Dear Etiquette Guy:
This summer my wife and I will be hosting a family get together in our part of the country, on one of the evenings we plan to have everyone over to our house for a cocktail party before going on to dinner at a local restaurant. Although the average age of our guests is somewhere in the fifties, two members of our extended family have small children. My feelings are that a cocktail party is not a place for kids and I have no problem clarifying to our guests that this is an adult only event, should they wish to avail themselves of babysitting services or have someone volunteer to stay in the hotel and baby-sit the children for a couple of hours, good on them. There is no way I want 5 kids under the age of 10 running around our house, we don’t particularly like small children, our house is not set up for children, there are no toys, there is no room for them to go and play in while the adults socialize and I would not be able to relax while the little devils are underfoot. My experience with today’s modern parents is that expecting them to control and entertain their offspring in public is simply wishful thinking so to me, the choice is quite simple. No kids.
However my wife believes that because they are family we should just suck it up and be accommodating, giving notice that the event is adult only is rude and offence will be taken. At this point we are considering canceling the event which of course will lead to the inevitable criticism from other family members that we are too stuck up to have everyone over to our house. Do we have to accommodate the kids or is it perfectly acceptable to limit the function to adults?
I understand completely. Now Michael, is it really sensible to cancel a cocktail party
because of children? I don't believe it is. Simply explain to the two families involved
that children are not included. They will need to get used to this idea. You are not
inventing it, nor are you the only person who feels the way you do, either about children
and cocktail parties or children in general. I understand your wife's point of view;
however, whose party is it? As hosts you call the shots. If people take offense, they are
the ones who need to do the sucking up, not you. Also, Michael, do not assume the worst
here. The parents of the children may be thrilled! I hope this helps and feel free to
carry on as the party isn't until summer and a lot of water is likely to go over the dam
between now and then.