Jan 27, 2015

Paying Your Way: Birthday Party Invoices?

There have been a number of articles circulating around about a boy and his family who have received an invoice for essentially, blowing off a birthday party. And while most people are quick to judge this parent, I think we should take a step back and take a look at what this person actually did.

For many of us who plan events, we all straddle the line between constant irritability and understanding when it comes to gathering RSVPs for any events (here are my thoughts on RSVPs for weddings). So while most of think, sticking an envelope inside a little kids backpack in a tad on the crazy side- the person has a point. I can see how both sides can be considered; however, at some point - shouldn't we all be accountable for our words?

To give you some background, it would appear after not attending the party, the boy's teacher was given an envelope by the hosting parent and the teacher put the envelope in the child's backpack to be sent home.

First and foremost - this is where my initial problem lies. The child is 5 years old - if you are this irritated regarding  the child not showing up you - as the adult - should send a letter to the person's home. Sending via the teacher via the kid's backpack is instantly a  wtf moment for me.

Per the BBC article, the parents gave the child the choice of going to the party or going with the grandparents which is where my next issue lies. Of course, they state how they had forgotten they were double booked in which case the parents should have "talked to the child" and figured out what they wanted to do. Naturally talking to a 5 year old can be problematic; however, I think it teaches the child a lesson. If you accidentally double book, you should make a decision right away about what your plans should be. According to the article, they let the child decide the day of - which essentially "screws" someone regardless. To me, that teaches the child that you can be this flaky throughout your life when really you should take responsibility for your actions

The next point is that the parents claim they had no contact information - which personally I don't believe. ANY invitation will have RSVP information. My guess is they tossed the invite because any invitation will have contact information on there. Honestly, if I were in that situation I would have reached out through the school (the way the initial parents did) and asked if there was a way to get this message to them. I feel like simply flaking on an invitation or at least not giving any effort into it - really just shows that you do not care about the couple who has planned this party.

But really, into the nitty gritty of the argument - charging someone a no-show fee. While bold, I don't entirely disagree with it. I would never consider doing it but I think it definitely sends a message that "just not showing up" is NOT okay.

I try to look it both sides, if I could not attend a party and was served a no-show fee I would be livid - but I know myself and simply not showing up without any contact isn't how I roll. I have also hosted parties (including our wedding) and I know and feel the frustrations when you have to seek out RSVPs or people just don't show up.

While personally I don't think I would ever send an invoice to someone (or multiple people) I do feel like when people just do not attend, it can be frustrating. If personally I was ever served an invoice...well, I think we'll just have to save that for another conversation.

I think the lesson we can all learn is to be prompt in your RSVPing and if something happens last minute be sure to have the contact information to let the family know. You don't want to be the rude person yourself...otherwise you'll get an invoice perhaps.

Update: the two parents seem to have battled it out on Facebook - take a look here.

Here are what some people are saying around the web:
"There is a part of me that says HECK YES to this and the other is say ‘how could they! I’m a big advocate for being prompt and timely. There is nothing worse than when you’ve spent hours and sometimes exorbitant amounts of money on your child’s party to have a few children as a no show. On the other hand, these guys have a big cheek to send home an office invoice! " - via
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore recommended different courses of action for both parents. "This is the first time I have ever heard of someone invoicing their guests for not showing up. It’s just bad etiquette," Whitmore told ABC News.Instead, Whitmore suggested "a courtesy call saying, 'I’m sorry that your child could not attend my child’s party. I had to incur the cost of him not showing up. Therefore, I would appreciate it if you could help me out by helping me either fully or in part take care of the bill for him not showing up.'” from ABC News
 I would have gone the opposite direction and made sure to get the kids party favors to him anyway. And Alexandria is spot on. Not showing up to the party without canceling was an impolite oversight. Unfortunate, but forgivable. Sending an invoice is being rude on purpose. There is a difference. Show some class, people. How petty and miserable must one be to even have time and energy to pursue this? And it’s the kids who suffer and can no longer be friends. via
Good for her. I've been tempted to do the same thing myself in the past. When a party is booked for a child, you have to tell the venue how many children are turning up and you get charged for that number of children - regardless of no-shows. So next time, parents of Alex Nash, show some manners. If you rsvp and say you're going, turn up - or pay for your absence. - via

 So parents...humans...what do you think?

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