The politics of “parties at school” ….

I am dragging this tired old subject out of the cupboard again and re-airing it, so that maybe I can get some consensus on the issue. It is a bit of an awkward one to chat about to the “mommies in the parking lot” group.

In the beginning I got really excited about my kid’s (or kids’) birthdays.  Like psycho excited.

I wanted to throw a humdinger at home or at a venue.  I invited all the kids in the class.  Spent my pension fund money and threw a party that made my head spin. It would usually end with Kennith and I having a “moer” of an argument about two minutes before the guests walk through the door.  Ah the joy.

Most of the kids in Connor’s class would come along and kids in general would have a good time.

That is a party.

Connor changed schools in Grade R mid-year.  At his previous school I never experienced a “school party” – all parties were big things done on weekends.  But in the Boerewors triangle it appeared school parties were the norm.  (maybe it was an area thing, or maybe it was a sign of the times, I am not sure)

My kids are both in schools where “parties at schools” appear to be the way things are done.  Invite gets sent.  But it is not really an invite as there is no RSVP and the party is during school times, so is it a “real” party ?

The first year of “parties at school”, I sent presents for EVERYONE.  If I knew the kid, if I did not know the kid, what ever, I sent a present along.  Made sense, cost a bomb. (2 kids x 25 kids give or take each year …..)

I then decided to throw a “party at school” Connor (or Georgia or both – I can’t remember).  I had no mentor to explain how it worked.  I did invites, and party packs, and balloons and cake …. and a snake show … as you do.  I made almost as much effort for the “class party” as I would for a home party.

Let’s say there were 25 kids in the class.  I catered for each of them individually.  I asked each parent to RSVP so that I could make individual things for each child – most parents didn’t.  I still made individual thingss for each kid.

I noticed that Connor/Georgia probably received presents from 10 kids when it was their “class party…”  Yes, it is not about the presents, but it is a bit. Or that is just me.

The accepted rule of society is “you go to a party you take a present” it is just what is done.

I realised “school parties” are actually not “proper kids parties that appear to fit the norms that kid’s parties stick to…”.  They  fall into the cold hinterland of parties which are not quite parties… people do not rsvp, you do or don’t send a present, and as the party giver appear not to expect one … or do you …. so I am totally confused with the rules.

Georgia gets really upset when she brings me an invite for a “class party” –  she whines and yowls that I must send a present, and gets really upset.

I have started saying “Georgia it is not a real party, it is a party at school …. you do not have to bring a present and if I had a party at school for you, I would not expect presents …..”

I realise I might be standing in the firing line on this issue, but I am seriously over spending a fortune on presents and making an effort for birthday presents for “class parties….” when the entire concept confuses me.

I might be the minority and other moms might think class parties rock the daisies.  I think they are a great solution when you do not want to go through the effort/chaos/expense of a party … and is it the norm not to send presents, and realistically for the child (parents of the child) to not expect presents?

I have had several years of them, and I have still not quite “got the rules” …. maybe you can explain them to me, or you can just let me know what your thoughts are, and then we can see if there is a consensus.

Leave a comment


  1. julie

     /  December 12, 2011

    I spend around R120 per kids and Dylan has 27 kids in his class so I am very happy with their policy.

  2. julie

     /  December 12, 2011

    I really don’t know the rules either. What I do know is that it used to make me really annoyed. I would always send cake, party packs etc not expecting any gifts for Dylan and he got none because I didn’t send an invite. Why send an invite to a school party when the kids have to be there.

    Then I started getting invites to parties at the school. I felt like saying sorry Dylan won’t attend that party and will just sit in the toilet???? Anyway I sent a gift always and it irked me.

    Thankfully his new school have a strict policy. Only cake on the day of the party and that is it. No invites to the school party. The kids who have birthdays in the month have to pay R20 so that the whole school can have a once a month party to celebrate the birthdays. Oh and the kids are make king for the day which is cute.

    So yes I am really anti school parties.

  3. Robyn

     /  December 12, 2011

    The only way I know that there’s been a party at school, is by the party pack that comes home in Liam’s school bag. I’ve never received an invitation for a school party so I never send a gift. I think this works out well; as Charlotte says by sending an invite it’s like you WANT a gift! So I did the same, sent party packs and a cake for Liam’s birthday – although there are only 13 kids in his class. Going forward I think I would just send a cake for them to enjoy. Buying gifts for all and sundry is totally unreasonable I think!

  4. Claire A

     /  December 9, 2011

    I also detest the “school party” and while I do send a gift, it is way cheaper then the gift I would buy if the parent actually puts the effort in. I don’t think it is fair on the child to not get something just cos the mother is lazy / unimaginative.

    But I am lucky as Liam only has about 15 children in his class and only about 7 of them had parties at school
    Brandon’s school does not allow them – you may send cake or a sweet per child on the actual birthday.

  5. Nicole

     /  December 9, 2011

    My son attended lests say creche A when he was one years old and there was a flipping invitation in the bag nearly every second week, i also initially sent gifts etc, but then i decided enough is enough – i cant afford this every month. My son now attends a different creche and through out the year there have been a number of parties (seen the party packs in his bag, his told me, went early to fetch him and there was a party going on etc) and he has not received ONE invitation, the parents are doing it just to give the child an extra bit of attention etc. Keiran’s birthday was last month and it fall on a Friday (so i was having the party on the Sat) so the Friday i just sent a cake to school so that the kids could sing to him and just enjoy some cake.

  6. Never heard of school parties, only the “take a cake/ cupcakes to school” part, so very keen to read all the comments 🙂

    I’m personally not into double work so I doubt these will work for me.

    And to the other commenter, R100 is a normal-priced gift for me, not a cheap gift 🙂

    • reluctantmom

       /  December 9, 2011

      R100 is also sort of my mark – I often end up around R120.00 once you add wrapping paper or what ever. I think the issue is then R120.00 x 25 x 2 kids = a lot of money … for class parties ……

  7. Charlotte

     /  December 9, 2011


    I hate school parties! When Amandalynn brings and invite home it goes into her arts and crafts box and she gets to cut it up and forget about it. I DO NOT SEND GIFTS OR EVEN MAKE MENTAL NOTE THAT THERE IS A PARTY. Sending an invite for a party at school, to me is like ASKING for a gift. My kid will be there because I pay school fees and the party is in school times. I do not send gifts as I do not have to RSVP. When you invite me to a party at your house or a venue then I will RSVP and send you a gift, to me that is the correct thing to do.

    When it is Amandalynn’s birthday I do not send invites and I do not make party packs! I send a cake, 2 bags of chips and juice. I don’t know how the other schools work, but if you send a party packet it does not get eaten in class but it gets sent home. So I don’t do party packs because I am not feeding your child twice. That is your job.

    I will send a gift to every party my children attend and if both children are invited I will buy 2 gifts as they both get a party packet. There is nothing more horrible than when you walk into a birthday party and a child ask “where is my gift”! My children will not dare do that, I tell them that they should not expect gifts from friends and family and if the ask for gifts I will hurt them. Birthdays are not about present but spending times with family and friends.

    Okay so my comment is long enough to be a new blog post.

    Sorry 

    • reluctantmom

       /  December 9, 2011

      Nope I think you have said what most moms feel …… school parties are a bit “confusing” for me, so everyone’s opinion helps me to work out what the “norm” is. This week there were 8 “school parties” at Georgia’s school ….

  8. denise

     /  December 9, 2011

    I hate school parties… Jaden spent one term at school – obviously not his birthday term! I sent 15 presents to school. I kid you not.

    Its a stupid idea and one party i even got the childs sex wrong and sent an aeroplane for a girl! Have a party at home/venue or don’t have a party at all.

    Thats me done…

  9. Ciska

     /  December 9, 2011

    We here on the other side of the true Boerwors gordyn (Centurion), have a mix of these parties. Some parents even have a party at school and at home, for the chosen few!
    But I agree with you, even if it is a party at school you need to send a gift! It is just good manners. I usually tend not to send a whopper of a gift to school, nothing more than R100.
    I do think however that some parents use this as a nice cop-out for not having 30 kids destroy their house or drive them insane for 3 hours. But isn’t that part of the fun of having kids.
    The insane parties and sometimes having the adults enjoy the jumping castle more than the little ones. I say, have parties at home, where you can go to bed absolutely exhausted, wondering why you do this to yourself each year but already mentally planning the next one!

  10. Luddite lass

     /  December 9, 2011

    I have never even heard of school parties like you describe so I’ll be very interested to hear what the rules of etiquette are for them. My children (and all the others in their classes) take cake to school on their birthdays. Everyone sings to them, they blow out candles and eat cake. That’s it. Then they have a party at home or a venue. A few children bring party packs for everyone in their class (although that is discouraged because children tend to have friends in other classes too who feel left out) that have sweets and juice, crisps, bubbles in them. Last year in Grade R one parent gave party packs with a Lego set in it for each child. That was seriously OTT and has never been repeated.


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