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Oct 24, 2010 05:59 PM

Etiquette for "adults only" invitation and host's child(ren)

What is the etiquette surrounding an “adults only” invitation to a party and attendance of the host’s child(ren)? I recently attended a baby shower for which the invitation specifically stated “adults only”. When I arrived, I was surprised to find not only the host’s five-year-old daughter in attendance but also a friend of hers. Is that the accepted thing these days? To exclude your guests’ children but include your own plus a friend? It wasn’t a huge deal because it was only a baby shower, but I have to admit, I was looking forward to a few child-free hours with friends, plus it felt very exclusive to me. Additionally, I’m planning to have my own “adults only” party soon and am wondering what to do about my own young child. (We don’t have any close relatives around to ship him off to for the evening.)

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  1. I would not expect that a host would necessarily exclude her own children from a party that does not include her guests kids. I also would not expect that she would exclude all children, because there do tend to be exceptions. It is not bad form to invite adults to an event but include a few children but there is certainly some sort of line you would not want to cross. If anywhere near a third of guests' children were invited I think the host should go ahead and include all children.

    For your party, I think you will enjoy it most if you hire a sitter to stay with your child upstairs. You might dismiss her once the child has been soundly sleeping for an hour or so but just having someone there so that you are free to enjoy your guests will be enjoyable.

    1. Disclaimer: I do not have children.

      If I was invited to an "adult only" party, I would assume adult beverages are being served and babysitters are not availaible.

      I would arrange a babysitter and go. Or, if not familiar enough with friends\neighbors, refuse and stay home with the baby. Unfortunately, civilaziton has a very real price.

      I guess that's why we have all moved together after scattering to the coasts.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gaffk

        Thanks for your response, but my question is not about bringing my own child to a party designated as "Adults only". I would never dream of doing that. If you re-read my post, you'll see I am asking about what is the proper etiquette of somebody with their own children who is hosting a party deemed "Adults only".

        Kater -Your suggestion for me to hire a babysitter for my child at my party is basically what I was thinking, as much for my own sanity as for my guests'! I guess I was just considering that, well, if these other friends could "get away with" having their child attend their "Adults only" party, maybe I could do the same thing merely to save on expenses. Plus it just didn't seem quite fair for them to do that. Maybe I'm just behind the times.....

      2. I think it's a bit much to expect that the host won't have her own children in the house at the time of an event. Not everyone has friends/family members who will be willing to watch children in their own house and/or have them stay overnight if the event will be ending way after the children are asleep. Until my grandparents moved to my hometown when I was 8, I think I was almost always home when my parents hosted events. I went to bed fairly early and they could either start after I was asleep or have someone watch me until I went to bed.

        I imagine that in the case of the baby shower, the hostess invited one friend so her daughter wouldn't be bored to tears the whole time. I was at a restaurant a few months ago where women were having a shower and there was one lone child who looked 3-4 who had to amuse herself by playing with the wrapping paper. I thought she'd be much happier having a friend with her.

        1. This could be the scenario queencru suggested, but if that were the case, I'd expect that the kids would be off elsewhere in the house playing, not right there at the party.

          1. when I was young and when my kids were young there were dinners at our house and unless they were family occasions, neither myself and my siblings nor my kids hung around the adults.

            Kids can come and say good evening and have a quick conversation and then go and do their own thing until bedtime. If it took either my husband or myself to take them up to bed and supervise teeth and lights then for a few minutes one of us would absent ourselves. Anyway, we usually invited guests about 8pm which meant the children had already gone to bed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: smartie

              Meanwhile, my parents hosted a lot of dinners when I was growing up, and my brother and I always had to participate. To be honest, it really sucked -- our parents couldn't pay attention to us, the conversation was always about stuff we didn't care or know about, and we were stuck making nice instead of going off to play or read or whatever.

              In retrospect, I wish it had been 50/50 in terms of making us take part in those dinners. It's nice to be included and feel mature, but at the same time, grown-up dinners can be really boring.

              On a side note, we often had big, open house parties that we loved to attend and help out with. It's different in those cases, because you can walk around and it's way more casual. Plus, it teaches you to be a good host.