Should birthday party 'no-shows' be sent an invoice?

Late party cancellations can be annoying.
Late party cancellations can be annoying. Photo: Shutterstock

As a mum of three September babies, I'm planning three parties this year. I'm acutely aware of how much stress goes into planning a party, honing that invitation list, and ensuring things go smoothly on the day.

And then there are always the no-shows. Those that say they'll come and then something comes up at the last minute which means they won't be coming along after all. Even though you've catered for them, paid for their spot at your event, and prepared a goody bag for them.

For me, annoying as it can be, that's just the way things go sometimes. But for one mum, the no-shows were too much to overlook. She took to Mumsnet to share her story and ask for advice.

When her daughter turned 16 recently, this mum wanted to do something special. Her daughter hadn't had a party for five years, and she wanted to do something "fun and unusual".

She saved for months to make the party happen, and she put down a deposit for paintball, which required a minimum of 10 participants to go ahead.

Then, the day before the party, things started to go pear-shaped.

"Tonight three people [have said] they are not coming," she wrote in her post. "Two have yet to say yes or no. Out of 12 (including daughter). Minimum for activity is 10.

"Just when did people become so rude and unfeeling never mind unconscious of wasting money?"

Now the mum is thinking of taking drastic measures: invoicing those who aren't showing up.

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"Am I being unreasonable…to send a terse note to these families? And maybe an invoice?"

While many agreed it was inconsiderate to cancel so close to the party, they questioned the appropriateness of sending an invoice or the note.

"I can understand how tempting it is to say something," one mum wrote, "but at 16 years old, I think you have to let them sort it out themselves."

Another suggested she consider her daughter's feelings in the situation. "Does your daughter want you to contact the parents?" she wrote. "If she is okay with it, I think I might contact them."

Another pointed out that those who cancelled may not realise the impact they were having on the party, saying, "They might not realise that you paid for it and need 10 participants and when their daughters are saying they don't want to go now they are just seeing an opportunity to not drive, not thinking through what it will mean to you and your daughter."

One wise commenter suggested the best birthday present to come out of the situation was some solid life advice. "Humour heals and personal pain often makes for the best stories later in life!"

The mum reported back after the party to say they managed to gather a group of 10, including a younger siblings and a few ring-ins. But more importantly, her daughter and remaining friends had a great time at the party. All talk of invoicing seemingly forgotten.