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Author Topic: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)  (Read 1012 times)

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How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« on: September 13, 2016, 08:32:54 PM »
Posting this in Coffee Break because nobody was rude, and I'm not looking for validation. Just wondering how others might have interpreted things.

BG: A group I belong to rents out a wilderness camp over Labor Day weekend. It used to be a kids camp run by a nonprofit, but now it's privately owned. The owners are a woman who went to the camp as a child, and her partner. They host retreats and things there, and rent it out for weddings and events like ours.

The raison d'etre for our group is participatory music making, so a lot of that goes on during this campout. People stay in tents, campers, RVs, and some day-trip.

Our campout is "members only," but that means it's not open to the general public. We have members, friends of members, friends of friends, relatives of members, friends of relatives ... . There's usually about 100 people, ranging in age from infants to 80-somethings. End BG.

One of our members, "Jane," has a milestone birthday this month. She decided to throw a celebration during Weekend Campout. (Let's not get into the issue of whether it's rude for an adult to throw her own birthday party. In my circle, it's fairly common and usually takes the form of "Come celebrate with me," not "Come celebrate meeee [and give me stuff]!") Her theme was "it's never too late to have a happy childhood."

This is the email she sent out in advance of the weekend (some details altered):

I知 hitting the Big Seven-Oh shortly after Weekend Campout, so DH and I are celebrating at our camp site all day Sunday, September 4th.  There値l be cupcakes, coffee, and cider all day, and ice cream from around noon until it's eaten or melted.  Feel free to bring munchies to share and we値l make a pot-luck.

I have pick-up-stix, dominos, bubble makers, chalk and crayons, and lots of other entertainments from our childhoods.  We値l also have a costume box and props for those who want silly photos, and we値l welcome any Halloween, Easter, St. Pat痴 or other costume material you壇 care to lend us for the day.  Bring your camera!  (And please be sure to label anything you lend us which you would like returned!)
I知 working to develop songbooks of Broadway melodies, and (Band Made Up of Weekend Campout Attendees) has loaned me their sing-along book. I知 hoping people will also bring multiple copies of any favorite songs of the period. (Band) has promised an appearance. I知 hoping folks鼠l bring (Various Songbooks), kazoos, red noses, rubber chickens, coloring books, balloons. You get the idea.

Please stop by to sign my memento (Item).
Come by any-time all weekend and be child-like with me!

My first thought was, "Does Jane (who is childless) realize her campsite is going to be overrun with everyone else's kids all day? Does she know what she's getting herself into?" My second thought was, "Sounds like fun!"

I needn't have worried about the former. The party as it played out was very strictly scheduled: Now we do dress-up. Now we have music. Now we have cake and ice cream. Now we blow bubbles down by the swimming hole. I can see scheduling the band and the cake, but I had been looking forward to an afternoon of free-form play. I even contributed my favorite board game to the festivities, but "game time" never happened. Also, I was committed to another activity at a nearby campsite during designated dress-up time, so I got to watch but not really participate.

I feel like a total boor for being disappointed that Jane's loving gift of childlike fun to her friends was not what I had expected. I wonder if she decided to structure it as she did after realizing she would be overrun with kids otherwise. Bagman had a different take: This is the way Jane operates. To call her a control freak is kind of harsh -- let's just say she's not a "go with the flow" kind of person.

Bagman is the only person I expressed my disappointment to. I did not, and never will, say anything to Jane.

Again, I don't want validation for my disappointment. I'm just wondering if I misinterpreted the invitation.

BTW, I actually love the idea of a "happy childhood" party and may steal the idea if and when Bagman and I throw a joint 70th/60th celebration in a couple of years. If so, though, ours will be much more free-form. Also indoors, since we are November/December babies.

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Harriet Jones

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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 08:54:29 PM »
Is it just that it was more structured than you thought it would be?


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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 09:45:52 PM »
It sounds like she had the party she wanted. I think it would have been fine for you to ask to borrow some of the games to have a game night at your campsite if that's what you missed out on.


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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2016, 09:48:54 PM »
I think I would have assumed there would be a lot less structure. And that things like bubble blowing would always be available; that playing board games would depend on who was there at the time you were.

Dress-up time I might have expected to be more structured, bcs it's more fun when it's everybody at once. But I'd have thought the props would be around all the time for selfie sessions.

I'm wondering if she ended up w/ more structure than she originally planned because she realized she might have chaos.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2016, 07:44:28 AM »
OCD CDO, everything must be scheduled me?  Would have interpreted that invitation very close to how you did.  I would have expected a lot more free play, too.

I also love the idea of a child's party for an adult milestone birthday.  Only with beer instead of kool-aid.   ;D  I turn 50 in a couple of years...
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2016, 10:46:10 AM »
I honestly wasn't thinking about how it would actually play out, i.e., scheduled or free form, till you asked that question. But then once you did ask the question, and I thought about it... it seems to me that scheduled makes the most sense. I mean, in terms of a real (young) child's birthday party, activities are going to be scheduled. You wouldn't invite 12 eight-year-olds over for a birthday party and then give them all the activities at once and say, "OK kids, go for it!"

So if she were trying to make this like a kid's birthday party, scheduled would make sense.

In any case, I think you had particular expectations which weren't met and you were disappointed. Perfectly understandable. Regardless of the details, this kind of thing happens all the time.


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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 12:29:05 PM »
As an adult, the only parties I attend that have any sort of schedule are baby and wedding showers. Birthday parties are usually much more freeform - there's food available the whole time and yard games and house games and people kind of mingle around and participate in whatever when it's available, so that's what I would generally expect with any adult party invitation.

Having read the initial invitation, I would have assumed dress up would happen as people arrived and they'd stay dressed up for as long as they were there/was practical, and then the other activities would happen simultaneously around the campsite, with people participating as they liked.

However, I can totally see how it wound up playing out the way it did, especially since the bubbles involved moving to a second location. Probably the B-day girl was doing the activities she wanted to do and everybody joined her, and then when she moved on to something else, a critical mass of people did the same and it left the whole event feeling very structured.
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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2016, 02:06:04 PM »
I would have expected this to be a more free-form event, with people playing board games whenever, dressing up when/as they chose to, etc., except for the music, which I think would have had to be more structured.


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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2016, 04:20:45 PM »
Based on the wording of the invitation and based on this being incorporated into a weekend of other goings-on,  I would have expected what the op expected : less structure,  more "open house" type of day. 

When you use phrases like "all day",  "stop by any time",  that doesn't exactly spell a very structured day. 

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Re: How would you interpret this birthday party invitation? (Longish)
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 05:49:42 PM »
I would've interpreted the invitation as indicative of the concept but expected it to resemble the usual party arrangement just bc it wouldn't make sense if kazoo blowing happened during band appearance, etc. Is it possible that the order of events followed a play it by ear format that was organic but still resembled structure? So long as the birthday host had fun and the party she wanted, then it sounds like a success.