Sunday, May 25, 2014

Oh boy, this party planning business

Happy birthday to my book. She's TWO today :)

Last year, K had 5 kids she wanted to invite from school. Connor had 2 of the same kids and 2 others.

We invited all those kids (7 unique) and 3 pitched. 1 didn't bother to RSVP (he won't get an invite this year), 1 was sick on the day (our party is traditionally on the coldest day of the year) but came to drop off a gift and 2 were on holiday so declined when they got the invite. Oh, our party is also during school holidays - fun times!

The only thing worse would be if we lived at the coast. Winter = rain!

I need to start making the party list and I did what I did last year:
  • pulled up my spreadsheet from last year
  • make a list of my friends and their kids
  • see whose party we went to where we need to reciprocate the invite
  • and then I made a rookie mistake:
I again asked the kids!

This time K rattled off a list with about 10 kids and C wasn't far behind.

They also each said they want to invite their twin (!), me and D (I should think so as we're paying), nanny S (she will be there), Granny and Aunty C.

A funny aside. Uncle C (SIL's hubby) is not very kid-friendly so he avoids family things as much as he can. I don't blame him, to be honest. However, the kids don't know him well and at a lunch last week, he was speaking so loud I could see K's terrified eyes.

So I hugged her and said to the table, "let's just move on please. K and I have already spoken about it and we have an understanding".

Granny and Aunty C "twigged" and carried on while he belaboured his point a bit more and K clung to me.

Afterwards I asked her how she felt and she said, "I really didn't like it when Uncle C spoke so loud. It made me feel shy".

BTW, this child beautifully expresses herself and I want to write everything down because she is an advert for an introvert! She'll say things like "I do want to be with you, Mummy, but I just feel like being alone now" - this type of thing. I LOVE IT!

this family photo by Cat
Anyway, we have problems with this humongous party list.

  • You see, over the last year, we attended parties for 16 kids and turned down invites to 5 others.
  • If we just reciprocated, that's 21 kids besides K & C, EXCLUDING some of my friends.
  • It also excludes about 10 "new" kids they claim to have as friends.

I told them the other day, "Babies, this is getting out of hand". We're going to have to cut down.

(I can't invite 40 kids to a birthday party IN MY HOUSE and I refuse to have it at a venue)

There's obviously only one solution - decide on my comfort number, add some more to account for declines (about 30 - 35% decline), and go for it. Accept that this crazy is just one morning.

But help me out -
  1. what are your criteria? when do you stop inviting your people and focus on the little ones' people? 
  2. do you always reciprocate invites? (I'm thinking of that weird party and I already said NO WAY)

(thank goodness we don't have family with kids here in Jhb!)

PS does S & S party mean something "weird" - for some reason that post has a TON of hits.


  1. This was the first year I didn't invite my friends' kids...unless they are truly friends that A&B would count. I felt a tiny bit awkward about it, but we had the party directly after preschool one day, which helped limit it to their school friends, plus the two sets of "outside" friends I knew could make it.

    Try not to over-stress! I know it's easier said than done, but it's probably a much bigger deal to you than anyone else. Enjoy the planning!!!

    1. You are so right... although there are all these social dynamics in Jhb :)

  2. My comfort level is about 20 children. Some come with up to 5 adults, like cousins!

    I do a bit of juggling to get everyone squished into that number and that's the way we roll. There are only a few kids from school that N usually wants to invite and none of them have ever turned up anyway. *shrug*

    1. Instinctively, I felt 20 too, but let's see :)

  3. This year was the first time I let Liam choose the entire guest list. I limited him with numbers of course.. like only 5 school friends, because we have a lot of family and close friends but everyone who was there, was there because HE said so. We've had 3 school parties in 3 weeks.. I see the trend moving towards only inviting school friends.. like the whole class.. which actually makes sense to me if you have a class full of nice kids because these are the peers your child spends their days with. Liam has 16 lovely kids in his class this year, except one, who is a bit troublesome :) so even I've enjoyed these parties! And NO, I do not believe in reciprocating an invitation at all, neither do I feel bad about it! Hannah's birthday today.. we had family over yesterday, I just sent cake and cupcakes to school today, and she'll have a little party with her cousins on the weekend. No stress!

    1. there's always that one in the class...... there are two in C's class too!

  4. We have a set list of people that we invite to Kades' party. Friends with kids of similar age mostly but all who we have regular playdates etc with. This is the first year he's really made "friends" at school but can't yet tell me who he wants out of his classmates. So this year I've gone with the usual list and from next year he can choose from school and we will only invite friends with kids who we actually interact with. (He turns 3 soon)

    This year is the first year I'm doing his party at home. Can't wait!


    1. you are going to LOVE the party at home. You can prepare beforehand, it's mad crazy but MEMORIES!

  5. I control the babies lists for now - I usually invite all my friends - on the list for Jacks now is currently 20 kids - that excludes any school friends. I decided this year to not invite his school friends because he is leaving - so we will do a little cup cake thing at school on Friday and thats that. He never connected with one child so I don't feel bad about it. Until they are 6/7 I keep the number of invited kids to 20 - not all of them arrive so it works well for me and I still get to have my friends there :) After that they start having their own ideas!

    The older kids get to invite 10 people INCLUDING a friend for their sibling - so basically I want a max of 11 kids in my house for a party! It has worked well for 4 years now!

    1. I love your ideas for the older kids!

      Makes sense for Jack's party seeing as he's leaving.

  6. I think my friend, it's time to let the kids decide. This year the boys will also decide for themselves - last year was sort of a mix. Initially I only wanted them to decide but they had so few on their list that I added friends. With A we have been doing it since grade 0. But with just the very closest of house friends that we see almost weekly too.

    And if I had to reciprocate every invite A got I would have 50 kids at the party. She is very popular and gets invited a lot but prefers just a few close friends at her own party - this year was 6.

    1. I think you may be right... back to my spreadsheets :)

  7. Don't you just love how you have party stress instead of work stress ;-)

    I'm still amazed at how "big" parties have gotten since we were kids...


      Me too, Natasha, I think I had about 2 parties total in my life while growing up.

  8. I always laugh when I see the huge number of children at my grandchildren's parties...and the cousins play together and the other children play with each other. Makes me think they would be happy with only the cousins around.

    1. That's what I'm afraid of, in reverse. Because my kids hardly know some of my friends' kids..............eek!

  9. Please, please, please can I speak... I used to do incredible parties for my kids until we had about five kids and they all have birthdays at the same time of year and I realized my insanity. I think what finally got me to just quit on the huge numbers was - ho hum: the thought of all THOSE gifts. Argh and imagine that times eight kids. (20 gifts times 8 kids in a year - gah!!!) My kids have a handful of best friends each, friends that they play date with to and fro regularly about once a month and the week of their birthday they invite those friends over and they have a tea party. They pretty much do their own thing - bake something of course (!), if they want to have a game or a theme I am happy to help - but they are pretty inventive and have actually a very good idea of what a fab party should be. I know you can say no gifts, (and yes I feel nothing about being that grinch), or you can come up with inventive gift swaps, exchange ideas... but the stuff... sigh I can't do it!!! Now I am thinking, I always thought my kids didn't get invited to tons of parties because they were one of eight and folks were terrified of asking siblings and the whole "rent a crowd" - but now that I write this - maybe its because I've never felt a need to reciprocate!!! Oh dear... it is a little late to learn social graces at this stage and honestly, I am really thrilled at the low level of party activity on our social calendar...

    1. Feel free to speak :)

      I love your parties on the blog - you have a way of making them fun, thoughtful and simple/ stress-free all at the same time. I would TOTALLY do the ice-cream cake if I had summer babies :)

  10. Gosh, I have never reciprocated in my life! And I don't feel guilty about it either.
    I always ask who I must invite - Joel usually wants no one but this year I think he'll ask some people because there are two names that come up regularly. Joshua usually wants the whole world and I have to reign him in. I don't do parties at home - always out and I place emphasis on the fact that birthdays are a celebration for family and a few close friends - not all and sundry. This usually helps for Joshua. Family and cousins are ALWAYS invited.
    Also. I can't handle more than 7 kids at a time. I LOVE how Se7en does parties - totally what I would do.

  11. Seeing all your craziness, and other friends for that matter, makes confident in my decision to end parties. Have you tried asking if they'd like a 'small' trip instead? There's no reason to drive yourself mad or stretch yourself(and house) too far for one day.

    I do love Se7en's teas without the gifts. Can you imagine the clutter and chaos coming into your house?!

    I've reassured myself that since our birthday fall over the summer break from school it would be impossible to get out invites and fight vacations. I'm really sparing them the disappointment, LOL! I'm not help, I don't plan to reciprocate invites. However if they are adamant about having a party once they start school and have some more friends I might do a small party but it would be 10 kids max. I also have an easy out as they'll be in the same class so, I'm assuming, have a lot of overlap in their guest lists.

    Do you think two separate parties would suit you better? Limiting each child to 5 and two or so of your friends per party? That's seems more controlled and a happy medium for everyone.

  12. We tend to stick to immediate family, but we come with a ton of kids already LOL

  13. Is "S & S party" ours? I wonder why so many hits?
    The best parties are when there are as few people as possible. I have always invited my friends with kids and last year invited about 5/6 kids form school, the ones I know they play with. I think there were about 20-24 kids in total. That was a big party for me.


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