Thoughtful Thursday: Guest List

August 29, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayBurrito and Tamale’s 4th (!!) birthday is coming up. We’d planned a party with their two closest friends at one of their favorite places, where we go all the time but neither of these kids has ever been. Eve from the previous post, and a little boy, let’s call him Adam. Both of those kids have been in school with B&T since they were barely 2. We have gone on multiple outings with each of them and their parents. Burrito can get overwhelmed when there are too many people, or when there are people he doesn’t know well, so two kids (with a total of 6 guests counting their parents) seemed very reasonable.

Except that Burrito keeps inviting other kids from school. Every day, I’m greeted with a new request, or, worse, notification that he has extended an invitation. “I want to invite Cain to my party.” “Abel has never been there before!” “Seth is excited to have a cupcake at my party.”

I know exactly where he gets it — definitely not from me. His father’s birthday is coming up too, and I can’t even fathom the guest list. He has plans with some buddies for the night before, and the #1 buddy asked him who else he should invite. DH answered, “I dunno, go ahead and invite everybody.” Everybody. There might very well be 20, 30, 40 people, and he’s perfectly happy with that. Conversely, I have not wanted more than 3 people for my birthday since I was in high school.

It’s not just an introvert-extravert thing, though that’s part of it. This “the more the merrier” philosophy seems to go beyond mere extraversion. We have been to the weddings of many extraverts, but there was only one where the groom kept adding people on at the last minute. Three different people were suddenly coming to town — none of them close friends of the happy couple (a friend’s brother, a high school classmate, and a sorta-friend who went to a rival high school), and the groom invited each of them to not only drop by but to attend the entire wedding. Seating charts and head counts be damned, he’d make room for them.

Ironically, that groom was an add-on to my own wedding guest list. One of DH’s friends (previously mentioned on the blog as That Guy) didn’t want to make the 10-hour drive to our wedding alone, so he asked if we could invite this future inclusive groom — who had gone to elementary and high school with DH and they had many close mutual friends, but they hadn’t been close friends since 5th grade. We’re not talking hundreds of people like the inclusive groom’s wedding; this addition raised our head count from 45 to 46. Then, the driving plans changed and the additional guy was going to drive with a different guest. That Guy was once again driving alone. So, he asked us to invite three, yes three, more people: a guy we’d never met who happened to have a car, and two girls with whom they hoped to hook up, who would provide sufficient motivation for the car guy to make a weekend trip to the wedding of people he’d never met. DH and I put our collective foot down. I told him that it was a wedding, not a BBQ. (Note: The previous year, we’d had a BBQ, and That Guy had brought along 5 people we didn’t know, bringing the total head count to 12.) I told him that he was trying to add 4 extra people, the same number of family members I had coming to my wedding. I told him that I was not going to hand-calligraph placecards for people whose names I didn’t know.

Which brings us back to the 4th birthday party. I originally set the guest list at two because it seemed like the best thing for Burrito’s enjoyment (Tamale would be happy with 2 or 20). But, I am resisting expanding beyond two despite Burrito’s repeated requests for selfish reasons: instead of dollar store crap, the party favors I’ve chosen have to be custom ordered weeks in advance (trains where each car is a letter of the kid’s name). I can’t keep adding to the order every day, and I don’t want to switch to different party favors. If Burrito keeps taking after his father, though, in future years I may have to forgo the elegant hand-crafted party favors and settle for the bulk bin. And I might even have to spend the party talking to parents that I don’t already know well and, who knows, make a new friend or two. Who I might then have to invite to my own birthday party.

How inclusive are you when constructing a guest list?

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7 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Guest List”

  1. strongblonde Says:

    very timely. my kids turn four next month. our parties in the past have been just family. and even then i’d prefer not to have these people over. this year, T has been inviting EVERYONE. kids from class, neighbors, random strangers at the grocery store or playground. i know that we should invite some kids from school….but i don’t want to get crazy about it. i’d like them all just to play in the yard. but the parties we have been to include rented bounce houses, hired bands, or back yards converted to mickey mouse club house. i’d decided that i might try to organize some sort of a scavenger hunt (since we have a huge yard), but even that seemed to be pushing it for me! a competing factor (or complicating factor) is that it is during football season and we live in a big football town…so there is always a problem with game WEEKEND traffic!

    then there’s the problem of the parents! okay, fine, a few extra kids playing is not really a big deal. especially if weather is okay and they can just eat outside….but how many parents trust me enough (especially when they don’t know me) to drop their kids off and leave and not come back till the end? or, alternatively, how do i stop my like-minded liberal friends from engaging my ultra conservative dad in a conversation on gun control?

    ultimately, i keep most guest lists SIMPLE and EXCLUSIVE. and that is mainly to maintain my OWN sanity!!!

    if you have any advice, I’d love to hear it!

  2. Elana Kahn Says:

    I like to be pretty inclusive, but with a limit. If the place I’m having the party says 15 kids, then I’ll try to invite just about 15 kids – if I know that many! lol The twins 4th birthday party was a bust because they got sick that morning, though they weren’t acting it at all and I probably shouldn’t have called all the parents to tell them. Only one of their friends showed up, which made me sad, but the twins didn’t even notice. Next year we’ll have too many people to choose from because they’re in separate pre-k classes. I don’t even want to know how many kids are in each because it would probably make me feel sick. 🙂

  3. Cat Says:

    I’m pretty inclusive, but last minute additions would stress me out. Especially for a wedding! Good lord! I get things all set in my head of how it’s going to be and once that happens, I don’t handle changes well.

  4. St. Elsewhere Says:

    My parents paid for and hosted my wedding. I was allowed to add my list to the bulky list of invitees, and my parents were generous in accommodate them all.

    The kid’s first birthday party was a very closed affair, with only immediate family attending it. But we are considering throwing a bigger party on her second birthday.

    Over the years we have been invited to different dos, and even to birthday parties of children, when we had no kids to take to these parties.

    Most of those people will be in our list of invitees. I want to have a smaller thing at her daycare because that is a trend there, and I won’t be able to call everyone from there to our party. So rather than calling some kids and leaving the rest, I would rather have a cake and snacks thing there itself.

    The rest of the list is still under construction.

    Fourth birthday? I remember your bed-rest posts like yesterday. Four years is a long long time.

  5. Sara Says:

    I was pretty inclusive at our wedding — I wanted friends and family to be there to help us celebrate. We invited around 150, I think around 100-110 came (including my childhood Sunday school teacher and his wife whom I hadn’t seen since I was 10 and it was GREAT).

    When I was growing up, my mom limited birthday party attendance to as many guests I was in years. This always seemed eminently sensible to me, though of course by the time I hit 12/13, I didn’t exactly have 12-13 friends I wanted to invite, and so they ended up being closer to 5-6 people.

  6. a Says:

    We are extremely exclusive. My husband and I invited no one to our wedding – it was just us. My daughter, on the other hand, wants approximately 1000 people at her birthday parties. She has had rather large parties in the past, but I think this year, it will be limited. It stresses me out too much, because the kids at school are completely non-responsive. I don’t want her feelings to be hurt if no one shows up. So, I’m trying to think of something small and personal that she could do with a few of her friends. I hate this stuff. 😦


  7. Depends. If I know *I* am limited — by time, $$, patience, space — I go quite small. Without limits, though, we’ve been known to throw “the more the merrier” parties.

    You’ll be invited to the next one 🙂


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