Author Topic: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette  (Read 5274 times)

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Bexx27

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(More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« on: April 23, 2013, 12:50:09 PM »
Birthday parties are a Very Big Deal in my DD's preschool class this year. Her class has 18 kids, half of whom (including my DD) have been together in the center since the infant room, and half of whom started there last fall.

On Saturday DD attended her best friend Christa's 4th birthday party. It was held at Christa's home and was visited by a "Bear Bus" in which each child made a stuffed animal. (Everything was covered by the hosts and parents didn't have to pay for upgrades or extras.) The party itself was great, but I'm wondering about the etiquette of the invitations.

This was the first of DD's classmates' birthday parties I've seen in which the entire class wasn't invited. Christa's parents invited all of the kids who've been at the center for multiple years, but out of the "new" kids only the girls were invited. So 14 of the 18 kids were invited. (I know this because it was done by evite.) I assume they chose to limit the numbers because of the Bear Bus (space and/or cost). However, it made things awkward.

Birthday parties are the highlights of the kids' lives right now and an upcoming party is the main topic of discussion in class as soon as the invitations go out. Those 4 uninvited little boys are very aware of the party and that they were excluded. One of them, Sean, is very good friends with DD and we could not get her to understand that she shouldn't talk to him about the party or ask him why he didn't come. I felt really bad for him.

Obviously parents can invite whomever they want to their child's party, and I realize little Sean won't be traumatized for life. I know limiting the guest list is an etiquette-approved way to "host the party you can afford" without passing on costs to the guests. It just seems iffy to me to invite more than half of a preschool class without inviting everyone. What do you all think?
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

*inviteseller

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 01:37:43 PM »
I have a 17 yr old and 6 yr old DD, so I feel the better part of my adult years have been spent at kids parties!  The way the invites go around here is, if they are sending the invites to school they either invite all the boys, all the girls or the whole class.  But there was one mom who somehow snuck the invites out at school and invited the whole class except for 3 kids (and it was obvious why she did it)*.   It hurt because they knew, and other kids started asking why they weren't invited (the kids all loved each other) and it caused some real hard feelings.  People are allowed to invite who they want, but when you exclude just a few, it is obvious there is going to be some reprecussions as far as friendships and feelings.   


*I had rsvp'd yes until I found out what she had done and I called back and said something came up and my DD could not make it.  I wish I would have stood up to her and said how I really felt but I wimped.

NyaChan

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 01:41:59 PM »
I have a 17 yr old and 6 yr old DD, so I feel the better part of my adult years have been spent at kids parties!  The way the invites go around here is, if they are sending the invites to school they either invite all the boys, all the girls or the whole class.  But there was one mom who somehow snuck the invites out at school and invited the whole class except for 3 kids (and it was obvious why she did it)*.   It hurt because they knew, and other kids started asking why they weren't invited (the kids all loved each other) and it caused some real hard feelings.  People are allowed to invite who they want, but when you exclude just a few, it is obvious there is going to be some reprecussions as far as friendships and feelings.   


*I had rsvp'd yes until I found out what she had done and I called back and said something came up and my DD could not make it.  I wish I would have stood up to her and said how I really felt but I wimped.

May I ask why it was? 

kansha

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 01:54:50 PM »
given the 'obvious' part of the post, i'd guess race/ethnicity  :-\

Hmmmmm

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2013, 02:23:51 PM »
When my kids were little, I felt like you that if majority of the kids were invited then all of them were invited.

Now as teens approaching adulthood and having watched the interactions they've had through highschool, I think it might have been a disservice to set up the kid's with that type of expectations.  That everyone is always welcome and included.

While a hard thing to hear at 4, I don't think it's wrong of a mom or dad to tell their son "Joey, I'm sorry you weren't included in the party. It seems that birthday girl doesn't see you as close of a friend as others. Let's bake our own cake that afternoon and invite the other boys over for a "just because" party."

My DD is a senior. There are a zillion and 1 graduation parties, usually joint hosted by 5 to 10 graduate's parents. One of DDs friends told me that her and the group of girls who were co-hosting her party had made sure to send out their invitations early so that they would get invites to all the rest and now they are upset that they've only received invites to less than half.

I wonder if we'd still be having these conversations if there had been less "everyone is invited" parties when they were young.

*inviteseller

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 03:27:50 PM »
Yes, it was a racial thing for 2 children and the other child was autistic, but was a wonderful kid who was invited to all the other parties and was absolutely wonderful.  And as my older DD has grown up, the 'everyone has to be invited' thing is no longer important as everyone has their own groups and rarely does anyone feel that they have to go to everyone's parties.  But when they are little (my DD was 5 at the time of the above mentioned party), it is so glaring when a few are left off.  Up until my older DD was 12, it was always the whole class or all the girls but at 12 she picked who she wanted because by that time she was in middle school and changing classes so it wasn't the same kids in the same room all day everyday where it is more noticeable.  And yes, you can tell your child that little janie doesn't see you as a good friend, but what does that do to a kid when he is only one of two or three kids that weren't invited?  I think it is easier to be honest and say "I am not sure why you weren't invited, but we can just have a day together today." 

Eeep!

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 04:02:40 PM »
Birthday parties are a Very Big Deal in my DD's preschool class this year. Her class has 18 kids, half of whom (including my DD) have been together in the center since the infant room, and half of whom started there last fall.

On Saturday DD attended her best friend Christa's 4th birthday party. It was held at Christa's home and was visited by a "Bear Bus" in which each child made a stuffed animal. (Everything was covered by the hosts and parents didn't have to pay for upgrades or extras.) The party itself was great, but I'm wondering about the etiquette of the invitations.

This was the first of DD's classmates' birthday parties I've seen in which the entire class wasn't invited. Christa's parents invited all of the kids who've been at the center for multiple years, but out of the "new" kids only the girls were invited. So 14 of the 18 kids were invited. (I know this because it was done by evite.) I assume they chose to limit the numbers because of the Bear Bus (space and/or cost). However, it made things awkward.

Birthday parties are the highlights of the kids' lives right now and an upcoming party is the main topic of discussion in class as soon as the invitations go out. Those 4 uninvited little boys are very aware of the party and that they were excluded. One of them, Sean, is very good friends with DD and we could not get her to understand that she shouldn't talk to him about the party or ask him why he didn't come. I felt really bad for him.

Obviously parents can invite whomever they want to their child's party, and I realize little Sean won't be traumatized for life. I know limiting the guest list is an etiquette-approved way to "host the party you can afford" without passing on costs to the guests. It just seems iffy to me to invite more than half of a preschool class without inviting everyone. What do you all think?

I personally think this was a serious miss-step on the part of the parents giving the party.  4 out of 18 is a really small percentage to exclude.  If they needed to limit it then I think they should have done it by just girls or some easily explained reason.  Those poor little boys! (And yes I realize that they can learn valuable lessons, etc. etc. I still feel bad for them.)
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

Jovismom

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2013, 04:08:27 PM »
I'll admit up front that I'm over 50 and I've not had children so my opinion is coming from that perspective. 

I personally think its ridiculous to require the entire class or all the boys or all the girls be invited to any birthday party.  The same way I think it was ridiculous when the "everyone must win a trophy/no one ever loses" was going on.  My personal belief is that things like that teach kids to feel entitled and then, when things don't work that way in the real world, and they don't, it hits them so much harder than if they'd grown up realizing they don't go to every party and there are winners and losers when you play a game.  (Not that winning/losing should be stressed.  It should be acknowledged but doing your personal best is what should be stressed.)

The one exception to that would be a situation like the OP posted.  It would be very hurtful to invite almost the entire class and leave out just 3-4 kids.  No, if you're going to invite so many classmates then, in that particular instance, the whole class should have been invited.   Either that or cut the invitations back so that it's not just a few who weren't invited.

Lynn2000

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2013, 04:59:16 PM »
I'll admit up front that I'm over 50 and I've not had children so my opinion is coming from that perspective. 

I personally think its ridiculous to require the entire class or all the boys or all the girls be invited to any birthday party.  The same way I think it was ridiculous when the "everyone must win a trophy/no one ever loses" was going on.  My personal belief is that things like that teach kids to feel entitled and then, when things don't work that way in the real world, and they don't, it hits them so much harder than if they'd grown up realizing they don't go to every party and there are winners and losers when you play a game.  (Not that winning/losing should be stressed.  It should be acknowledged but doing your personal best is what should be stressed.)

The one exception to that would be a situation like the OP posted.  It would be very hurtful to invite almost the entire class and leave out just 3-4 kids.  No, if you're going to invite so many classmates then, in that particular instance, the whole class should have been invited.   Either that or cut the invitations back so that it's not just a few who weren't invited.

This is kind of where I fall. I think the rule about inviting "everyone" in a class is strange. I understand if a school wants to make that rule for invitations that are distributed through the school; but when I was a kid I had small parties with kids I was close enough to, to know their home addresses and phone numbers so invitations could be sent directly to them. So it seems weird to me to have larger parties with kids who are all in a child's class, but not close enough to know their home addresses (or at least emails) so the only way to pass invitations on is through the school (and then you have to abide by the school's rules).

All that being said, I think it's sketchy to invite almost all, but not entirely all, of a group, as in the OP--especially such a sizable group (14 of 18) and one composed of young children who can't be counted on to really understand why they shouldn't talk about the party with the others. Either invite everyone, or invite only the five or six closest kids, would be my suggestion. I would probably go with the latter, personally; I find it hard to believe the birthday child is equally super-close to 13-14 of the kids, with a huge gulf separating them from the remaining 3-4.
~Lynn2000

artk2002

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2013, 05:19:51 PM »
In order to deal with the hurt feelings issue, my sons' school adopted a "natural division" rule. You didn't have to invite the whole class, but the division had to be something that didn't point to exclusion of a few people. All the girls or all the boys was fine. Everybody in the car pool was, too. What you couldn't do is invite everybody but one or two people. Of course, the school had no way of enforcing this, but I didn't hear of anyone going counter to that when the boys were small. This was a private school, so the families there had already committed to the school's philosophies; one of which is "you can't say you can't play."

The school has a vested interest in dealing with issues like this, although I know it feels intrusive for a lot of people. No child comes to school able to leave the outside world behind and being excluded can have a bad effect on the classroom.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

*inviteseller

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2013, 05:35:14 PM »
Again, POD Art (we seem to post at the same time!)  Our school has this is the beginning of the year paperwork for elementary only.  It makes it hard if you really don't want to invite that one kid who is annoying, but when you exclude one or two kids from a large group, it is noticeable and can cause the problems I saw with my DD's class (and btw, it did backfire on the mom because alot of the kids backed out of the party when it was found out).  Even if you send the invites to the kids homes, you have to be aware that it can cause hard feelings and issues in the room your child is in 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. 
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 07:53:19 PM by *inviteseller »

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2013, 06:13:49 PM »
When my niece was in the first grade, everyone in the class except her and two others were invited to a birthday party.  The exclusions were pretty obviously racially motivated. 

Niece was broken hearted.  Her mom told her, "Your birthday is coming up in two months.  We're going to have the greatest party ever, and we're going to invite everybody." 

I love my niece's mom.
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One Fish, Two Fish

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2013, 06:44:01 PM »
I'll admit up front that I'm over 50 and I've not had children so my opinion is coming from that perspective. 

I personally think its ridiculous to require the entire class or all the boys or all the girls be invited to any birthday party.  The same way I think it was ridiculous when the "everyone must win a trophy/no one ever loses" was going on.  My personal belief is that things like that teach kids to feel entitled and then, when things don't work that way in the real world, and they don't, it hits them so much harder than if they'd grown up realizing they don't go to every party and there are winners and losers when you play a game.  (Not that winning/losing should be stressed.  It should be acknowledged but doing your personal best is what should be stressed.)

The one exception to that would be a situation like the OP posted.  It would be very hurtful to invite almost the entire class and leave out just 3-4 kids.  No, if you're going to invite so many classmates then, in that particular instance, the whole class should have been invited.   Either that or cut the invitations back so that it's not just a few who weren't invited.
I can get behind this, but I don't think the invitations should be passed out at school.  That's hurtful.
I'll get there.  Eventually.

*inviteseller

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2013, 08:03:44 PM »
CrazyDaffodilLady...you wouldn't happen to live in Pittsburgh PA perhaps?  It makes my head hurt that that two of us have seen that happen.

blarg314

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Re: (More) Child Birthday Party Etiquette
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2013, 08:45:05 PM »

I do think the rules about having to invite the whole class, or all the girls, are silly - not all the parents want to host a party of 20+ kids, or are able to. And, in a large class, the sheer number of parties to attend can get silly - a class of 24 kids will be a birthday party every two weeks, on average.

That said, in general, inviting almost everyone from a well defined group to a party is not a good idea, for kids or adults. If you are inviting 50% or less from a group to a party, you're generally okay. On the other extreme, inviting all but one person from a group is very hurtful - it says "I like everyone in this group well enough to invite to my party.  Except you. Nyah nyah." That works for an pre-school class, a Guide troupe, or if you're inviting all but one of your coworkers to your wedding.

For kids it's more extreme, because, as the OP said, explaining to a four year old that you can't talk about the party in front of people who weren't invited is a very difficult concept to get across. So the few kids who aren't invited are going to have their noses rubbed in it.

There are some exceptions. I see no need to invite someone who is bullying you, or has been aggressively nasty to you in the past, no matter what the age, for example.