Mom on a Budget Wants To Invite Only 10 Kids from 6-Year-Old's Class to Her Birthday Party

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Planning (and throwing) a kids party isn't always a walk in the park. In fact, it can get pretty stressful, if you're going all-out with a party theme, customized cake, and goodie bags. But for one anonymous mom who wrote into Slate's Care and Feeding advice column, her biggest issue wasn't on all the little details she had to plan -- she was most concerned with who to invite. Or rather, who not to invite. In her open letter, the mom admitted she only wants to invite 10 of her daughter's closest friends

  • Last year, the mom decided to throw a joint birthday party with one of her daughter's classmates.

    They invited the entire Pre-K class, spent half the money they would have on a party, and everyone seemed happy that there was "one less party to schlep their kids to," the mom explained in her letter.

    But now, her daughter's birthday is once again approaching, and she'd like to do things differently.

    "This year, we have neither the budget nor the desire to do even that," the mom continued. Instead, she (and her daughter) would rather throw a princess party in their small NYC apartment. On the invite list? Ten of her daughter's closest friends and no parents.

    And the highlight? A drag queen princess will be leading the festivities! (Um, OK -- how can I get an invite to this?) 

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  • There's just one little problem: There are 35 other kids in her 6-year-old's class.

    "Even though we’ve told her not to talk about the party in front of people, especially people who aren’t invited, she’s bound to let it slip," the mom wrote. "Do I say something to the families we’re friendly with but whom she doesn’t want to invite? Is it tackier to say something or nothing? Or do I have to rent out a big space, make the invite list bigger, not leave anyone out, and spend money I don’t really have for a party none of us want, just to assuage my guilt?"

  • Many parents felt like it was the Letter Writer's party, and she can invite as many (or as few) kids as she wants to.


    "I don't see why anyone would sweat about limiting a 6-year-old's party to 10 friends," one commenter wrote. "I don't know anyone who invites 35."

    "I don't think it's an issue not to invite the whole class," a second person added. Though that person had one caveat: "What's important is how you invite them, and our schools are very open that parents shouldn't have kids bringing invitations to school for just some of the class."

    "When I was a kid (way back in the '80s), I ONLY invited my friends to my birthdays, and I was ONLY invited to my friend's birthdays," a third person chimed in. "When did it become expectation that you invite the entire d--n class?  Because I'm sure as h--l not doing that for my kid when he hits school age."

  • However, a few people pointed out that there are consequences when it comes to leaving other kids out.


    "I think it's nice that some parents, who can afford it and have the desire to do it, sometimes throw their kid a party and invite the whole class," one person wrote. "That's great for the kids who have more trouble socializing and don't have any close friends at school. When kids only throw parties for their closest friends, those kids without close friends could easily go their entire early childhood without going to a birthday party."

    One person made another point that the mom might want to consider: 

    "I think it’s completely fine for the LW not to invite the whole class but inviting the whole class doesn’t mean every single kid will come. Most people probably wouldn’t even get half of the kids. Parents don’t want to take their kids to a party for a child their kid isn’t friends with or have to buy a present for said kid. They particularly won’t come if the party is not at a fun location."

  • In the end, Slate columnist Rumaan Alam sided with Mom on this one.

    Alam empathized with her conundrum, saying that it would be nice to invite everyone, but in New York, many people just don't have the space or the budgets for big birthday blow-outs.

    "Give your kid the birthday you all want," he advised. "Don’t feel you need to explain this to everyone not invited; adult parties don’t work that way. I’m not saying you won’t have some hurt feelings, but if they do come up, you can be honest -- 'We didn’t have the space or budget for a blowout party this year, I hope you and Hazel can understand.'”

    Alam added that if the mom wants to make some kind of gesture to the kids that she doesn't invite, she should get permission from the teacher to bring in cupcakes or a treat for an in-class party.

    "Everyone loves a treat," he noted, "and it might sufficiently muddy the waters so that kids who didn’t get an invite to the party won’t realize they missed something."

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