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Thanks for Ruining My Kid's Birthday

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I invited my child's whole class to her birthday party ... but only three people showed up.

opening presents

Guest blogger Jamie: Saturday was my daughter's eighth birthday. It is school policy to invite every child, so I did so -- weeks ago. Four days before the party, not one kid had RSVP'd. I asked the teacher to make a reminder announcement. Two parents called to say their kid could make it, and four or five said their kids were a "maybe." Meanwhile, I had rented out two big tables at the local ice-skating rink weeks ago, and had pre-ordered tons of food and two sheet cakes. I was seriously wanting to cancel the party at this point, but I couldn't do that to my daughter. I figured if everyone showed up (including the "maybes"), there would be seven kids there. That would be okay, I told myself.

The day of the party arrived and we showed up to the rink. Fifteen minutes after the party was supposed to start, the first guest arrived. Those were the longest fifteen minutes of my life, watching my daughter become more and more nervous and I prayed that someone ... anyone would show up. The second straggled in ten minutes later. Twenty minutes after that, the third and last child arrived.

My daughter did manage to have a good time with the few kids who showed up, but it was beyond uncomfortable for the other parents there. Obviously, they felt sorry for us. And I don't blame them -- I felt sorry for us, too, especially my daughter. No, she is not the most popular person in class ... but is this any way to treat a child?

To the parents who didn't bother to show up or even RSVP "no" to my invitation, I have a message: Thanks a lot for ruining my kid's birthday. I hope you never have to go through this, because it hurts like hell.


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29 comments so far | Post a comment now
M November 2, 2008, 10:28 AM

I’ve had a few whole class birthday parties and it drives me crazy when people don’t RSVP, which is why I provide my home, cell #s, and my email address.

To all you RSVPers, thank you! I especially appreciate when someone calls me right away. Now I do the same, as soon as I pull an invite out of his backpack, I call right away.

Unfortunately some people are just rude.

If you don’t RSVP, please tell me why?
Are you really that busy that you can’t send an email? (OK - Perhaps you don’t own a computer, but you sure as heck own a phone,. Pen and paper does the trick too) Or did your parents NEVER teach you that RSVP is french for please let me know if your kid is coming because I’m about to spend lots of money (time and energy too) on making sure that both our children have a wonderful 2 hours together.

Next time I might include self addressed envelopes where the parent check off the yes or no box.

Why the deliberate rudeness?

Anonymous November 2, 2008, 12:05 PM

I’ve seen the same situation with adults where that happens. Invitees say they will come and then don’t show.

Anonymous November 2, 2008, 12:59 PM

School Policy????????I would never invite my kids whole classroom…..NEVER…..I my god I feel so sorry for you and your daughter:( Thats why I never throw big B-Day parties for my kids,just god I have kids who understand that.

Anonymous November 2, 2008, 1:34 PM

I invited my twins’ whole class and only 1 person invited showed! Thankfully we had the big party with the family a few days before because I was scared of having all the family and all the class in my house together.

Their birthday is in the middle of summer though so I assume a lot of families were on vacation. I know a lot of their classmates go to Mexico and India on vacation.

ame i. November 2, 2008, 2:56 PM

I’ve had the almost opposite happen, where few RSVP’d but amost everyone showed up. I had to scramble to get enough goodie bags put together.

Devil's Advocate November 2, 2008, 3:37 PM

Just FYI. I barely have time to make it to parties for my own family. Nevermind the getting invites for every kid in the class. If I don’t RSVP then just assume that’s my “no”. Don’t get offended…we didn’t ruin your daughters party. Half the time I don’t even know who the name is on the top of the invite. I would never send a blanket ivitation to a whole class. I send private invites through the mail to my daughter’s friends. Next time try that and see how that goes.

Jodi November 2, 2008, 6:29 PM

There’s no excuse for horrid manners. Period. When you become a parent, it’s incumbent upon you to set the best possible example of how to be a human being. Lowering the bar, as Devil’s Advocate suggests, just makes life more unpleasant for everyone. I dread how this generation of kids will turn out — as it is, only about half of the children (or their parents) whose parties we attend bother to acknowledge the thoughtful, generous gifts we give. One of the most important thing you can do for your child(ren) is to teach integrity and values, first among them the Golden Rule.

Anonymous November 2, 2008, 8:31 PM

Perhaps this lack of RSVPing could be interpreted as a message that whole class parties are not necessarily desired or appreciated. Maybe a smaller gathering with people who care enough about coming to RSVP would be more appropriate.

mary November 2, 2008, 10:27 PM

That does stink! I would have felt awful… I have no solutions though— RSVP’ing is simple and people should do it.

This is one of the reasons why I have gone back to “family only” parties and my kids are just learning that they Don’t “have to” have a friend-party. We can have friend get-togethers anytime during the year…take friends to movies, take friends swimming, etc.

Ivana November 3, 2008, 2:22 AM

That happened to my kid, also, two years ago. We Prepared everything at McDonalld’s, invited whole bunch of kids and…four of them came !!! So mad and sad in the same time.

Gina November 3, 2008, 8:39 AM

I don’t care what kind of party it is, if you intend on not showing, at least have the common courtesy of letting the host know so that he/she can plan accordingly. ALSO, if you RSVP in the negative, don’t change your mind and then show up because you couldn’t find something better to do or your plans got canceled.

Common courtesy in this country has gone right out the window!!! It takes maybe at the most 5 minutes of your time to open the invite, check your calendar and RSVP, seal the envelope (which most of the time is already stamped for you) and put it with the rest of your mail to go out the next day. How hard is that!?!

Linney5680 November 3, 2008, 8:47 AM

thank god i invite our families to those parties (instead of having a family party and a friends party) so even if 3 kids show up i still have cousins and outside of school friends. i only invited the whole class once for the same reason, only 4 kids showed up, and i spent $40 on cake and cupcakes….not to mention how much we spent on food (we always do hot dogs and burgers)…but also, NO ONE RSVP’d and pisses me off, if they had, i certainly wouldn’t have had to spend all that money….SO school policy or not, we don’t invite the whole class, we just mail the invitations instead of handing them out in class.

DEbbie November 3, 2008, 9:25 AM

Hi, I agree that people SHOULD repond! I always do. I never did parties for the whole class however and they always worked out fine.WE invited close friends that WOULD always show up and parties with less then 12 kids seemed like enough for me. Or the family parties are good too where your child won’t be disappointed! Good luck! Just take it as a learning expereince.

momoffour November 3, 2008, 9:57 AM

Happened to me (baby shower). My side lived too far away but hubbies big family was in the same town. Hardly anyone showed. I was hurt. Way too many chairs set up. It was embarrasing. A few months later I gave my SIL her baby shower and everyone showed up. It was a crush. I was happy for her but it just made the hurt that much worse.

Becca November 3, 2008, 10:03 AM

First off I don’t think schools have a say in how many children you invite to a child’s birthday party! I have always restricted my daughter to no more then five friends! I’m not going to let a school dictate who my child need to invite to a party I am paying for! Not to mention by having her in vote only her closest friends more of them are likely to show up! Not to mention B-day parties can be expensive enough without having to pay for a party of 31 kids!
If she had three friends show up and they were close friends that is all that matters! Maybe you actually ruined the party your self by making a big deal out of only three friends being there.Its more then a little selfish to say my child need tones of friends and gifts at ta her party! I think children should be happy for what they get and the friends they have. This type of mentality only te4aches a kid that 30 friends is more valuable then one best friend!
As far as the schools policy! Next time tell them that unless they are paying for the party that you are only inviting your child’s closest friends! I see nothing wrong with it and if the school has that much of a problem with it then maybe you need to look into a new school for your child to attend! Unfortunately people don’t always respond and thus why a school should never dictate things like this that are run by the parent! I for one won’t be letting a school tell me how to run my child’s b-day party. I also will be teaching my children to be happy even if only one friend shows up! They will make for better adjusted adults if they don’t expect everyone to bend over backwards for them. The best party is one where you have fun and don’t worry about the numbers!

Michelle November 3, 2008, 10:47 AM

The reason this is school policy is because not all children are tactful and not all have been taught manners by their parents. When there isn’t such a policy in place some children who have birthday parties invite their friends and make a big fuss over the parties in front of the children who aren’t invited. I do see the school’s point.

Are you sure the policy is to invite everyone in the class? Or is it just that the policy is to invite everyone when the invitations are handed out in class? That seems like that would be the case. If invitations are discreetly handed out after school there shouldn’t be a problem.

Regarding the birthday party, I’m sorry for you and your daughter. We’ve been there before. Things like that happen. People are usually too busy to reschedule their whole day (and sometimes even weekend) around a birthday party for a schoolmate. Next time you might want to have a small party with just a few select friends. It can be more fun and even less expensive!

amber November 3, 2008, 11:02 AM

I think everyone should show some courtesy and RSVP. I try to do it everytime. A few times invites might have slipped through the cracks. As a parent it is hard to plan parties if noone RSVPs. My oldest son wants to invite some friends over for his b-day party. I can’t afford to invite everyone so I Will let him choose a few to invite.

Heather Panos November 3, 2008, 2:59 PM

I’m so sorry that happened to your family. I had a similar thing happen on my daughters 4th birthday. We also invited her whole preschool class,as I always invite everyone. A few days before the party I sent out another invite to just remind them as I hadn’t heard from anyone. Needless to say on the day of the party with all the decorations up the food ready and the cake. Not one child showed up!!!! I think that I was more upset than my daughter. but it taught me a lesson that if you don’t hear from these rude people it usually means they are not coming. Just last week I had a party for my 7 year old son, and something similar happened with one family. I always start calling people a few days before the parties now just to get a final head count. Well this women actualy had the gall to say to my face “Oh, I thought that it already passed”. Well she will never have an invite from us again. I think that people should just be honest and say they can’t come. No one is going to get mad it just makes it much easier on the host of the party to have a definite yes or no.

viv November 13, 2008, 9:20 AM

I only celebrated both my sons 1st and 2nd birthday’s with a party. A fair amount of people came but now each year for their birthday instead of spending money on party favors and all that goes with a party I use the money to get them awesome gifts plus I take them out to where they wish to go such as a movie or bowling alley and dinner with family. They love that much more.

Michelle November 19, 2008, 7:33 PM

That is the stupidist thing ever, the school. What if the parents are poor? What if the little girl thinks boys are “iky”. Then parents spend an extra… 200.00 a year on birthday presents. The school shoudlnt say who you invite as a birthday is none of there buisness


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