August 4, 2005

Strategies toward childfree gatherings

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at August 4, 2005 4:48 PM

I don't normally read Slate's advice column, but the headline caught my attention this week. The first letter is 90% a defense of the author's aversion to children, and 10% about her actual problem, which is that she tells people not to bring their kids to her parties and they bring them anyway: For example, last time I had a BBQ at home, I said "no kids" on the invitation. But some people did bring their kids.

There's nothing wrong with defending your childfree lifestyle, but all that is unnecessary; there's absolutely no reason why she should have to justify not wanting kids at her parties. The simple fact is that the presence of children changes the atmosphere at a social gathering, and regardless of whether one likes kids as a general rule, when hosting a party one has a certain ambience in mind which might not allow for children to be running around underfoot. So there's no need for the writer of the letter to be so defensive about it.

Prudence's response is typically lame; if the parents ignored the instructions on the invitations they're probably also going to ignore what you tell them on the phone. What you really have to do is deter them from bringing kids. The easiest way is to make the party totally inappropriate for children. When the minivan pulls up to see that you are projecting hardcore pornography onto the screen you've set up in the backyard, you can bet they'll take the kids home. Instead of putting "no kids" on the invitation, note that "prizes will be awarded for the best telling of The Aristocrats". You get the idea. As a side effect your parties will become much more popular.

A disclaimer like "Due to state and federal regulations, no one under 21 will be admitted" may be effective, but your guests will then be expecting something special and you will have to be sure not to disappoint them.

Tags: Life

One could also have an appropriate reputation to avoid having kids at one parties. ("No, Junior. Don't open up that _Book of Vile Darkness_... Damn. Now look what ideas he's going to get!")

Sorry to repeat a story, but... one of my friend's kids (around 10 years old) a couple years ago was given an A+ on a story he wrote. He also got a comment on the order of 'Very good but very disturbing' (or something equivalent; I don't remember the precise wording). This is almost an exact parallel of the kind of stuff I traditionally got on the stories I wrote for school. Naturally, my friend and his wife placed the blame squarely on my shoulders... I was justifiably proud of myself.

But a couple of my other colleagues basically shunned me after this. Damn puritans. :) At least they'll never bring their kids to my parties...

Posted by: Mason | August 4, 2005 7:17 PM

My solution: don't have friends with children.

Posted by: Wren | August 4, 2005 9:55 PM

There are a few other variants you might try as alternatives on your invitations. Not guaranteed to keep the kids away, but if they don't, at least it'll be a hoot.

"Don't bring any kids that you still love."

"No kids unless they can hold their liqour."

Posted by: Lemming | August 5, 2005 1:35 PM
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