My son's fourth birthday is coming up in six weeks, and I would like to have a small get-together for him here at our house with just a few of his closest friends. Another boy from his preschool class shares the same birthday and his mom has mentioned throwing a joint party for the boys. Unfortunately, her idea includes a petting zoo, inviting the entire class, a buffet, and swag bags for party favors. How can I decline the offer to cohost a party politely so I won't hurt her feelings or damage the friendship between us and our sons?
— Party Pooper
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Dear Party Pooper,
Cohosting a party can be stressful no matter what the circumstances are, but when it involves someone with completely opposite ideas, step out of the equation and save your mental and financial states. Tell the other mother that you are thankful for the opportunity, but already made other plans for a low-key celebration. To lighten the blow, you may offer to help her set up for her son's party or bring ice cream for the fete. And, of course, I would invite her son to your small shindig and acknowledge his birthday by giving him a special cupcake or party favor.
— Mommy Dearest