Sometimes parenting seems like a secret society with etiquette rules no one ever talks about, especially during birthday parties. It's overwhelming and awkward and terrible, so avoid it all together by following these commandments.
Hey, I'm not saying you need to plan six months in advance for a trip to your local inflatable place. We're all busy, and I get that. But if you send an invite home with my kid the day before the party complete with taped on lollipop and promises of cupcakes and fun, and we already have something going on, then I have to be the jerk if we can't go. If we can still go, then I have to call you last minute to find out what to bring, which brings us to...
No one means this. I know no one means this because I made the mistake of taking someone at her word when she said this, and then we were literally the only people that showed up gift-free. I did this twice because I'm a moron. Now is not the time for modesty or to feign magnanimity. Just tell me what your dumb kid wants.
The worst part of any party is the awkward 15 minutes right at the beginning when parents show up, trying to decide if this is the type of party where you drop your kid off and bounce, or if you're supposed to stick around. Either way is fine, just say what you want or I'm going to split and go take a nap.
Mother-daughter pin the tail on the donkey sucks and no one likes it. There. Someone had to tell you.
Ugh. The "we open presents at home" thing. I mean, I get it if there's limited time at the venue of whatever but if I've successfully off-loaded gift-picking duty onto my kid, she's gonna be crushed if she doesn't get to watch her friend open presents. Also, it's really awkward to watch your kid throw a tantrum because you're still inexplicably hoarding his presents for him even though he isn't 2-years-old. I understand the sentiment behind not wanting kids to feel left out, but those kids need to suck it up. If you can't be special on your own birthday, then what's the point?
I'm all for skipping the six-dish spread, so I really don't care if you don't want to cook or order pizza or whatever. I'm with you. Just don't be coy about it. If you're serving ice cream cake at dinner time I'm a billion percent on board with that. Say something, though, so I can give my kid some real food first so she doesn't puke in the back of my car like a lightweight college freshman on the way back home.
This goes along with commandment No. 2. It's not like I'm going to judge you if you hate Harry Potter because you believe he's in collusion with the devil (OK, I probably will judge you a little). But for the love of God, say something before I buy it, please.
Just let people go. Don't try to plan a playdate; don't try to get us to stay. Don't make it weird.
If parents are trying to leave sans sack o'crap, wink knowingly and pretend you don't see them. Don't be that parent: The one that chases a kid down to give them a mini vuvuzela for the hour-long drive home.
OK, you can hire evil, terrifying, murder-clowns if you want, but everyone will probably hate you for it. Just so you know.
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