Would you ever ask a birthday party no-show to pay you back?

Recouping the cost of a birthday party no-show. Fair or unreasonable?
Recouping the cost of a birthday party no-show. Fair or unreasonable? Photo: Getty Images

In an age of social media and mobile phones, last minute cancellations are all too common.

But, after spending a small fortune on food, decorations and entertainment, should parents be able to recoup the cost spent on a kid who doesn't show to their child's birthday party?

That's what Julie Lawrence from Cornwall did when a five-year-old boy in her son's class failed to attend his birthday at a local ski slope.

Alex Nash's parents, Derek Nash and Tanya Walsh, were shocked to find an invoice for £15.95 ($29.40) tucked into their son's bag after he didn't show at the party.

Derek told the UK Telegraph that he originally said Alex could attend the party, which was held before Christmas.

"She saw me and asked if Alex was coming to the party. At this time I agreed and said that Alex was looking forward to it," he said.

However, Derek later realised that the party was the same day as Alex and his sister had a planned visit to their grandparents, but he hadn't received an invitation to let the party hosts know about the mix up (read: his son, in classic 5-year-old style, had almost certainly buried that invitation under three banana peels and a term's worth of newsletters at the bottom of his bag and there was no way he was fishing it out).

"By this time we did not have a contact number, email or an address to let [the boy's mother] know," he said. "So on the day of the party we asked Alex what he wanted to do - he chose to be with his grandparents."

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Although Alex's mum Tanya looked for Julie at the school gate to apologise when school went back on January 6, she was unable to make contact with her until the invoice was passed on by Alex's teacher (who received it in an envelope from Julie) on January 15.

A series of tense Facebook messages between the two mothers (and published by the Telegraph) followed, in which Julie says the Nash family has cancelled on other families before, and threatened to take the matter to the small claims court if the Nash family didn't pay up.

There are so many questions here:

1. Was it really impossible to contact the family holding the party? (Spoilers: No it wasn't. Class list, anyone?)

2. Is there actually a small claims court in England that is going to put up with this? (Spoilers: No there isn't.) 

3. Will poor little Alex now be forced to read about this bizarre mummy war every time he Googles his name? (Spoilers: Yes, unfortunately, he will.)

But the most important question is this: What would you have done?

With elaborate party bags, jumping castles, and princess entertainers you need to sell the crown jewels to afford, a child's birthday party is increasingly becoming a significant financial investment. At around $30 a head, this party at the ski slope definitely wasn't the most expensive party held in England last year, but it wasn't cheap.

And if this family are cancelling on birthday parties left, right and centre without letting people know (and without a child getting sick, a parent being called into work etc.), maybe someone did need to take a stand?

Still, the stand at the local court seems a bit excessive.

Do you think late cancellations are more of 'a thing' now than they were 10 years ago? Should parents be able to invoice other parents for birthday party no-shows? Tell us in the comments.

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