A few weeks ago my youngest daughter received an invitation to a birthday party for a classmate in the mail. The party was to consist of fun and games at a party center and a sleepover. Beautifully crafted, the invitation left out a few pieces of important information, so I called to get further clarification of the details. My daughter’s only nine, therefore I needed to know:
- The exact address of party center
- Transportation method and who would be driving
- What time to pick her up
- Anything special needed (was it going to be themed, etc.)
The mom, whom I had never met, did not have answers to the questions that I asked. Every response was either “I’m not sure” or “I haven’t figured that out yet.” Hearing this, I was very reluctant to let her go, but the look on my little girl’s face melted my heart long enough for me to say yes. I figured that I could always Goggle the address of the place and meet with her there to discuss particulars.
That Idea was a big mistake.
The night of the party, with address in hand, I drove to the center; only to get there and see nothing—no children, no decorations, nothing. I asked the manager about the party and he told me that there were no birthday parties scheduled for that day. Confused and frustrated, I got back into the car and decided that I would try going directly to their house—maybe the ‘party center’ portion was cancelled, but the sleepover portion was still a go. I arrived to the house and knocked on the door—no one answered. I then grabbed the invitation and called the sole number that was listed on it, only to find that it was a house number and not a cell number. My call went to an answering machine.
All of this took over two hours’ time.
I left a message asking for a return call, but I never got one—that is, until the next day in the late afternoon. She apologized and said that she had changed the date of the party to the following weekend, and that she told her daughter to make sure she passed the word around at school earlier that week…..
Needless to say, my daughter did not attend the revised party.
Being a Busy Mom myself, I completely understand how frantic things can get when trying to plan birthday parties. However I also know and value the importance of good communication and organization. I’m sure the other Busy Moms whose children were invited to the party feel the same way.
Here are some things that would have made this experience a lot less stressful for everyone:
Include the physical address of the party location on the invitations
It is never good to assume that every parent knows exactly where the location of your party is. Always give the full address (including zip code) and even enclose a small printout from Goggle Maps, just so that parents can have a visual.
Include a cell phone number (or 2) on the invitation
Who is at home these days? Hardly anyone! When creating invitations, list at least two numbers where you can be reached quickly and easily. Not only is this good in case someone gets lost in-route, but also in case there’s an emergency.
Have the specifics of the party already finalized before sending invites
When it comes to deciding to entrust your little one to someone else, nothing screams uncertainty like the words, “I’m not sure” and “I haven’t decided that yet”. Take the time to detail as much as possible—from start to finish—prior to making any phone calls or trips to the Post Office. With younger children, unless the parent is already comfortable with you, it’s also good to include a schedule of events with the invite.
For parents whom you’ve never met, offer to set up a date prior to the party where the two of you can meet face-to-face and discuss any concerns/questions
Just because your children are/were classmates doesn’t mean that the parent is acquainted with you–or even knows what you look like. If unsure, state on the invite that you’ll be happy to meet with parents beforehand. If it’s a sleepover, offer to meet at your home so that the parents can tour. It will certainly ease any reservations.
If something changes with the party, use at least 2 different methods for notification
Leaving it up to your child to “pass the word” simply doesn’t cut it. Call parents directly, ensuring that you talk to someone-not just leave a message. Also, do a follow-up with an email. Never entrust this crucial information to a young child–it will either get delivered wrong or in our case, not delivered at all.
In all of my years of parenting, I can honestly say that this was indeed a first-time experience. Going through the hassles of that evening definitely made me appreciate the art of planning, organization, and communication more than ever before. It was certainly something that I’ll never forget (in a not-so-positive way)!
Have you ever had a unique child’s birthday party experience? ~Share with me in the comments below or tell me about it at: email@example.com