It’s official. Party etiquette has gone mad, y’all.
In a news story that has made its way here from the UK, father, Derek Nash explains how his son, Alex, received a “proper invoice” from another parent for failing to show up to a birthday party to which he had RSVPd. This other parent, Julie Lawrence, cites that “Alex’s non-attendance left her out of pocket” to the tune of £15.95.
WHAT THE WHAT??
FIRST of all — and they may do things differently at the dry ski slope where the party was being held in the UK — when one books a venue for a party, there is customarily a flat rate for the booking based on a minimum number of attendees. Any number over and above is subject to a surcharge, understandably.
So, excuse me if I find it hard to believe that Ms Lawrence would have had to pay anything over and above for a child that didn’t show, a moot point if it were a party package, an amount she would had to have paid regardless.
SECOND, even if she had had to pay this extra amount, SO WHAT? So, let’s go after the deep pockets of a five-year-old, now?
Listen, as a mom of four who has hosted and attended countless birthday parties, there have been RSVP hiccups. Dates have been mixed up. We have had kids not show to our parties and, aside from some mild disappointment on the part of the party boy or girl, it was not a big deal. I have also had the misfortune of having to explain to my own child that we ‘forgot’ a party. Forgot to write it on the calendar or wrote it on the wrong day. I have promptly phoned the parent to apologize. Again: NO BIGGIE, folks.
THIRD, is this what kids’ birthday parties have come down to? Hey, I get that some of us enjoy getting into the party themes and cool venues, at times taking things to the extreme. But when did planning a kid’s birthday party begin rivalling a freaking wedding circus sideshow, for crying out loud?! (Cash gifts are now the norm, by the way, and you’d better be sure you pay the going rate ‘per plate’.)
Are people now expecting that the party costs be in some way subsidized by the party-goer in the way of the gift’s value? And, oh, you’d better not let life get in the way of a party because in the event of a no-show, expect an invoice.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.
Let me be clear that I am not advocating being dismissive of RSVPs and party etiquette. If you have committed to saying ‘yes’ (or ‘no’, as the case may be) then to fail to show (or show up unexpectedly) can be disappointing and in some cases, perhaps, a bit of an inconvenience, however unintentional. Just please, please offer a courtesy call to explain the circumstances. People are very forgiving when treated with respect. Nevertheless, any expenses incurred in the planning and execution of the party should be the sole responsibility of the host and in no way should a guest be expected to absorb the cost.
Remember that we are talking about kids. At a birthday party. A party with invited guests. A party being hosted for a child and his friends for fun. Colour me old school but the very premise of a party, any party, is that you host your invited guests (at your home or elsewhere) with no expectations, rather, for the pleasure of their company.
You mean have a party just for the fun of it?
Do it. I dare you.