Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kids Are Not Invited

Dear SG:
We are having a big Christmas party, this year with my father as co-host. I chose an invite with a deliberately grown up design--no dancing santas or gingerbread men, set the party for cocktail hour and am still innundated with: can our kids come? In my parents generation NO ONE would have assumed that children are always welcome. What happened? I would love to welcome kids, but we are on a budget, my father is old school and frail, and I don't want the house turned into a romper room. Do I need to send out an email announcement?

Grace Says:

First of all, kudos to you for hosting! I'm sure your party will be fabulous, once we tackle this thorny problem....

Your letter brings back a painful memory for me along these very lines. Two years ago when the economy was just starting to tank, we noticed a glaring lack of holiday invitations--seemed that everyone was scaling back in preparation for the tough times ahead (prescient of them, huh?). The celebrations were few and far between. In response to the troubling trend, we decided to throw a nice but also budget-sensitive holiday party. It was last minute, so we used e-vitations to save time, money and trees. We, too, believed our invitation to be crystal clear as an adult gathering, down to the "heavy cocktails and light supper" description of the evening, but were similarly dismayed as we received requests to bring Juniors. Rather than risk a trickle of these inquiries arriving in my inbox each day, or worse, the hideous possibility that guests might not ask, but just bring their tiny tots to my elegant soiree, I sent out an e-blast to everyone.

This was a wrench because I loathe unnecessary email and strenuously avoid clogging up inboxes, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I worded the follow-up thus:

My apologies for sending another missive about our upcoming soiree, but I seem to have erred in my first draft. I neglected to clarify that this is a grown-up party. We will look forward to celebrating the holidays with children--ours and many of yours--at another time during the season, but for this one evening, we can all enjoy being kid-free. Sorry for any confusion, and we'll see you on the 17th!

I recommend the same remedy for you in your current situation. Note that you are taking the blame for this confusion, even though the ridiculous assumption of others is not your fault. By using this tack, you are letting your child bearing guests off the hook for being presumptuous. (The way of the Grace is not always easy or fair, but the high road is a better place to travel, I promise.) While the e-blast is not ideal, it will work, and in all things I advise Safety First.

In speaking of assumptions, I couldn't resist sharing Benny Hill's take on the practice:

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