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Party Foul: Assuming the Kids Can Come

Recently, I hosted an event where I wrote "Significant Others Welcome" on the invitation. You can imagine my annoyance and frustration when some people showed up with husbands and children. The party was a happy hour, an occasion that children do not normally take part in.

When you receive an invitation, it's important to read the fine print. One should never assume that a significant other or child is invited unless specified. The names listed on the outside of the envelope are the invited guests. If it says Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the Smith children are not invited. However, if addressed to The Smith Family, then the kids are welcome to attend.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Share your stories with us below!


Join The Conversation
muse2323 muse2323 8 years
My sister's wedding invitations specifically asked that kids be left home. They wanted a small, intimate wedding & reception and had managed to keep the numbers down to family and close friends; most neighbors and friends' parents weren't invited; some of them asked whether invitations had been lost, but graciously accepted the numbers crunch. Still, one of my sister's dearest school friends and her husband showed up not only with their 1.5-yr-old son, but also her parents! My parents and sister were gobsmacked. At least the kid was well behaved and entertaining.
missyd missyd 8 years
Nothing bothers me more than people bringing their kids to adult parties. It is selfish and disrespectful to everyone else. I have actually left parties because I felt uncomfortable drinking around a 5 years old. Come on. Some people are so brain dead
DivaDivine DivaDivine 8 years
You have to understand that a significant other can be a child, parent, dog, whatever. Next time, do what my cousin did and explicitly write "Adults Only".
CarlyHP226685 CarlyHP226685 8 years
a couple people did that at my moms wedding. The invites said "no children under 16" because we didnt want to have screaming children running around. But of course there ended up being 2 sets of parents who figured that their kids would be fine to bring. Its so rude.
leahandcecilia leahandcecilia 8 years
I think etiquette is a dying art. People need to respect the wishes clearly stated in invitations, and when writing an invitation please be sure to be mindful of who you want attending. Many times an invitations comes to us as Mr. & Mrs. only, therefore, I get a babysitter only to be reamed for not bringing my daughter.. soo annoying. I thought the invitation above was very clear and anyone who brings extra or unstated people are just plain rude.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
you 100% do not need to be more specific than "significant other" - that is TOTALLY understandable and means YOUR DATE...more specifically it means your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/ doesn't even really mean "your gay best friend" or "your girlfriend from work"....people who think it is vague are crazy and wackdoodle, your life sounds like a soap opera
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I've never had the kid problem myself (being 19), but I've had the Parent problem. My last birthday party I said on the invite that parents are welcome to drop in, have a chat and a drink with my folks, as none of my friends parents do and it ends up being a pretty lousy time for my Mum and Dad. But the parents of one of my friends took that small invite a little too far, they stayed the entire time (8 hours) and my friends step-dad ended up falling asleep on our lounge, in the middle of dinner. I was MORTIFIED! This year it's laser tag, parents play at their own risk.
Be more specific.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
As far putting the term "significant other" that's TOO VAGUE. Be specific or you may get a dog, cat, rat, small child, someone's grandma. You cannot dictate the person that your friend may consider to be a "significant other". Personally, I do not take my boyfriend to parties with my younger friends. I take another male friend who is significant to me. I don't take the boyfriend because he's not comfortable with these friends, he's deaf and doesn't like the assumption that people make that he's a moron because he cannot hear, and he doesn't feel like trying to make other people comfortable with his deafness. Understood. I take one of my gay male friends or one of my nephews. If you only want bf/gf's or husband and wives to attend w/o their children or without anyone else then say so. And don't be surprised if they stop attending your functions.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
My parents used to regularly refuse invitations to functions at their friend's homes because they had five children. According to my dad their friends would say no children allowed on the invites but someone would always bring a child to the parties. The reason for the "no children" policy was that some of these parties were Swinger parties. My parents weren't into that- no "Ice Storm" for them. Now when I was 10,11,12 and I use to take care of my mom when she was wheelchair bound. So her friends knew that a child was going to be present if they invited my mom to their home. None of them ever had a problem with it. And after my mom died these adult friends of hers - my "aunts and uncles" are now my friends too. But when they would invite me to parties and gatherings as an adult and I was caring for my young nephews, I would ask if I could bring them because my sister was working and her husband was in a wheelchair and not completely comfortable with caring for two boys alone. Because of my mom they were comfortable with two little kids at their adult parties but I often wasn't. Those folks got older and got rowdier as their own children left the nest. For the most part in my family and among my friends and my sister's friends it's usually expected that if you invite the parent, you're inviting the child. So arrangements are made to have food especially for children and some sort of entertainment for children - breakables are put out of reach and doors to locked to rooms where no one should go. But people still ask if the can bring their children to whatever function - even though it's known that preparations have been made whether the child comes or not. But people in our group usually ask anyway - as a courtesy.
LilGlamDiva LilGlamDiva 8 years
i went to a bridal shower one time, and it was borderline bachelorette party and people brought their children. I found it very strange, and would not want kids at mine..... call me selfish
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 8 years
Shoneyjoe, bravo. I accidentally brought my 8-year old step son uninvited to a party, in this case, to my husband's friend's gathering. It happened like this: we got an invitation; the party was on "our weekend" to have our son. Matt decided he was going to ask if we could bring our son, so he asked his co-worker (the husband of the hostess), who said "fine." However, we arrived, only to find out that it was not fine. I felt guilty, rude, and embarrassed.
puddlesworth puddlesworth 8 years
Maybe they thought they could bring their kids because you said "significant others" (plural) still they are pretty stupid to bring kids to a party for adults to drink at.
jenschu18 jenschu18 8 years
When throwing my mother's surprise 50th birthday, I invited only adults. No children. Much to my dismay, my father needed to invite his boss, whom my mother is not too fond. He RSVP's that he and his 11 year old son. My father wouldn't tell his boss the kid was not invited, but I seriously was not happy. IT WAS AT A BAR!!!!!
rosesandeson rosesandeson 8 years
Someone brought their kids to the NYE party I went to this year.. the kids were very well behaved and they didn't bother me one bit... but I do have to question what one earth the partents were thinking... it was really not a child friendly environment. We are all considerate... but after the drinks were flowing it's hard to say what swear words and dirty stories the kids might have heard. They were the only kids and we are all in our early to mid twenties; it wasn't a wild party, but everyone was doing shots, having fun etc...
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 8 years
At my nephew's recent birthday party, held at a paintball place, the parents of the invited guests brought the guests' siblings without asking beforehand. We are talking about 10 uninvited kids. That was an unanticipated large expense. Next year, the party will be strictly "old-fashioned" cake-and-ice-cream, a few party games, done in two hours...sigh. That said, those parents who bring along uninvited siblings are usally the same ones who bring all of their children to late-evening events and "adults-only" cocktail parties. I don't mind if the children in question are well-behaved and their parents keep a eye on them but that is seldom the case and my home is not child-proofed. I'm not "anti-child", I just don't need to add "babysitter" to my hostessing duties at a cocktail party.
Nak-Nak Nak-Nak 8 years
I have a child and I would never just bring her to an adults only event. If I can't find a babysitter or whatever, I just bow out. Likewise, when I host an "adult" party, I do not expect to see kids there. Having said that, I would never be rude to someone who brought their kids. And, also, in the past when I lived in an apartment and hosted parties in the building party room, I asked the grandparents to babysit and offered childcare services to all my friends with children in my apartment.
jessie jessie 8 years
can understand all that is being said. those are the times where hubby and i get to enjoy being and talking to adults! lol
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
shoneyjoe - thank you. Although I do think weddings are an exception since you need an exact head count. I think that would be a really easy call to make - Sorry, but no room. That said, what's a wedding without kids running around? I had none at my wedding and I missed it. But then I'm at the age where all my friends (except me) have kids. You get used to it pretty quickly.
kmckay kmckay 8 years
this drives me crazy! significant other=spouse/date NOT kids!!! we are childless and often throw cocktail hours and parties that start at 8 or after. we have only one friend couple with 2 kids under 3 and they both also assume they're invited. they show up and i'm left scrammbling to babyproof, find baby friendly cups & food, etc. when i ask them NOT to bring their kids they act like i'm totally inconveniencing them... it's a tough situation to be put it
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
I have been the child in situations like this and reading the "quelle horreur" reactions by many prior commenters is, I will admit, a little off-putting. Let me start off by saying that the invite *was* ambiguous. I know you don't think it was, but I'll be you're the person who always says the right thing with perfect tact, reasonableness, and meaning and it's everyone else who misunderstands. And please know that my mom and dad were feeling way more awkward than any of you all or your guests might have been. I know that I ruined your carefully planned day by being both nine and present. I know that your carefully planned hors d'oeuvres platters had to be recalibrated to reflect my gigantic grade-school appetite and my total lack of self-control. And I'm sure that the reason all of your friends had a horrible time because I was in the corner eating carrot sticks and crackers. Apologies. But really. Sometimes mistakes get made; sometimes invites get misread. And sometimes your ungracious reaction to the unexpected leaves an even greater impression on those who have been harshly labeled by previous commenters as "rude", "annoying", or people who 'don't understand etiquette' and their very impressionable progeny. I get it - you're hip, you're sophisticated, and you can't be bothered to have your awesome lifestyle upset by a tyke underfoot for what would be a maximum of 6 hours.
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