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Author Topic: Siblings at kids' birthday parties  (Read 14055 times)

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anonymousmac

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Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« on: October 06, 2010, 09:10:53 AM »
We threw a birthday party for my daughter recently.  Everything went well, but I was really surprised at the number of people who brought siblings to the party.  In some cases, a parent did contact me ahead of time and very nicely asked if they could bring a baby sibling, and I told them they were welcome to.  But in at least three cases, the family just showed up to the party with a sibling several years older than the invitees, and just sent them on in to the party without even acknowledging the addition to me (not even "Oh, we brought OlderDaughter too, is that alright?")

We were lucky in this case that the party was in a playspace big enough for everyone, and that I had overplanned and brought plenty of extra cupcakes and party toys.  But if I had made party favor bags for each kid, or only brought enough cupcakes for the invitees, I would have felt awful.  And if the party had been in our small home, the extra people would have made the whole party far too crowded to function.

It turns out that the older siblings were really nice, and helped with the younger kids, so I felt like a grinch for having been grumpy about it.  But it's still true that had things been different, the unplanned-for extra siblings might have made the party really difficult.

Here are my questions:

(1) I'm still new at this parenting thing.  It does seem almost expected now, that it's normal that siblings are brought along at birthday parties.  Is that true?  Should I expect it to happen, as part of parenting culture these days, and just plan for it in the future?

(2) If I had chosen to make a fuss, or make a stand, how could I handle this in the future?  This is one of those situations where it's so easy to imagine just standing at the door with my hand up saying "That won't be possible!", but in real life it just feels wrong to treat a child badly for something that's not their fault.

What I'm looking for is a gentle way to let parents know that I'm surprised that they brought an uninvited guest, and that it's a bit of extra work for me to handle it, while still being welcoming and not actually turning them away.  I want to be a gracious hostess, without being a doormat.

Any suggestions?



CherryRipe

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2010, 09:23:34 AM »
Head it off at the pass by indicating that the invitation is only for the child whose name is written on it, because you have a limited number of party favours/spaces at the venue/whatever.

Yvaine

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2010, 09:32:13 AM »
Ugh, my parents did this. It stemmed from overprotectiveness. They wouldn't leave YoungerSib at the party alone even if there was adult supervision, and they wouldn't leave me at home alone either (I'm the oldest), and so if only one of my parents was available at the time of the party, they dragged me along. It was often awkward, both because I was old enough to realize I wasn't wanted and because the activities were planned for kids substantially younger than I (and so it got boring, but it would have been rude to read or something). Bleh. No words of wisdom, but just chiming in that this is annoying both from the host's perspective and from the tagalong's.

TychaBrahe

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2010, 09:34:11 AM »
I've recently seen invitations to children's parties that say "____ is invited" rather than "You are invited," most likely just for this purpose.
"Brownies and kindness for all!"  High Dudgeon

MindsEye

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2010, 09:35:06 AM »
I don't know how gracious it is (as I am torn myself) but what my cousin does is to let people know that there will be only enough cupcakes and goodie bags for invited children.  With the very heavy implication that 'extras' will get nothing.

I am not sure how she words things, but I can find out if you are curious...

I do know that she personalizes each invitation....  something like "(nephew's name) would love to have (friend's name) help him celebrate his birthday...(rest of invitation text)..."

That might also help.

ipsedixit

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 09:54:02 AM »
I agree that you should specify the child's name on the invitation.  I think, for younger kids, it's acceptable for a parent to accompany them, however, I have no idea why people think it's appropriate to bring along an uninvited guest, no matter the age.

MovieLover

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2010, 10:01:15 AM »
Head it off at the pass by indicating that the invitation is only for the child whose name is written on it, because you have a limited number of party favours/spaces at the venue/whatever.

POD.  You have to spell things out very plainly and simply for some of today's parents to *get it*.  If you don't do this, well you have already seen what happens.

anonymousmac

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 10:30:47 AM »
I agree that you should specify the child's name on the invitation.  I think, for younger kids, it's acceptable for a parent to accompany them, however, I have no idea why people think it's appropriate to bring along an uninvited guest, no matter the age.

I did actually write each child's name on the invitation:  "To Johnny".  In one case there were three siblings I wanted to invite, so I made three separate invitations, each with one child's name on it.  (That family just never RSVP'd and didn't come.)  It didn't seem to make any difference.

The children are 3 and 4 years old, so while I didn't write anything about it on the invites, I did expect parents were likely to stay for the party; that was fine.  The parents were very polite when they asked if there were any extra cupcakes, and I didn't feel bad if I didn't have enough party favors for all of them. :)

sweetgirl

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 10:35:47 AM »
They asked if there was any extra cupcakes for their uninvited children?  :o     


Spoder

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 10:56:10 AM »
When I read the original post, I assumed we were talking about older children being dropped off to the party with a younger sibling.

I think the fact that the invitees are 3- and 4-year-olds and therefore have a parent staying at the party with them, might be the problem. The parent may not have anyone else to leave the sibling/s with for the duration of the party. I know that when my friends have parties for kids up until about 6, they pretty much invite any other young children in the family, because they know that's what they're going to end up with anyway. (Also, kids that age tend to be less fussy about an all-in-together approach).

I'm not saying this is correct etiquette, just suggesting reasons why you may be running into a problem.

magician5

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 11:20:54 AM »
Parents and old-enough sibs should (IMO) be assigned to help.
There is no 'way to peace.' Peace is the way.

Sabbyfrog2

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 12:27:14 PM »
When I read the original post, I assumed we were talking about older children being dropped off to the party with a younger sibling.

I think the fact that the invitees are 3- and 4-year-olds and therefore have a parent staying at the party with them, might be the problem. The parent may not have anyone else to leave the sibling/s with for the duration of the party. I know that when my friends have parties for kids up until about 6, they pretty much invite any other young children in the family, because they know that's what they're going to end up with anyway. (Also, kids that age tend to be less fussy about an all-in-together approach).

I'm not saying this is correct etiquette, just suggesting reasons why you may be running into a problem.

Then instead of burdening the host with more guests than planned for, they should politely decline the party. I sympathize for all involved, especially the kids who miss the party, and the GOH kid who won't have their friend there, but it still doesn't make it okay. (I know you said that but I am using your post as a talking point.) Both kids will get over it, especially at that age. It is not okay to bring an uninvited guest to a party, no matter what age.

Maudie

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 03:29:53 PM »
I refused to be 'that' parent last weekend.

I had RSVPed yes to a party on Saturday at a place that features large numbers of jumpers on behalf of my 4-year-old. On Friday, DH called to tell me he had to work Saturday as his manager was ill with pneumonia. I immediately called the hostess and said "I know I had RSVPed 'yes" but I know have to decline on DD's behalf. DH now has to work Saturday so I will have DS with me. I am so sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you but I have to decline. I do not want to impose by leaving my daughter at the party unattended or attending with my son in tow."

I felt awful since I had already said yes but DS was not invited and it would not have been right for me to should up with an extra 3-year-old. So, the three of us went to another jumper place and had a great time.

p.s. I did try to get a sitter but both were unavailable.

LiveLoveLearn

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2010, 03:43:29 PM »
I always ask when I RSVP if siblings are welcome.  Because sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't.

I guess that doesn't help things from your end though.  I guess I would just either say "siblings welcome" or "due to limited [whatever], siblings cannot be accomodated".


couchpotato

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Re: Siblings at kids' birthday parties
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2010, 03:45:50 PM »
On the other hand, there are the parents who assume you will bring the sibling and are disappointed on party day when just the invited one showed up. This happened at Tater Tot's BFF's party in 2009, so the 2010 invitation specifically mentioned Small Fry's name.