Strange mix of birthday guests
August 19, 2018 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Our daughter is turning one next week. While a first birthday doesn't necessarily call for a full-blown birthday party, we taught it would be nice to honor the day by inviting a few friends and family for a small celebration. Now a really strange mix of guests rsvped and I am unsure how to proceed.

The idea was to meet in the park (we live in the city) for casual cupcakes and coffee from the thermos while the kids play on pick nick blankets and chase after bubbles. My main intention was to invite moms and their same-age babies that we had spent a lot of time with during the first year. We also invited a few friends with toddler-age kids and two grandparents.

Now the following happened: NONE of our daughter's "baby-friends" and their moms/parents are free that Saturday. Instead I only received the following positive RSVPs:
- among the friends with toddlers, only the dads are free , so two of them want tome come with their kids
- grandma (divorced)
- grandpa with the 4 year old from his second marriage (touchy topic for grandma...)
- a female colleague with a newborn that I invited on a whim when we met on the street that doesn't speak our native language and doens't know anyone rom the group

This is such a strange mix of people and such a small group overall. What have I done?! I am afraid the event will be very awkward and also very non-first-birthday-like. Can I / should I call this off with some made-up excuse? Do I worry over nothing? Please help me out.
posted by Fallbala to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I’d just call it off if it were me. Say your daughter stopped sleeping again and you’ll reschedule when you’re all feeling up to it.
posted by bleep at 10:00 AM on August 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'd feel more responsibility for a weird mix of people if it were an indoor event, or something where everyone had to stay for the duration. Since it's an outdoor thing in a park, it'd be pretty easy for people to stop by, stay for a bit and have a cupcake, and leave if they feel uncomfortable.
posted by ITheCosmos at 10:06 AM on August 19, 2018 [27 favorites]

I’d go ahead and enjoy what you’ve got three tots and a four year old, which is a great party for that age and will give the adults plenty to chase. If grandma is flexible, invite her for supper later in the day to kill the awkward.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:11 AM on August 19, 2018 [35 favorites]

Parties with a weird mix of people can be delightful, and especially people of different ages - it's nice to get a range of views and life experiences together, you may be surprised at they way your different friends take to each other. They all like you, so they have that in common, right? Picnic in the park parties are fun and casual, tell everyone to bring their own blanket so you guys can spread out a bit and you'll be fine. Do give grandma the heads up though, and an alternate time that she can hang out with you and the baby if she chooses.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:31 AM on August 19, 2018 [20 favorites]

ooh also - bring bubbles! and if you're feeling like creating a little chaos, squirt guns
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:34 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

1. Have you followed up with any of the people who haven’t responded? It hasn’t become more and more of an (unfortunate) norm for people to never formally respond/RSVP to an event that they actually have every intention of attending. I have seen this everywhere from semi casual events to very formal weddings where RSVPs are critical. Maybe reach out to anyone who hasn’t responded, and ask if they’re coming?

2. If the above isn’t applicable or you prefer not to follow up with folks, and you want the internet’s permission, you totally have the internet’s permission to cancel this event or reschedule it for a later date. If you already feel like it’s going to be awkward, there is no need to put yourself through this. Agree with bleep’s suggestion to just say the baby isn’t sleeping again and you need to focus on that.

3. If you reschedule, I’d first take a survey of available dates from who you want to be there (so you can avoid the risk of this happening a second time).

4. Look at the weather forecast. Any chance it’s going to rain that day? That’s another good excuse to call it off or reschedule.

5. If it matters or is a concern: It is totally okay to have this at a later date that isn’t the same day or week as your child’s birthday. They are turning 1, not 5 or 12 or another age where they’re old enough to realize and possibly be upset/cranky they aren’t having their birthday celebration “on time”.

6. I just attended my friend’s baby’s first birthday last week, which was also at a park but got moved to an indoor event space onsite because of the heat and humidity that day. It, too, was an odd mix of people. While I didn’t know anyone else there because our mutual friends weren’t able to make it, I didn’t mind getting to know some of the other folks. However, it’s also part of the reason I bounced after about an hour- I played with the baby, chatted up my friend for 20 minutes, made small talk another 20 minutes and was out. I guess my point is: it may not be as awkward for everyone as you think; the reality usually tends to be closer to somewhere in the middle of whatever two extreme outcomes may be imagined.
posted by nightrecordings at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Grandparents and friends with kids? Sounds like pretty much every kids birthday we had between the ages 1 and 3.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2018 [19 favorites]

There is nothing out of the ordinary with the mix of people you have. It is small, casual, and it is a nice get-together. I have been to those kinds of affairs, and they are pleasant.

It would be nice to keep your word, and let a party take its natural course. With so much over-processed choreographed affairs with people trying way too hard, it sounds like you have the basis for a nice and organic diversion.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2018 [18 favorites]

Gah, typo. That should have said “It HAS become more and more of an (unfortunate) norm for people to never formally respond/RSVP to an event that they actually have every intention of attending.”
posted by nightrecordings at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2018

Oftentimes, people feel weird with dads at these things, so then dads don't get invited, so we continue to feel weird about the dads bringing out the kids. If nothing else, the two dads might hit it off if they don't already know each other, right? I'd keep the event and have a good time. :)
posted by joycehealy at 10:45 AM on August 19, 2018 [18 favorites]

One thing to keep in mind: all the folks who are bringing kids may have last minute complications that prevent them from coming so even if you plan on a certain mix, that might not be the mix you will get. Will you be able to enjoy yourself with any configuration of guests you’ve invited? As noted above, I’ve also had people show you didn’t RSVP.

It’s ok to cancel tho. I would certainly understand/believe almost any reason a baby/toddler’s party got cancelled.
posted by CMcG at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Parties with a weird mix of people can be delightful,

Seconding this. And if only a couple people show? You had a nice small gathering in the park. It’s only awkward if you make it be. Be warm and thankful people came, eat some cake, and store away a unique memory.

Or cancel if you want. But if I canceled every event that I thought was going to be disappointing, I never would leave my house.
posted by greermahoney at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2018 [11 favorites]

I mean, it‘s not going to be a „THIS IS BABY‘S FIRST BIRTHDAY“ instagrammable party (probably). But it is going to be very typical of the parties to come as your kid grows up: chaotic get togethers of whatever parents managed to get their shit together, random food offerings, frazzled attendees chasing down their kids, someone gets hurt, someone poops in a very bad place, there is yelling...
I mean, maybe my cohort is nuts, but we had those sorts of parties for years.
And the thing is, everyone will be so happy to be out of the house and chatting and able to nibble a few pretzels, a cheese string and some watermelon. It‘s going to be fine!
My kids are 4 and 7 and I have some very happy memories of park parties!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:45 PM on August 19, 2018 [12 favorites]

I came back to say I mentioned this question to my husband and we both went AUGUST BABIES. We have one. One year we invited 25 kids (his class) and got...2. The next year we invited 25 kids and got...27 (siblings and a house guest, minus two kids. It's not you, it's August. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 2:14 PM on August 19, 2018

Awkward weird mixes happen a lot with kids--there's so many social events that are technically voluntary but really feel 'involuntary'.

Are you asking permission to cancel or go ahead and do it? Either one is totally okay. Do the thing that's easiest and happiest for you. Your one-year-old is mainly happiest when you are happiest.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:30 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's okay to cancel. You can say "something came up" early or you can say "kiddo isn't feeling good" late, depending on who you are canceling with. Everyone who is a parent will be understanding and won't fault you. Only the gparents are likely to be hurt but you can set up individual visits, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday.
posted by vignettist at 4:36 PM on August 19, 2018

I don't see anything even slightly weird here. 1-year-olds don't actually care about hanging out with other babies; if anything they're usually more interested in playing with older people. I'm also not sure what you mean by "non-first-birthday-like," since in my experience first birthdays usually aren't like anything in particular and very often involve, say, a bunch of the parents' adult friends meeting up at a restaurant that has an app the kid likes to snack on. And there's definitely nothing strange about toddlers coming with their dads! This is a perfectly lovely party and you should enjoy it.
posted by waffleriot at 5:01 PM on August 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

There's no shame in cancelling but I'll echo the other parents here, you're gonna end up with a lot of weird birthday parties in the future so if I were you I'd just go for it. Or just have more than one birthday - we do that all the time to keep various family and friends (and ourselves) happy. A friend of mine ends up with every single birthday party for her kids being weird and/or awkward. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm kind of awkward (I'm seriously not kidding). Yet that never stops her from organizing a party for each of them every year.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:04 PM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

« Older Help me find this jacket please!   |   Money can be exchanged for goods and services (but... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.