May 11, 2012

The Ideal Birthday Party Invitation

The ideal birthday party invitation for a child's party would contain:

1. Name of child (with surname), and address of party location, and date of party, obvs.

2. Time of party---and this may seem like another for the "obvs" category, but I'm listing it on its own to specify start time AND end time because the two party invitations we got this week only have a start time.

3. It doesn't have to be a lengthy minute-by-minute thing, but a GIST of what is going to happen at the party. Whether it will be indoors or outdoors, so I can make decisions about sunscreen and tick repellent and outerwear. Whether food other than cake will be eaten, so I can make decisions about what to feed the child ahead of time. Whether it's one of those big family-reunion-type parties with a few school friends also invited, so no one is watching the kids because everyone's catching up and no one knows who belongs to whom, so I'll need to bring a book and stay. Plus, some of my kids are the anxious type, so this lets me prepare them a little ahead of time for how things are likely to go, and to review any safety/politeness rules that might be specific to the type of party.

4. For younger children, a line about whether parents should expect to stay or leave, or whether it's completely up to them.

5. The parents' names, especially if there's only a phone number for R.S.V.P.ing.

6. If there is ANYTHING WEIRD about the location, DETAILS about that. Especially for apartment complexes: parking instructions, which building to go to, which door to go in, which button to press to get buzzed in ("Hey, these are all surnames! None of them say 'Jonathan's apartment'!").

7. An email address for R.S.V.P.ing, I beg of you. I BEG OF YOU.

38 comments:

Becky said...

Oh, YES especially on the email address. My daughter is in preschool, and I don't know ANY of the parents' names. So when I get an invite that says "R.S.V.P. to Suzie at xxx-xxxx!" I'm all, "Dude, who's Suzie? Is that the mom? An aunt? A business?" I usually just write a note and stick it in the kid's folder. Heh.

Elizabeth said...

Hmmmm. My most recent party invite only scores like, a 4 on this list, unless you can extrapolate waaaaay more information from a picture of an ice cream cone than I think most people probably will.
BUT I did put my name on it AND my email address so I think I get extra points. Although last time I did this, LITERALLY NO ONE rsvp'd and people just showed up! Grrrrrr.
I am absorbing these directions and shall refer back to them during the next round of invites.

Nowheymama said...

I think parents of young children should ALWAYS be welcome to stay, especially if they don't know the family, and that this should be made clear in the invitation.

Jen said...

Oh wow I didn't even think about putting the items you mentioned in number 3. Those are all really useful too. I did include everything else (including RSVP by email...because I hate the phone too).

Karen L said...

OMG. I got it right on my first try.

Why anyone would not give an email address baffles me. I got 12 RSVPs - 11 via email, one via phone.

Give the people what they want!

Though please don't tell me that you want to text me your RSVP or that you want me to text you mine because I don't have a cellphone. Well, technically I do, but my pre-paid minutes expired about 6 months ago.

Gina said...

YES, please!

I always include my home phone, cell phone AND email address and I STILL have a hard time getting people to RSVP.

Slim said...

Oh, yes, to the schedule part. I especially want to know about the beginning and end if we need to be there at X on the dot, or if there won't be cake until the last 15 minutes, because then I know whether I can say, "We're coming from sports, so we'll be a little late if the game runs over" or "We have dentist appointments at X, so we have to leave a little early."

HereWeGoAJen said...

Do you think we can make this post go viral?

Shari said...

Why don't people do #3?? Especially on the food. Seems like parties are always scheduled for 1 PM - and most have lunch, but some don't?
I feel bad for my kid, we have had to decline 3 invitations in the past few months due to same-date parties, but at least I RSVP.
This is his first year to have a friend-party, and you can bet your bippy I will be sending detailed invites, including "wear old shoes, our yard is often muddy!"

thellfamily said...

Love this! We recently got one with no names. It had the mother's email address so we figured it out, but no kid or grown up names. And we don't know the kid or family well.

And the food is so important. We're invited to one that is 10:00 to 11:45 so we're thinking that's a very clear, BUT NO LUNCH signal. But last time we thought that for a 4:00 - 5:30 they plied the kids with sandwiches. Never can tell. Well, they COULD tell, and then we'd KNOW.

Alice said...

this is fascinating, since virtually all invites i get these day are *evites* (which often have TONS of helpful info). i suspect this is because i don't get invited to a lot of kids' parties :)

susie said...

Dear Swistle,

If you wrote an advice column about how to be better at life, I would read it every day and feel like a better human.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Yes! And being a non-parent, I think this should be Invitation Law for every type of invitation! And I think - at least for adults - I'd like it to specify that it IS or is NOT a surprise party, because I am always worried about mentioning a party even if it wasn't specified as a surprise.

And while we're at it, can we have an ideal wedding invite as well? For instance, can we get a standard list of reasonable party attire? So that there is "casual = jeans and a T" and "semi-formal = a sundress or khakis" and "formal = cocktail dress or suit" and "black tie = fancy dress or tux"? Because I have gotten invitations that say, "Garden smart" or "beach formal" or whatever and I have NO IDEA what that means. NO IDEA.

Stimey said...

These rules need to be codified and enforced.

Kara said...

Love this!

Also, please don't throw your child a party to cover for your Lia Sophia, Pampered Chef, candles, purses or whatever else you sell and then strong arm the parents and force them to stay for the sales pitch. I swear, I took my child to a party last year, at a house, nothing out of the ordinary, etc. Then I ask, OK, "what time should I get her?" The Mom tells me, "Oh, no, we don't allow children to stay here without supervision, you need to stay for the party. In fact, the other Moms are in the next room looking at some purses I sell in my spare time." These aren't infants or toddlers, these are 8 and 9 year old girls. I did 45 minutes, and then dragged my kid out of there. Another Mom joined me, and we took our kids bowling because the party was so crappy.

Joanna said...

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssss. I like it when the invitation says "Meet us in the backyard for ______!" and "Pizza and cake at noon!"--short, efficient party terms. I also like to know the type of food that will be served, because bagels/coffee and pizza/soda are chosen with equal frequency for an 11 a.m. party in these parts. But I understand that that's EXCEEDINGLY picky. I also despise regrets-only, because I use my own RSVP in the "sent" mailbox as both a record that I've done so and as a reminder.

Saly said...

I just got an invitation that meets ALL of the above. I was so so so thrilled that I could email my response that I almost forgive the mom for having an email address to the tune of Imluvinallmahbehbehs at whatevermail dot com.

But both of the big kids are invited and it's a 4 hour party on a Saturday and I think that's just dandy.

Wendy said...

Also, if there's only going to be lunch/dinner-type-food for the kids and not the adults, then please fortheloveofallthatisholy tell me that as well. Went to 2 parties recently that announced Pizza! on the invite, only to find that Pizza! was only for the 5-year-olds and the rest of us were going to have to Starve! while watching them not eat because they are 5 and there's cake to be had.

NellaBean said...

Most excellent. I was just about to order invitations for my son's birthday and this was a great checklist; I give myself an A-.

Carmen said...

Whew! My invitations for Kieran's party met all of the above criteria. It's nice to know my tendency towards lots of extra information (in my husband's eyes, anyway) actually served me well in this case.

Sarah said...

OOOOH, LOVE THIS. I'm beginning to enter the classmate birthday party stage of life and this will most definitely come in handy!

And I totally hate events that happen so CLEARLY around meal times and NO MEALS or only little nonfilling snacky food. If you're inviting me over around dinner time, a fruit and veggie tray is not going to cut it. I brought a gift and an appetite.

Doctor's Wife - Yes! I hate the new creative attire invites. We're invited to an event - "Hampton's Casual!!" Dude, we're in ARKANSAS.

Carolyn said...

AMEN! Though if they at least had an email address, you could ask to clarify some of those other things . . . :)

Clarabella said...

I no longer send paper invites, so I am WINNING the email thing. This year, I didn't even do evite, just Facebook.
According to your guidelines, I included ALL THE PERTINENT information I needed to for my son's birthday party tomorrow.
I feel like I won something.

Ashley said...

okay here is a random question for you on the birthday party invite front. Both of my children have recently had birthday parties, Both were at the local rec center with specific times on them (5:30 pizza then cake, 6:30 swimming, something like that) both had rsvp's on the invite with my name( I have never thought about putting an email until this post, but I will from now on). I wrote the invitations for the 5 year olds party but for the 8 year olds- she wanted to write them, so I let her, her hand writting is very legible. Both sets of invite were handed out at school/preschool. The preschool ones were put in child specific boxes that parents check everyday when they pick up thier kids. Here is the problem. No one RSVPed, and worse, not a single friend showed to the party! Both girls had word of mouth invites (grandma, aunt, etc) that showed so neither was devistated but still, am I doing something wrong? We ecen ran into one of the families the night before one of the parties and the mother assured us they would be there, and we saw them at the pool, as we were leaveing, but they didn't come to the party. I feel bad for my girls and I want to fix whatever for next year, so any advise you have would be great!

d e v a n said...

Yes to #7. YES!

Karen L said...

I don't know, Ashley, but that is awful, the not RSVPing and the lying to your face.

FWIW, for our birthday party, we got RSVPs from those who were coming and not a single RSVP from the 6 who did not come.

Swistle said...

Ashley- Man, I don't know, that sounds nuts! I'm not sure there'd be anything you could do on your end to fix that.

Slim said...

Ashley -- Did you see that the invitations had been picked up? Our daycare cubby would occasionally swallow an invitation, and it was mortifying to discover two months later that there had been a party, but we didn't know. But our daycare didn't have separate mailboxes; maybe yours does, so things don't burrow in among the spare clothes?

Slim said...

Also, I am now inventing baffling dresscodes in my head, thanks to Life of a Doctor's Wife.

Winter Scuba
Thursday during Epiphany
Work-outing Bowling
etc.

Karen L said...

On the dresscode tangent: I got one "upscale urban" but this was before urban was code for Black so I guess it was a little less offensive than it sounds, but still offensive.

jen(melty) said...

I just sent out birthday invitations and I totally thought of you and snickered the whole time - I wrote a little note and slipped it in all the cards outlining every single way to contact me.. phone, voicemail, cell phone, yes-you-can-text!, email. 1 person rsvp'd via email and the rest via text, except my neighbor who told me in person.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer the email thing myself. However, all the birthday parties I have had for my son. I have but an email address and phone#. No one has ever emailed me always just called.
And I am guilty of one of your things I never put his last name.
why would you need it? If its not for an aprtmnet coplex situation like you put?

Mj said...

Saly, you are so funny! Ashley, ohmygoodness, how horrible!! I have no advise for you, but my heart broke for you and your girls over that one. What rude people! Swistle, your blog is magic, and I am addicted to reading your tales of joy, woe and confusion in life- don't ever stop! I was a bit distressed, though, as I had JUST handed out invitations this week, with EVERYTHING you asked for detailed,.......EXCEPT I didn't put email...!!! I'm so sorry Swistle! I just use my phone for ABSOLuTELY EVerYTHiNG.....so I only put cell number. Forgive me? Hmmmmm, only five of the 12 have replied so far....and they were all in person at school except one text message. I will completely remember emails from now on....BTW, Doctorswife, I DONT think semi- formal is sundress or khakis. Not around these parts. But I agree there needs to be a DEFINITION book: we received an invitation advising "Sunday best". Now I KNOW that is a reference to church attire, but we are not churchie.....Sundays are my housework and baking-for-the-week days. So the 'best' I would do on a Sunday is my house cleaning clothes.....with perhaps an apron. That's ok, I'll wear my best apron.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- In addition to the apartment issue, sometimes I know the parents by their first and last name, but I don't know which Aidan has sent us the invitation. Or I might have a class list that includes email addresses, but there are two Jacobs in the class. Or we get an invitation from an "Addie," but no one in the class has a name with that as a natural nickname. Or the email address is a parent's first initial and surname, but I can't read it, so having the child's surname would help me decipher it. It's true it doesn't come up very often---but we're talking here about the IDEAL party invitation, and invitations do generally include the first and last names of the host.

Kelsey said...

This is a good check-list... I would feel SO MUCH LESS awk if I could email people all my allergy questions rather than call for the first contact... It is super awkward, especially if I haven't already met the parent.

Alexicographer said...

@Ashley that does sound awful but I will note my son had been going to his new preschool for easily 3 months before I even realized there were cubbies for the parents to pick papers up out of, and I still (a year in) don't usually remember to get them. So, there's that.

@Anon I bemoan the increasing absence of last names generally. To me it suggests a complete non-interest (indeed an aversion to) a continuing relationship of any kind -- i.e., if I don't tell you my last name, it's because I don't want you to be able to find me in the phone book, etc. (and I certainly wouldn't dream of inviting you to my kid's birthday party, nor expect to get invited to your kid's, if you don't want me to know who you are). And, it makes it impossible (well, difficult, because I will ask) to instruct my kid how to address you.

Swistle, thanks, these are great.

Alicia said...

Totally agree about the email. I hate having to call to RSVP ... just keep it simple and let me email you while I'm already doing email for the day.

Daycare Girl said...

Yes! We received an invite the other day where they put my daughter's name in the For: space on the card. Yes, I get that the invitation is for her, but who is the PARTY for? I had no idea.