A family member of mine has taken to making her children's birthday parties start at 6:30 pm without food, except cake. It is written upfront in her email though, but it's still a huge pain. If it's on a weeknight there is no way we are making it because our children had school that day and eating at 5 makes them hungry again around 8 or 9. They are used to having just a snack after school to get them to between 6 and 7 when dinner is usually served at our house, because their father arrives home at that time.
We also live 45 minutes away so it really makes it logistically hard. And I work in one place, DH works in the city it is held and the kids go to school in between, so that's a lot of driving and waiting should we go. We have to kill time somewhere and don't like doubling back home to go back to the city only 30 minutes later, and not to mention we end up spending more eating out than they spend on hosting the birthday party for their child
This family member has made a habit out of it to our realization so we have started declining, I feel bad for the kids because they don't seem to have birthday parties with their peers, just this family one, but it just screws up our entire family's schedule and costs us money that we just don't want to budget in.
With that said, my family member isn't the first I've noticed doing this type of thing lately. I really hope this isn't turning into some trend because I have also read about it on money saving websites "just have cake!". Although I'm pretty sure the advice is meant for the reader to take in consideration the time of day they are planning to just have cake.