Since You Asked…

Photo: Google


Dear Caroline,

My husband’s 50th birthday is coming up. I decided to celebrate the occasion by throwing a formal dinner party at our home. The invitations went out, and they were clearly worded and styled in a way that, at least I thought, made it clear this party was intended for adults.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law called to RSVP and said, “We assume the children are invited.” Of course, they weren’t, but I didn’t know how to tell her. Now I feel stuck.

What should I do?

…Disgruntled in Durango

Dear Disgruntled,

You didn’t mention whether or not your sister-in-law is Mexican. If so, her reaction is understandable. Adults-only invitations are very rare here. If culture isn’t an issue, it may be that your invitation seemed vague, or that she doesn’t have anyone to watch her kids.

Your best window of opportunity to manage her expectations came and went during her phone call. You could call her back to tell her no other guests have decided to bring their kids and hope that she’ll take the hint, but she may not.

But take heart! This situation need not leave you disgruntled.

Though children and formal dinner parties don’t mix, there’s a gracious way around the problem — one that some of your other guests might very much appreciate as well: on-site child care.

It’s simpler than it sounds. Set aside a suitable, separate space, add a few balloons, hire a babysitter and give other guests the option of bringing their kids as well.

Provide pizzas, soft drinks and a few inexpensive toys, crafts or videos. Have some pillows and blankets on hand so that the littlest ones can fall asleep while the grownup party rolls on.

If your sister-in-law’s kids are the only ones coming, and they’re old enough, you could possibly put them to work as coat check clerks or even hors d’oeuvres servers before sending them off to the kids’ area at the dinner hour.

When my children were small, we added a babysitting room to our grownup party plans more than once, and it made for a relaxed time for all.

Wishing your husband a memorable milestone birthday!


Have a problem that’s been on your mind for a while? Send it to:


Leave a Reply