Pay to Play?

This morning I raised a topic on twitter that got several varied responses. 

Wait, do you follow me on Twitter?  You should.  I’m a good time.  But I do like to make fun of people, so if you are sensitive you should probably be warned.  But, please, try not to take anything personally.  I’m almost always not talking about friends or ‘friends’.

Anywho, Regan received a birthday party invitation to the children’s museum in a couple of weeks.  The invitation clearly states that parents will have to pay for their own admission*.  I am put off by this.  How are you going to invite my child to a party and I have to come out the pocket on admission when I already have to pay for a gift?  And don’t forget downtown parking!

My thought is if you want to have your party at one of the popular children’s places around town, pick the one that is not going to cost your guests anything.  There is Gymboree, Music Class, Aquatots.  The possibilities are endless and, quite frankly, more fun and less hassle.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything less fun that I’d want to do on a Saturday.  The Children’s Museum is more like a zoo.  A zoo of wild, uncontrollable toddlers and children.  You couldn’t pay me to be there at prime time on a weekend.  And pay for it?  No, sir!

Thankfully, Regan is out-of-town on the day of the party, so going is not an option.  I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway.  I adore the birthday girl, but I wouldn’t have been willing to spend the $25+ that it would have cost me.  I think I’ll just send a gift to school and call it a wrap.

Okay, good people of blogland, how do you feel about paying to play?  Do you think it’s okay to ask parents to pay their own way at kids’ parties?  Have you/would you do the same?



*I googled the party at the children’s museum and it looks like the party includes 23 guests.  I doubt she is having 23 kids attend, so it looks like she is only expecting certain people to pay.

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24 Responses to Pay to Play?

  1. Petite Pearl says:

    Pay to play is not my style. It bothers me that people invite you to a party/shower where you’re expected to bring a gift and pay for whatever the event involves, whether it be dinner, admission or the activity. Just have a gathering at your home (seems like very few people do this anymore) and let your guest spend the money on your gift.

  2. Ms. Smart says:

    Uncivilized tacky shyt. I was raised that if I invite people to something, I am prepared to pay the bill.

    • BK says:


      and on another note.. if you don’t plan to pay for the parents then just say it’s a kids only party and then arrange for a few other parents to help you chaperone and then say what time the child needs to be picked up. simple.. and at that age.. would the child even enjoy this???

  3. I see nothing wrong with the invite. Birthday parties for kids are for the kids. I’d pay for kids and adults are on their own. I think it’s unreasonable for parents to think I’d foot the bill for everyone. Heck no! As an adult I’ve had bday dinners at restaurants and everyone paid their own way. Surely nobody thought I was taking the bill for everyone.

    Yes there are other options for kid parties that may cost less but that’s the beauty of parenting. Each parent parents however they like. If someone doesn’t like it then they’re free to not come!

    • gnah says:

      Agree with this. Every birthday dinner I’ve attended for a friend, I’ve had to pay for my meal and a portion of theirs. The only time I haven’t paid is if it was an actual party…not just dinner. I see nothing wrong with having parents pay their way for this museum party.

  4. If you are throwing a party you are doing just that and it should be free for your guests. Last year my son wanted to have his party at the pumpkin patch. I went round and round about whether or not we should pay for the pumpkins and how expensive that would be. We ended up finding a pumpkin patch that had a bunch of activities and we ended up having to pay for the children AND their parents to get in and we didn’t cover the pumpkins but everyone understood. My husband said it would be okay for the parents to pay for themselves and I thought that was rude. We came out of pocket $300 but I thought any other way would’ve been tacky just like asking y’all to pay your own entrance to the museum.

  5. pserendipity says:

    Aidan wants to have his next party at the Sports Hall of Fame. There are less expensive options all around, but as his Mom I can decide that he has his party where he wants to. I don’t think I should limit his experience to what someone else wants to pay for. I can absolutely guarantee that I’ll pay for all the kids admission and food for everyone who shows up, but it won’t be “Bring your family to the Sport’s Museum on the Hackett Family” day. I can certainly afford to pay for it, I just won’t. Judge me.

    One of Aidan’s friends had a party at a MS Braves game. I wouldn’t have expected for the little boy’s mom to pay for me to get into a game, nor would I expect her to choose another place for her kid’s party. It was a $50 experience for Aidan (a $25 ticket for me, a $25 gift for the kid), but a good time was had by all. I’ve spent $50 on way more trifling things, and I appreciated not having to sit at somebody’s house and make small talk and eat hotdogs and cupcakes or having to watch him jump in the thousandth jumpy thing in his life. Honestly, I’d rather pay NOT to go to Gymboree, Music Class or Aquatots.

    • But what if a parent can’t afford to attend? Say Aidan’s bestest friend in the world wants to come but his mom can’t afford the price of admission?

      • pserendipity says:

        Well, keeping it all the way real. Aidan’s bestest friend when he was two were kids whose parents I “knew”. I would already know their circumstance, and I would make sure they were there. Here’s the thing: at 2 years old, the people at a kids party are going to be the family, friends of the family, and close friends and their kids. Those are the people I actually care about being there. He’s two. Sure, I’ll send the invite to his preschool class because it’s the polite thing to do. But, if I don’t know your last name and you don’t know mine, do I really care if you come? Nah, your invitation was a courtesy and I’m good if you don’t want to pay the admission. I wasn’t considering you when I planned the party, but if you come I’ll be glad to meet you. He’s seven now. I only remember one person in his preschool class: Lovegirl. And so does he.

        These aren’t lifelong friends, it’s not that serious. Shoot, even at 7, we get invitations to his classroom friends parties. If it’s not a kid he talks about regularly, I throw it in the garbage. Kid’s parties aren’t a priority or really even a second thought. If I don’t know the parent? *shrugs*

  6. discodiva73 says:

    I think if the parents have to attend, then you shouldn’t require them to pay and they should have it somewhere else. To me, you can still take your child to the location…just not require 20 other people to be there!

    I am not even a fan of potlucks. I get it…but think if you want to host something, you should actually host and in my book hosting is having everything there for your guests. Now will I ask to bring something? Of course…because I am a good guest. It goes both ways.

  7. Gladys says:

    I’d have no problem paying for myself. If I had to pay for my child, I’d be put off.

  8. Sherri says:

    If the parent is required to attend, I would cover the cost of the parent. Since toddlers don’t typically go places without their parents, I would expect to pay for all attendees. Older kids are very different. If you were having a day at the game event, I would expect to drop my kid off and pick him up when the party is over. Adults are different also. Getting together to celebrate over dinner is different than having a party.

    **Every venue I’ve checked out for a small child’s charges for kids only. Parents are free.

    • LoriF says:

      This is closest in line with my opinion. It all depends on activity combined with age of children. Since toddlers need their parents, I would expect to pay for parents to attend (or find a toddler activity that won’t charge the parents).

  9. K says:

    I guess if we received such an invitation, I probably wouldn’t think twice about us needing to pay the adult admission. Alternately, I’m not sure I’d personally hold an event where I expected others to pay as I know not everyone’s financial situation could handle it–their desire to attend aside.

  10. _K_Rock_ says:

    While I definitely won’t go as far as to say it’s “tacky” or “uncivilized” (taste is SO relative and no one person dictates it), I personally would not go. But that’s only because I am cheap. It would have to be a very close friend for me to even consider it. But every parent is free to do what they want in the limits of their own personal “tastes”.

  11. dmac1990 says:

    In general, I don’t really mind paying if I want to participate because the host parents have spent far more on the party than I will be spending for admission. Now this particular party sounds a little elitist – $25 for the children’s museum? Really? For a three year old? No way…too many screaming kids running here, there, and yonder.Just like Chuk.e.che.ez. -I would have missed it too if I were you.

  12. Nerd Girl says:

    I agree – either have it somewhere where you don’t have to pay for parents, invite a smaller number of people so you can accommodate (pay for) all of them, or wait until the children are older and don’t require one-on-one adult supervision.

  13. ARGal says:

    Obviously (having no children), I haven’t experienced this but I can’t really find any fault in what the parents did. Granted kids can have fun anywhere but if that’s what my non-existent kid wanted (and if Mistah and I were able to afford it) then hey……. The choice is others to make whether or not they want to attend.

  14. neauxlah says:

    I actually am looking at this completely different. I look at it as an opportunity to do something I probably would have done with my kid anyways.

    It’s one place I can check off that we’ve done and don’t have to do again. (honey we went there last year, remember? Lol)

    So instead of paying for me, her and food etc I just pay my way and everything else (including activities) is covered by someone else. Sounds like a win to me.

  15. Ames says:

    I just asked my nanny to take my kids to breakfast. I gave her $40 and she needed more. When the waitress told me the bill was for 3 meals, I did not have a problem with paying but when I am funding stuff for kids, it doesn’t automatically occur to me to fund working adults. I know my nanny has a job that pays well for the area.

  16. missmajestic says:

    I think it’s tacky. $3-5 adult admission is reasonable. But this isn’t a party that is a meet up. Just like an adult b-day party where every pays for their own meal is a meet up. That is not hosting a party, that is organizing a meet up. If they party included 23 guests and they didn’t want to pay for more, then she should have invited 11 kids and 1 adult for each kid and put that on the invite. To invite more is just looking for more gifts, IMO.

  17. Kimmy says:

    If this were an older child, say 7+, I would make it a drop off party and let the parents know they’d would have to pay if they are staying. I don’t see anything wrong with that. But at this age I wouldn’t want to do drop off. So, I wouldn’t even have it there if I could afford to just pay the cost of admission for everyone, especially if they already have to pay for parking.

    What are your thoughts on getting invited to parties where they only serve food to the kids? I have mixed feelings about this one. It depends on where the party is.

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