to an email address to verbally) by the date indicated. The host knows how many children will turn up and can cater and prepare loot bags accordingly, or give the party venue final numbers- parties at soft play centres, activity centres and similar are becoming increasing popular. They are pretty pricey and £15 per head is expensive but not altogether surprising.

      The children whose parents have RSVP’d then turn up to the venue on time, with a modest gift.

      Sigh- if only that actually happened in real life…

  • just4kicks January 22, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I was just now watching a recording of “The Talk” from earlier in the week, and they were talking about this very situation.
    The thing that really got me is, according to their source, the boy in the story is now being shunned and bullied by the other kids in his class, which is SO sad, because well, he’s FIVE, and probably has no idea why his little friends are being mean to him. Poor kid.

  • PlymSki January 22, 2015, 5:40 pm

    I would like to add to this story that the Hostess Mother was in fact offered credit to use at the centre when a no show attended. The meal was already ordered and so this was still sent out with the adults being allowed to eat the meal as it was a spare meal.

    As for the activity, a certain number of people were confirmed would be attending the party and so a certain number of ‘Sno-Tubes’ were allocated to the party. As there was a no show the extra space was opened up to the adults so they could use the spare ‘Sno-tube’ between them to have a go themselves.

    How do I know this? I work at the centre in question and this is what happens every time. No shows are unfortunately very common, as is such with anywhere that holds parties.

    The hostess claims she ‘lost out’. She didn’t. She was offered an alternative.

    And to those that have complained to the centre in question trying to blame this on us? I thank you very much. Read the story. It’s nothing to do with us.

    • Goldie January 23, 2015, 9:40 am

      Wow this is good input, thanks for posting.

      I went to one snow-tubing party where the hosts bought enough tickets for the kids and their parents, and encouraged the parents to stay and go snow-tubing (this was a family we were friends with). It was SO much fun! The hostess should’ve tried it too. Perhaps it would’ve made her feel better 😉

  • Enna January 29, 2015, 12:25 pm

    This highlights the imporatnce of proper written invitations with RSVP details. Alex’s parents should have taken him to the birthday party, the invoice was wrong – both sides could have behaved better. The school might not be able to give out details of one pupil’s family to another but they could pass on a message. E.g. if Alex’s dad conatcted the school and said “please could you help me, I’ve made a mistake and said my son would go to so and so’s party – could you pass on my mobie number to them.”

  • Yertle Turtle January 30, 2015, 9:44 am

    I think the invoice is mean-spirited and unnecessary, but also find the invitee’s parents really rude. They should have explained to their child that he would have to see the grandparents another time as he had already RSVPed and they couldn’t contact the birthday child’s parents.
    I once forgot to take my child along to a party – I just got busy and completely forgot to take him. As soon as I realised I phoned the birthday child’s parents to apologise. They were very gracious and declined my offer to pay for the cost of the planned activity, but I felt awful and of course my child was disappointed to have missed out. I decided to invite the birthday child to come for a special outing with my son the next weekend. They had a brilliant time and I felt that it as a good way to show my child that we can try to make things better when we have messed up.