Kids party, can I ask the parents to pay their own way?

Or, there’s no good way out of this, is there?

I’m planning a paintball party for my late elementary school aged son. He wants to invite seven friends, and I have talked with the parents of five of the boys. Of course it was only after I talked to the parents that it dawned on me that, being the host, I would need to pay for the parents as well. :smack:

Is there any reasonable way out of this? As I see it, my options are as follows:

  1. Add a line to the invitation requesting that the parents pay their own way.
  2. Limit the party to the five boys already invited and plan to pay for one parent each.
  3. Cut costs by paying for the paintball gun rental and the first round of paintballs; the parents can pay for the second round.
  4. Grin, bear it and pony up.

Number four is the only option at this point, right?

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the parents to pay for themselves if they want to play - it’s not like they have to be at the party, the kids are old enough to be left on their own, aren’t they?

So late elementary school, this is a party for 6th graders then? Why would the parents even be invited?

On the other hand, paintball, kick ass! I’d go if I were a parent of one of those kids.

But the way I see it, this a party for your son and his friends. If the parents want to attend and if they want to play (two big ifs when it comes to paintball), they can pay there own way. Frankly, any parent that needs to be told, this party is for the kids and I’m not paying for you, is likely too stupid to handle a paintball gun safely.

Normally I’d expect parents of kids over, say, 5 or 6 to just drop the kid off and go have some nice quiet time without them for a couple of hours. But the location of the paintball may be an issue - is it a long way away so they have no real alternative but to hang around twiddling their thumbs till it’s pickup time again?

One possibility if you have or have access to a couple of large cars - you could offer to drive all the kids from your house - maybe with the help of one selected parent willing to do you a favour? Then you definitely wouldn’t have to pay for the rest of the parents because they wouldn’t be there.

If you’re actually expecting all the parents to hang around to keep their little hellio…um, balls of energy in line, then yep, no way out of paying for them to have a go to, I think.

I’m thinking back - all the parties we had for our daughter and the parents of her friends never hung around. And all the parties she attended, we never hung around either.

Do parents really go to their kids’ parties?? :confused:

This. I’ve encountered this issue, and it stinks not to have a big old 8 passenger van In whick I can haul around the kids and their friends. I actually did rent a van for a kids birthday party so i could take all the kids out to movies/museum/pizza.

So if I expected some parents to go out of their way and spend/waste their time so their son could attend a party, it would be really cool to have refreshments or something to offer the adults. I think paying their way into paintball is not expected, but invite the P’s to stay for pizza/pop or whatever

On the invitations, it would be tacky to come out and say “kids free! Parents pay!” but maybe some diplomatic wording could help. This is just off the top of my head, so it might need some tweaking, but perhaps “Free paintball for the kids. Parents are welcome to stay and play; information on equipment rental for parents can be found at xyzwebsite” You’re not coming right out any using words like “cost” and “pay” but it’s implied.

Then again, if your son has friends whose parents are boxes of rocks, you might have an issue.

The invitation is to the kids, not the kid and the parents. The parents should not have an expectation that if they wish to stay for paintball that there fees would be paid for.

Elementary kids playing paintball seems like a bad idea to me. Every place I’ve played at required you to sign a waiver of sorts and I can’t imagine a business that has any interest in covering its own ass letting a bunch of kids without permission from their parents.

Etiquette dictates an actual party (as opposed to a paint party or a barn raising party :)) that the host pays.

Otherwise it is a “get together.” Parents should offer to pay their own costs, but if they don’t be prepared to fork over. If you can’t afford to do this, what you need to do is some diplomatic manuevering.

For instance, you call up each parent and say, “Since I’ll be taking your child with me, I just wanted to make sure he actually had permission to come with me.” The you indicate that YOU (or you and a friend/spouse/relation) will be taking the kid and the parent will not have to come with.

If the parent says “Oh I can drive my kid,” you come back with, "Oh that’s OK, it would be so boring for you to have to sit around for hours, this way you got the day to enjoy yourself.

Try this wording. “You can drop Johnny off at 3 o’clock, and I think we’ll be back by 6, so you can pick him up then.” This implies as strongly as possibly that you don’t expect or want the parents to stay.

Done the same thing before. Paintball can be expensive when you start adding people. You will absolutely need to buy more balls before the day is over and that will add to the cost. What we did in a similar situation was pay for the guns and balls for the kids then, when the balls ran out half way through the day we passed the hat to buy a full box of ammo.

Really, parents should know how this stuff works by the time their kids hit 1st grade. Whether the group goes to paintball, Chuck-E-cheese or just a movie the story is always the same. The child is invited, the parent isn’t. If the parent has, or wants, to drive the child to the venue then he or she may hang around but to expect to be included in the for-pay activity is too much. Once or twice we have paid for a nervous-nelly parent who just couldn’t leave her child’s side while he played lazer tag and who also couldn’t figure out that a child’s party is for children, but in general, through dozens of birthday parties, most parents have managed to figure it out.

I would never expect a host to pay my way at a kids party. If the activity looked fun enough for me to want to join in, I’d pay my own way. Unless you’ve been billing it as a “kids & parents paintball party” from the beginning.

You have checked with the paintball place to see what they’ll need in terms of permission/liability forms from the parents, haven’t you? Every place my kids go to for a party with any sort of physical activity requires a liability waiver.

Thanks. I’m using “Parents, please stay and play. Information on equipment rental for parents can be found at (website)”, which is an almost direct copy of your wording. I’ll probably also call around with an apology and explanation (“never explain” be damned.) Thanks to everyone here.

It’s tough; our neighborhood is diverse and the families tend to young or young at heart. We may be more kid-oriented than other areas (for example, the elementary school’s big fundraiser is a rock concert with major local acts.) I fully expect that a lot of the parents will want to join in, but that could easily double the cost of the afternoon if I paid for them as well.

Do NOT apologize.

First of all, everyone will think you’re nuts.

Second–and this is far more important–it makes it seem like you might expect that YOU should be included in future children’s parties!

One thing to consider about paintball is the much higher perceived likelihood of an injury. This makes it more likely that the parents will be interested in attending. I think for something like this I would simply inquire of the parents when they RSVP’ed to see if they were planning to come, and if so, to participate in the paintballing.

Wording to the effect of “Please join us for __” generally implies that the pleasure is all yours, as such you’ll be hosting/paying. Particularly so when it’s written on a paper invitation. I know that in practice there are exceptions (ex: the restaurant birthday dinner where everyone pays their own way) but in those cases it’s usually established routine in that circle of friends. So IF this is not standard in your kids’ school (please note I said IF) then “Please stay and play” may be confusing to the parents. Perhaps you’re better off saying explicitly what you said here: Kids are your treat, but parents who want to rent a gun and paintballs are more than welcome to join in the fun.

missed edit: sorry, I basically just repeated Serenata67 in my last post. but i my point was that something like ‘you’re welcome to join us’ is subtlety different than ‘please stay’ – i had a similar wording problem recently for a shower, that’s how I dealt with it.

This. Asking the parents to 'please stay and play???" What in the world is this? Your OP doesn’t sound like you’re too clear yourself. You are inviting the parents. You don’t invite somebody without paying, in the normal world. Change ‘please stay and play’ to 'Parents welcome…" etc…
You are sending mixed messages.


I don’t think the OP has anything to worry about.

I would be surprized if even a single parent shows up expecting to be paid for. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of the parents will at least offer to pay for their own kid. (I know I would.)