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Monday, 16 February 2009

Do you invite the whole class to the birthday party?

I've just been reading an interesting feature on Times Online, by Sarah Ebner, and thought it's probably a question many parents of primary-aged children (myself included) have asked themselves!

Here it is:

Do you invite the whole class to your child's birthday party?


These days children's parties can be almost obscenely expensive. Jane has contacted me to say that she actually feels ashamed of how much she just spent - on a party for a six year old.

"I have previously shared and/or done the entertainment myself so it was quite a shock to the system," she writes. "I kind of feel it’s morally wrong to spend that much, but with a small house and a winter-born child, if you want to invite the whole class it is never going to be less than £300…"

Some of you might shudder at that thought, but, particularly if you're in London, I don't think this will be news to you. Parties are ridiculously expensive and part of that is probably down to raised expectations among the kids: they want "entertainers" who charge anything from £100 upwards for an hour of "fun". But space is also a factor, and this has to, at least partly, be down to the "invite the whole class" mentality.

Most state schools have 30 children in a class. It's not easy to fit that many children into your house - and that's without worrying about mess and breakages! We had 20 pre-schoolers in our house last year for my son's 3rd birthday. It was great, but a ridiculous squash. Thirty would have been out of the question.

I sense that this may only be a problem in the early years of primary school. As children grow older, many don't want to invite everyone (my daughter had girls only at her 7th party), but when they are 4, 5 or 6, it seems to be expected. Maybe starting school means signing up to a kind of unwritten code that every child - however nice they are, or however friendly they are with your offspring - should be asked to come along. Then, of course, keeping them all occupied is a huge job too!

To be honest, the primary school party world is a bit of a nightmare. It can be like a military operation, sorting out venue, entertainment, food and going home presents. And that's without keeping an eye on all the children (and when they're young, often the parents too!) Note that I haven't even mentioned presents - that's a whole other can of worms, and possibly one for another day. In the meantime, I'd be interested in knowing what happens at your school. Do you invite the whole class or have you been brave enough to put down a limit?

You can see the article, along with the many interesting responses to it here.

If you do feel brave enough to invite around 30 children to your house or party venue, then the party bags needn't cost you a fortune. Most filled party bags at Funky Dory Party Bags are very reasonably priced at between £1.00 and £1.50.

Or if you prefer, you could give each child a really special gift on the way out, such as our animal mugs, which are very reasonably priced at just £1.00 each, or £1.99 each for the larger, puzzle mugs.

3 comments:

Elaine, Littlesheep Learning said...

I'm currently wrestling with this decision... not helped by the fact my to be 5 year old is a bit shy at parties... but then how do you choose who to leave out?

Tracey said...

I've had 2 approaches to this over the years.
With my eldest, we started letting him have a party but ALWAYS just chose a select few friends (I've never been one to care who thinks I've done the right or wrong thing!) but, by his 6th birthday, we changed tack.
Now, for his birthday, I take him away for the weekend, just him and me, and spend the money on doing stuff he enjoys instead. We often visit/stay with my sister, who lives in London and he loves it. It's an annual treat now.

I shall be starting the same with my youngest, who will be 6 in July.
They seem to much more appreciate the 'mini adventure' of a trainride to London, the tube and free museums for a weekend!

Dawn Raymond said...

I love Tracey's weekend away idea!

Elaine, I always invite those we have to invite (ie, the ones who've invited us to their parties), then make a list with my son of the friends he really wants to invite. We've never ended up with more than 20.