Charging Guests to Come to Your Kid's Birthday Party Is Tacky

birthday party chargingMy kid's birthday party is less than a week away, and things are starting to get stressful around here. We've got so much to clean, so much to bake, and so much money leaking out of my wallet right now it isn't funny. It is expensive to throw a kid a party these days, even a party in our backyard with a few friends and some homemade food.

But no matter how high the price goes, there's one trend I'm not buying into: charging little kids to attend my kid's party (or charging them for not showing up). No, I'm not kidding.


One mom recently reported that when her 6-year-old got sick and wasn't able to attend a buddy's shindig, the mom told her to cough up $15! Shocked, I asked around, and friends admitted their kids had been invited to parties, and when they called to RSVP, the moms said, "Great, it will be $X to get in."

Say, WHAT now?!?!

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Ladies and gentlemen, when you start expecting other parents to foot the bill so your kid can have a party, it's time to roll back the welcome mat and sit down for a little priority assessment. Does your kid really need to rent out the whole gymnastics center to have a good time? Do you really need to hire the entire high school baseball team to come do demonstrations (and rent out the local diamond)?

Wait, don't bother sitting down and thinking about all that. The answer is "no."

No kid needs you to go over-the-top crazy for a birthday party. Ever. If anything, I've found that the less I plan for my kid's birthday party, the more fun the kids have. Planned out party games have nothing on running wild around the backyard whooping at the top of their lungs.

Not that I'm not against destination parties -- my kid has had a blast at bowling parties over the years -- but planning one means recognizing the cost involved and shouldering that burden. If you can't handle that, then you don't start charging guests, you back off and plan something else.

After all, it's YOU who decided on a destination birthday, not the other kids' parents. You had other options; don't tell me you didn't. Maybe you don't have a yard for kids to play in or you live in a tiny apartment, but still, you chose to throw a "real" party rather than just letting your child have a sleepover with one or two kids or asking a friend to use their yard.

YOU. You got that?

Personally we opt for our backyard because it's what we can afford. It allows us to give our daughter a nice day with her friends (friends whose families are already shelling out for a present for my kid and who can't always afford the cost of paying for their kid's entertainment for the day).

Isn't that what a birthday party is supposed to be about in the end? Letting our kids celebrate with their friends? Not how much it costs? 

Would you charge kids to attend your kid's birthday party? Has this ever happened to you?


Image via Jeanne Sager

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