Birthday party preparation etiquette

Here’s how it is:

You’re 18 years old, living with your single mother and two younger siblings. Your birthday’s approaching, and your mother invites your co-workers & classmates for a party. It’s a good-sized gathering–over twenty people–and will be held in your family’s back yard. Your mother does the majority of the cooking (except for a cake she recruits a friend of hers to bake) and recruits the younger siblings to do the decorations. She tells you you needn’t do a thing to help, either in the preparation or cleanup, as this is your day.

Do you listen to her, or do you give a helping hand anyway? Why or why not?

If it was made clear I was to have nothing to do with the prep, I’d make sure to clean up afterward.

IMHO, you make a couple of sincere offers to help with this task or that. If she still insists that you take it easy, you relent – and do something nice for her later (posies or dinner) to thank her.

I would try to get involved in some of the more “fun” tasks, like decorating or something. Is all the preparation in one day? If it is absolutely insisted that I help with nothing, I would probably stay near my mom and talk to her as she did the work.

And i wouldn’t go with the posies unless you really want to…but you’re good with words, [BSkald**, and I would go with a letter telling her how much you appreciate the party, and how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you.

I want the people to leave the party to me when I decide to entertain. Your doing it because you want to and you know if you can handle it or not. I find it rude when I plan and prepare everything needed and then somebody brings another cake just in case you screwed up. Let her do it, lay back and enjoy. You can be just as insistant, with a party for her later.

Sit down, shut up and be grateful.

Want to help?

  • Over 20 people are coming over. Clean the bathroom(s) before they arrive and after they leave.
  • Over 20 people are going to be tracking from your back yard to your bathroom. Police the area. Put away all loose items. Make sure mail and other personal papers are not left lying around. Throw out the trash. If your younger siblings are still playing with toys, make sure they are put away, or at least behind closed doors. Don’t leave anything out that could be pocketed, like a Gameboy or PSP or iPod. Make sure as much as possible is put neatly where it belongs.

In both cases, neither ask permission, nor seek acknowledgement (i.e Lookee at what I did, Mom!). Just do it.

I feel obliged to point out that I am not facing this quandary, being neither female nor 18 nor the eldest child of a single mother.

Well, if you’re not female and 18, we’ve got nothing further to talk about. :cool:

Now that we’ve established that D_Odds is going to hell …

So…who are you asking for?
(I was wondering, too, as I saw this before I got your e-mail and was thinking - he’s 18???)

I can’t imagine not helping unless I had been actually “evicted” from the house during preparation and cleanup. (e.g., “Go pick up the cake from ______'s house,” or “Oh, no, don’t worry about cleanup. ______ needs a ride home. Why don’t you drive, here are the keys.” or “I called your friends to come early and you can take a walk around the neighborhood, showing them the sights.”)

But if everyone else was doing the scurrying around before or after the party trying to get the house ready or recover it from the party, it would be quite awkward just sitting on one’s ass.

On the flip side, though, they may want the person-who-is-not-Skald to sit back and wait until not-Skald can come out and be bowled over by the decorations and spread. If not-Skald is milling about looking it’s not as much fun to Reveal it! And if it was all their idea, they are responsible for it.

Lay back and enjoy it.

I couldn’t do it. I’d have to help out. There’d probably end up being an argument because I wouldn’t be able to sit on my butt and watch others work for me. I’m not sure why, but I feel a little guilty when others are working and I’m not, even if it’s for my party. Unless I got booted from the house, I’d be tidying and organizing behind Mom’s back.

But then, I’m the kind of person who invites friends over to dinner at my place for my birthday. So maybe I’m wired backwards.

I was gathering support for a chewing out of a young friend, who let his mother throw her back out getting ready for his party. I have decided, however, that it will be simpler just to smack him around.

Smack away, my friend. Smack away.
: goes off grumbling about kids these days :

I have to say, in my family we are pretty literal. So if I were told not to help, I would consider that part of my present, and would sit back and enjoy. As in, we couldn’t get you a pony, so we’re throwing you this party instead :slight_smile:

If that’s not the case in the family in question, yes, the young person needs to pitch in, but also the mom should communicate more directly. None of this “Oh, no, really, it’s nothing” passive-aggressive communication so many moms are famous for. Only leads to grief.

Heh. My friend just retold the story about how she told her new husband that no, she didn’t want any gifts for Christmas.
Poor slob took her at her word. :smack:

and no, I don’t agree with her tactic; I’ve sworn not to pull that crap anymore.

Heh. One year early in our marriage, Mr. S and I agreed that we would get each other only token gifts for Christmas.

I got him a bag of York peppermint patties (his favorite).

He got me a pair of diamond stud earrings. :smack:

(During the last few years when he was basically unemployed and I was supporting us, most of the time he got me nothing for my birthday/Christmas, or maybe a card. That was fine with me, as I knew he had no money! So I guess it’s all evened out. And I’m still wearing the earrings.)