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Why I'm Charging You Money To Hold Your Spot at My Kid's Birthday Party

Photograph by Twenty20

I fell for it. I knew I would. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

I knew that at some point my now four-year old would be begging me for a birthday party. Before preschool she didn't even know a thing about birthday parties, but after the slew of birthday party invitations she received every month, she begged for a party that all her friends could come to.

I don’t know what these parents do to have such lavish birthday parties every year for their children. I’ve never been one to go all out for birthday parties. Simple at-home celebratory gatherings with our immediate family? Yes! A trip to the Science Center and kid’s favorite meal? Definitely! I figured we had lots of time to plan for the fancier stuff as our big girl got older.

Guess I was wrong.

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But I figured, fine, no problem. I could throw something together that was both inexpensive and fun. Kids are simple at this age.

So I did it! I planned a party at a local play place and invited only seven kids. I was so excited at how I managed to purchase snacks and goodies for under $50 and with just a few days left until the party, I was feeling pretty good about everything.

Until I got the first cancellation. And the second cancellation. And the third cancellation.

Are you freaking kidding me? I knew at least one kiddo wasn’t going to make it. I planned for that. But when half of the party starts canceling, you get irritated.

I’m a very understanding person, I promise! Motherhood has given a ton of empathy and especially a ton of empathy to other mothers. I get when kids suddenly get sick. I get when you overbook. I get when cars break down, babysitters cancel, siblings have other obligations and I get life’s unexpected changes.

My wallet is weeping from the kids that didn’t show and it makes me not want to host another birthday party that’s not at my home ever again.

But guess who doesn’t care? Party places that require deposits or that charge you per kid even if they don't show up. And guess who has to fork over the money anyway?

That would be me.

So that got me thinking... how cool would it be if parents charged a good $15-$20 once you confirmed your attendance to a party? I know, I know. It sounds a bit extreme and off-putting but come on, that way even if you don’t show up for whatever reason, the hosting parents aren’t stuck with a bill in case you don’t show up.

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My wallet is weeping from the kids that didn’t show and it makes me not want to host another birthday party that’s not at my home ever again. And for the parents that showed up with their kids? Guess what you get? Your money back!

I imagine this would only work for smaller parties because who wants to go around chasing 20+ people to either collect money or give money back? Either way, I guess it adds more stress to party planning which, let’s face it, .is already crazy stressful.

So while I’d never do really this, I totally wouldn’t judge a parent who would either.

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