Anyone who has ever thrown a party with a per-person charge knows the frustration of “No Shows,” people who RSVP “Yes” and, at the last minute, do not come. Whether a wedding with a per-person catering charge of $100 or a kiddie party at a children’s play place, it can be upsetting for the party givers and guest of honor to plan on people attending only to have their places empty. Etiquette books have plenty to say on RSVP courtesies, but a mother took her response too far – the angry mom sent a bill to a 5-year-old boy for missing her child’s birthday party.
Alex Nash was invited before Christmas to a schoolmate’s birthday party at a snow fun center this past week. However, when the day arose, the boy from Cornwall, England, decided he wanted to go somewhere with his grandparents instead of attending the party for Charlie.
Nash’s parents were shocked when the boy came home from school with an invoice for a party no-show fee of £15.95 (about $25) from the birthday boy’s mom, Julie Lawrence, in his school bag. Lawrence claims Alex’s lack of attendance wound up costing her money.
When someone does not show to a party where a head count must be given, the hosting family usually has to pay for the absentee away, particularly when a guarantee to the facility is involved. It can be aggravating when someone shows with an unexpected sibling in tow that adds to the head count and may mean a shortage of goody bags. However, when someone does not show, it may be rude (or due to last minute issues) but the expense would have been incurred anyway.
While the no-show in this situation could be viewed as impolite and many parents would have pushed their child to attend anyway because a commitment has been made, there is no additional cost and the child involved is only 5 years old. Imagine legal claims that an RSVP implies that a contract has been created. Is an RSVP an intention to create legal relations between the child “guest” or the parents and the birthday child or hosts? Such an idea seems inconceivable.
The moms of both children involved here then took to social media to escalate matters. Lawrence posted an explanation that the bill is one child’s party attendance at the ski slope (the package included snow tubing, tobogganing and lunch) and that they had indicated Alex would attend.
Alex’s mom, Tanya Walsh, expressed shock about the bill and claimed to not have realized the Lawrence’s were incurring a per child cost. She added that she apologized for not letting you know, but did not have the Lawrence’s phone number or e-mail address. She also noted that, had she known there would have been a charge if Alex missed the party, she would have paid it. Alex’s dad has also commented that the money is not the issue here, it is the way the other mom went about trying to get the money.
The social media messaging has escalated to threats of legal action, which seems ridiculously extreme. A 5-year-old missing a birthday party is not that unusual, but the angry mom here may claim to be acting on her child’s behalf but clearly needs a time out.
By Dyanne Weiss
Featured Image by Jepoycamboy – Flickr License