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The Vine: December 7, 2012

Submitted by on December 7, 2012 – 11:47 AM72 Comments


My family always had advent calendars growing up, and I am looking for suggestions for good advent calendars to purchase now. I am open to reusable or non-reusable ones.

There is also one particular advent calendar I have in mind. My parents purchased it at least twice. It tells the story of a little star that ends up being the star that guides the Wise Men to baby Jesus. The plot is a little bit like Rudolph or "The Little Engine That Could." There is a little bit of text behind each day's tab. This is probably my favorite advent calendar of all time and I would love to find it again. 

Thanks, Nation! Happy holidays and happy counting-down.

Advent Searcher

*****

Sars,

I think I recall you saying at some point that you read Prudie on Slate so I'm writing to get your take on a recent letter over there. The topic is invitation etiquette; I pasted the letter below. 

Q. Kid-Free Holiday Parties: I'm a childless mid-30s woman living in a downtown one-bedroom condo. I'm having a casual holiday get-together soon at my home, and my boyfriend and I are a bit at odds over invitations. I am not comfortable with having children over. That may seem terribly Scrooge-like to some, but my place is small, I prefer an adult vibe for my events, and the thought of sticky hands and shrieking after 48 hours of cooking and cleaning is more than I can handle. Is it OK to issue adults-only invitations? Is it better not to invite parents at all? I completely understand someone not wanting to get a baby sitter, and I'd be happy to meet with the kids in a restaurant or someone else's home, but what's the correct etiquette for my own home? None of the potential guests are relatives; they're my boyfriend’s friends, and we don't live together.

A: Yes, you're entitled to have an adults-only party. So make it a "Holiday Cocktail" event at a time, say 7 to 9, that makes it clear children aren't welcome. Many parents will enjoy getting a baby sitter and getting out. The ones that won't should send their regrets.

My question isn't really about if it's okay to have an adults-only party, but if Prudie's solution "makes it clear" the event isn't for little ones. I'm in a similar situation to the LW…it's a New Year's party but that's basically the only difference — oh, and I'm married, so obviously my husband and I live in the same place — but our apartment is pretty small. And I love my friends' kids, I really do. But, you know. A lot of them are toddlers, and I'm planning to use the china. An infant would be okay, but really I'd rather not have to worry about it at all.

But you always say that people don't take hints, so, my real question is, do you think Prudie's advice would work? And if not, what would you say instead that would imply as nicely as possible that it's not that I don't want to hang out with your kids ever, but this isn't for them and please don't bring them? I get what Prudie's saying, but the parents in my set don't put their kids to bed that early, or care about drinking in front of them, so I don't think that would be effective but I don't want to be a Grinch either.

What would you do?

Benny 

Dear Ben,

Yeah, I remember that letter, and I also remember snorting at the "should send their regrets" part, because maybe they should…but there's always someone who won't, and when it comes to kid-free events, in my experience, you can't have it both ways. You can put something like "absolutely no one under the age of 21" on the Evite, or you can be diplomatic and subtle and live with the two or three half-pints who show up.

I'd just do the second thing. It's less agita to plan the party you want to have, and understand in advance that some folks may come by with kids and it doesn't have to be the end of everything. I always mention on my invitations that revelers of all ages are welcome, but that my house and cats aren't child-proofed, so invitees should call me with any concerns; that lets everyone feel welcome (and they are) but gives them to understand that my domicile generally is not a place for smaller children (and it isn't).

I agree with you that Prudie's "solution" seems like magical thinking, nostalgia for a bygone Cheeverian age when people still knew what time of day called for tea-length, and how to make an aspic (hi, Keckler!), so if you really don't want kids there, you will have to say so. Like I said, I don't think you should go that way, and here's the other thing, if we can just be real here for a second: this is never about "kids." "I don't want kids at my wedding," "I would prefer that there not be kids at the party" — okay, some people do legit hate all kids, but I'd say 98% of the time, it's not really "kids." It's one or two specific kids whose parents are like, "…'Sugar'? Why, what does that do?" or would rather film little Tristan punching the souffle and post it to Facebook than make him stop doing it before you have a coronary.

And you already know exactly who that is in your circle, and you should just not invite that parent/couple. The vast majority of parents, they're on it. They know what "overtired" looks like, and when to get between a small hand and a big piece of the Lenox. Trust them to act right. Those folks usually peace out by 9 PM anyway and you can have grownups-only time later on.

So, no, I don't think Prudie's advice is realistic, but I do think it's helpful to look at what you really mean when you say "sticky hands and shrieking." (That wasn't you, but you know what I'm saying.) Don't let one bad dwarf apple spoil the whole barrel, in other words.

Readers, you want to weigh in here?

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72 Comments »

  • Jill TX says:

    I had the same thought when I read Prudie's response — the people who *should* get the hint are precisely the ones who refuse to do so. It's a tough situation, and I know we've all seen more than our share of internet forum throw-downs between the "Kids Ruin Everything" and "All Kids Welcome All the Time and If You Disagree You're Cruel" camps. I think Sars's solution is the most diplomatic, but I'd be tempted to put a happy little "21+" message on the invitation and deal with the fallout later.

    Incidentally, a Tristan is the specific reason I had a no-kids wedding. After the way he was allowed to act at our grandmother's funeral, I had a feeling my nuptials wouldn't get much respect either.

  • Carol says:

    With regards to holiday parties, I've always been very direct with the people who I invite. Maybe it's just that I know these people pretty well, but when I send out invites, I either include something like "no kids, please" or contact the specific parents individually by phone or email to let them know. I put it out straight: my apartment isn't kidproof, and no matter how good your kid is, I don't think the mom I invite is going to have a good time if she's spending the entire party trying to prevent Johnny from pulling all the books off of my shelves.

    For me, it's less about specific troublesome kids (although I do have friends with those) and more about the fact that I don't have toys or games for the children to play with and probably won't be serving food or drinks that they would enjoy. Which means that the parent or parents will likely spend most of the party trying to keep a bored kid entertained — which isn't fun for anyone.

    I've had a few people not come to parties because they didn't want to get or couldn't get a babysitter, but to my knowledge, none have ever suggested that they were offended by the fact that the kids weren't invited. Of course, this could depend on how well you know the people invited and your instinct for how willing they might be to leave the kids at home.

  • Gina says:

    Situations like Benny's make me nuts. We have a "high-spirited" toddler, and we never take him to parties unless the invitation specifies that it is a child-friendly affair, especially if the event doesn't start until after his dinner time. If the party takes place during the day, or is at a park or pool or a potentially kid-friendly venue, we call up the hosts and ask if there will be other children attending (we don't know too many other people with kids). If there are other kids, great, we bring ours. If there aren't, EVEN IF THE HOST SAYS OUR CHILD IS WELCOME, we get a sitter. It's simple, and Prudie is right that it ought to be tacitly understood. However, it's not. There are always people who assume that everyone is dying to fawn over their little angel, who should therefore be accepted at any gathering. Sars is right, so put the breakables on the highest shelf and brace yourself.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Jill TX: Hee, "a Tristan." We should just make that code for That Kid. "I know we should invite the whole class, but we've got a couple of Tristans in the pre-K that I just don't want to deal with."

  • Soaringdragon42 says:

    Advent Searcher – My hubby and I are rocking the LEGO "City" advent calendar. We got it at Walmart, and I know ThinkGeek has a Star Wars themed LEGO one (also at Walmart). Cracker Barrel is/was selling a Hershey's Kisses one, too.

    Sorry I can't help with the specific one, though!

  • Kona says:

    I have a 4-year-old, and it's so weird to me that parents just don't ask. Case in point: I'm invited to a Christmas party thing that starts at 4:30 PM on a Sunday, and his hosted by a woman with two small children. On the Facebook invite, two of us specifically ask if we can bring our kids.

    I don't even take for granted that people who HAVE children want them at every single event. Why would anyone take that for granted when it comes to those who don't?

  • Jill TX says:

    @Sars: I love it! (As long as my family doesn't read this site…)

  • dk says:

    I'm a brand new mom, and I would love to have invitations clearly specify whether the kid is invited. He's 3 months old, so he can generally fly under the radar, but I know that some people just don't want the baby vibe at their party, and I totally respect that (and I also know that he will not be this easy to control forever).

    We were invited to two parties recently, and neither invitation said anything about kids. I wanted to bring the baby if possible, since I'm rather fond of him, so I responded as a "maybe" and emailed both hosts something like "Sounds great! Pending childcare arrangements, I'll be there!" One wrote back "Oh! Please bring the baby!" so we did; the other wrote back "I hope you can make it, feel free to bring the baby" which seemed less enthusiastic, so we made babysitting arrangements.

    In conclusion, hosts: Thank you for not dropping me off your guestlist now that I have reproduced. I'm happy to drop the kid off with grandma in order to spend time with you, so please tell me what you want. A simple "no kids, please" is perfect, and (speaking for myself, anyway) no offense whatsoever will be taken.

    And if my kid ever turns into a Tristan, please god tell me.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    it's so weird to me that parents just don't ask

    Me too. My friends always do. Sometimes it's a party that some kids would do okay with and others would be too shy for. Might as well check.

    I think I ran a letter once from a parent who was convinced her friends were "just saying that" children were welcome but didn't really mean it because they didn't have kids themselves, like, then maybe don't bring your kids? And get friends you don't think are lying to your face? Not everyone who has chosen not to have children is looking to shoot any who stray onto the property, jeez.

  • Keckler says:

    Assssspic.

    That's all I have to add.

  • Andrea says:

    I have a 7 month old, and I just ask. Unless I don't need to – I knew the Friday night BBQ that started at 9 at the home where the keg has it's own refrigerator was not a baby-friendly event, so I didn't take him. All of my friends seem pretty comfortable just checking. A simple "kids or no?" text usually suffices, and I haven't gotten mad or had anyone get mad at me about the answer.

  • Isabel C. says:

    I went with "I personally don't object to kids, but my apartment has sharp things, booze, and porn. Also, I swear a whole motherfucking lot," or something to that effect. But I think "adults only, please," is fine, and also that anyone who will flip the fuck out about "adults only, please" is not someone you really want at your party anyhow.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I have to admit, if somebody just showed up at my completely unkidproofed apartment (well, not completely–it's not like there's lines cut up on the table and goats roaming around, but) with a little darling, I would be extremely tense. There's just so many things they could destroy and so many ways they could get hurt.

    The way I see it, asking is 100% the way to go. The only problem is: if you don't want Tristan there and tell his parents "it's not really kid freindly", all the little Isoldes have to stay home too, or Tristan's parents will eventually look up from the smartphone long enough to notice that all their circle's kids are there except theirs.

  • Anne says:

    I have a little one, and I always check before bringing him to things I've been invited to (and often don't even ask because I'm like "WOOO! getting a sitter!"). If you have friends who are going to bring little ones to a party in the evening (which would disrupt my one-year-old's whole schedule and be kind of unfair to him), then either you have to say "don't" or not invite those people.

    Which kind of sounds like "have more thoughtful friends," but seriously, I know those people who just don't get it and tote their kids everywhere and never get sitters and they are infuriating.

  • Empress says:

    We loved the Playmobil advent calendars when I was a kid. They're easily found on amazon.

  • Banana Bunny says:

    I think this is a situation where Evite falls short because you invite people by email addresses, often where one email represents a couple or a family. If you're using email or other social networking tool, then I think an "Adults Only Please" comment is appropriate.

    On paper invitations, if the event is for adults only, I address the invite to the adults only: Mr & Mrs. Smith or Betty & Bob Smith for less formal. If the event is family friendly: The Smith Family. Its a lot easier to specify.

    But as others have pointed out, people don't always look at how the invite is addressed or simply ignore the distinctions.Knowing your audience comes into play.

  • Halo says:

    This season I've received invitations with both "bring a friend, bring your lover, bring your child" and "This event is an opportunity to call a sitter and leave your amazeballs children at home while you karaoke your heart out." You can be light-hearted and let your friends know how you feel at the same time.

  • ferretrick says:

    One thing that I think helps is have a backup plan to keep the kids happy in the event one arrives. Kids that aren't bored out of their minds or hungry are far less likely to be problems. It won't cost much, and if the items become necessary they will pay for themselves. So-invest in some board games or toys for the ages and genders of kids that could potentially arrive, preferably ones they can play with relatively independently. If you're having a formal dinner, buy a cheap card table and figure out now where you will set it up for the kids to eat, and have paper plates. Buy some hot dogs or a microwave dinner or something else a kid will eat that you can fix quickly if it becomes necessary.

  • Lori says:

    This advent calendar is a little like the one you described, with a part of the Christmas story to read each day in a mini book. The little books can then be hung on a Christmas tree. I'm not sure where you live but this is a UK company, and I'm not sure if they ship overseas

    http://tinyurl.com/c53yrrz

  • Kat says:

    I have nothing to add except this: I love the nation! It's like a tiny paradise of reasonable, sensible people here. *sigh*

  • Jenn C. says:

    On the parent flip side, too, we've been invited to events where we were told our daughter was totally welcome, only to arrive and find a house full of highly fragile, highly valuable artwork, right at toddler height or a house with a beautiful sweeping staircase with no railings (both also known as toddler crack). I can't tell you how much I would have appreciated a heads up that it was NOT a toddler-friendly environment, because I sure as heck had little fun at that party as a giant ball of worry she was going to break something.

    Definitely one of those scenarios where we'd all be better off if people were honest about what they wanted – then we'd know the "children welcomes" were genuine and we wouldn't have to worry about putting a host on the spot asking if the littles were invited.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Great point, @Jenn C., because those of us who don't have kids might not think of some of this stuff, even though it's crushingly obvious once you show up. It didn't occur to me that my bottom-shelf change bowl looked like snacktime, though it probably should have (Mr. S ate anything smaller than a quarter back in the day, including the Monopoly hat, my favorite piece…hate!). I'd rather parents ask ahead of time than have to spend an exhausting evening goalie-ing.

  • Kristin says:

    I totally agree with Halo – put a cute "time for grown-ups" message without being assspic about it. Like, we welcome everyone's children, so long as they are 21. This playdate's for grown-ups only, etc.

    My poor friend agreed to let her friend bring her brood a few years ago, and they tore the place up, while their parents got wasted and ignored them. It was free babysitting night, and the hosts ended up spending half their time changing DVDs and comforting their scared pets. Not a good scene. Most people aren't that clueless but there's always one who thinks, "Oh, he/she can't be referring to little Tristan (heh). He's an ANGEL! Give me a double." So it's better to be clear and stand firm, so that everyone has a good time.

  • Jana says:

    As a parent and the wife of my particular husband, I beg you to specify that it's adults only. My husband thinks the whole family is invited to any event, and then I have to be the one who convinces him that's not the case. So after he finally believes me and we arrive at what was intended to be an adults only function, but other people bring their children, I hear "See, I told you we could bring the kids." Also for those of us who were so looking forward to a grown-up event, the mood is spoiled.

  • Clover says:

    I've gotta throw something else out there, too: staying with a babysitter is awesome, or at least my sister and I always thought so. It was way more fun to make s'mores in the fireplace with Kim or play hide-and-seek with Kristi or learn about Mad Libs from Ginger than it was to go to some lame grown-up event with the parents. Hiring a good babysitter for an evening out shouldn't make anyone feel one little smidge of guilt.

    I'm kind of crafty and once made a beer advent calendar for an old boyfriend. It was a bit like one of those hanging shoe-holders, but each compartment contained a different seasonal microbrew and was tied shut with a ribbon and a note. To this day, I believe it's the best gift I've ever given anyone.

  • JenK says:

    Advent Searcher–I stopped doing advent calendars when I moved out of my parents' house, but now that I have kids who are old enough to understand it (and not eat it), I'm starting up again. I remember the kind of paper advent calendars you're talking about, and I searched for one in stores this year with no luck whatsoever. There are some on Amazon, which I forgot existed until it was too late.

    If you want a reusable one, take a look at Etsy. There are some wonderful handmade advent calendars on there, in both religious and secular flavors. I have had grand plans to make my own ever since I saw one at a friend's house–it was a rectangular wall hanging with a tree sewn onto it, and there were 24 pockets at the bottom, each containing a hand-sewn ornament to put on the tree. If you are at all crafty, you could make your own for next year. It's the sort of thing that could turn into a much-loved Christmas tradition. In fact, if you aren't crafty, another reusable DIY advent calendar I saw involved a thin rope, some clothespins, a Sharpie, and 24 red, white, and green baby socks. Put candy/fruit/slip of papper with Bible verse, line from a poem, or family activity/whatever into each sock. It's easy to make and easy to customize, and the cuteness is built right in with the baby socks.

  • Rachel says:

    For Benny – We have a kid and most of our friends have kids, but when we plan parties that are specifically for adult people, we write the evite with a little "Call a babysitter and come on over, we're doing shots until sunrise!"

    …or something. I mean, there's a way to word it that makes it verrrrrry clear that you're not expecting children, and I've found that being overly jolly about it ("call in favors from Grandma, tell the babysitter you'll be late") lets even the thickest of skull know that it's NO KIDS. I think maybe one time we had a thing and someone brought their kid and we were like "YAAAAY Jimmy can mix a Manhattan, right?" and those folks left early. So.

    If only the Vulcan neck pinch thing worked. You could just pinch 'em and throw 'em in the guest room for the duration. Alas.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    So Jimmy couldn't mix a Manhattan, then? [kicks dirt]

  • attica says:

    Here's the thing: children make excellent bartenders. They don't freestyle!

    I know it sounds all Mad-Men-y, but I loved mixing drinks for my parents' guests when I was wee. It's not like I drank any of it, but it sure was fun to measure and stir in a tall glass with ice and a swizzle stick!

  • Rachel says:

    No, Jimmy was useless AND he ate all the maraschino cherries. What a Tristan he turned out to be.

  • Erin McJ says:

    The one time I was at a party with a kiddo playing bartender, a bridal shower game went off the rails and the poor guy wound up seeing his grandma in her skivvies. I'll never forget the look on his face and I am pretty sure he would've rather been at a sitter's.

  • JR says:

    @Erin: …Wait, what? You were at a bridal shower, there was a child bartender, and somehow Grandma got naked? I have no words.

  • Dana says:

    I always specify, and the parents I hang with usually specify too. There is nothing wrong with an "adults only, please" in my opinion. And frankly anyone who takes offense at that is not someone I particularly want to hang out with anyway.

    Also, as a parent, the prospect of a night out sans monkeys is usually met with great enthusiasm.

  • Morgan says:

    I second both the playmobile and lego advent calendars. My husband and I each get one every winter and they're awesome.

  • Mary @ Parenthood says:

    Gotta say: I appreciate it when hosts leave the decision about whether to bring my munchkin up to us (the parents). Of course it is nice to have a heads up about what kind of party & whether you have expensive artwork, but I'm slightly offended by the idea that someone would preemptively disinvite my kid because they think I'm going to have a hard time keeping my kid entertained. That's rather paternalistic in my view. My brother couldn't pass an object without picking it up and fiddling (he once took apart the mechanical timer for our neighbours oven), but my sister was fine surrounded by breakables from any early age.

    It also depends a lot on what the parents have prioritized teaching their kid AND the kid in question. We have many stairs & no gates. My kid consequently never went near the stairs without an adult until she was 2.5 and now nearly 4 she still doesn't go to another floor without permission. My nephew had gates, so his parents have to be more vigilant if visiting places with open stairs. Doesn't make us better parents btw, just means that when we visited somewhere that isn't "baby proof", lack of baby gates not a factor for us, but could be for another parent.

    Assuming that I'm not one of THOSE parents with one of THOSE kids (and I agree with SARS that you know who they are!), I know my kid best, thank you. Mine doesn't do that well in noisy crowded settings so I wouldn't bring her to that kind of environment, but she is quite able to sit through a 2 hour meditative church service in silence and so she does not need to watch your wedding from the sound proof nursery (ahem, cousin dear).

  • Elle says:

    @ Mary… no offense but you sound a bit like one of THOSE parents with THOSE kids. Sometimes people want to have a party with an adult vibe and no children around. Even the best behaved two year old in the world should not be attending a whisky tasting party starting at 10pm.

  • Troy says:

    The thing is, Mary @ Parenthood, Tristan's parents would say something JUST LIKE THAT.

    "Oh, come on. Tristan will be just FINE at your party! He's just HIGH-SPIRITED."

  • Jill TX says:

    I'm cracking up at all these Tristan (and Jimmy) anecdotes. It's going to be tough keeping a straight face around my own Tristan now!

  • RobinP says:

    @ Mary: the thing is, no matter how well you know your darling angel (and my darling angel is the darlingest, most perfect angel), and no matter how well your special snowflake behaves, kids change the vibe of an event, just because they're kids. Not everyone is endlessly fascinated by Magic Treehouse, and they shouldn't have to be, especially, but not limited to, childless people in their own homes.

    Also, and this is a more general comment, I really don't understand why parents want so badly to bring their children to adult functions. Do you really want Tristan to be present when aunt Mandy gets drunk and yells "blowjob?" Cause you KNOW that's going to get repeated on the playground on Monday. Just saying.

  • Amy Newman says:

    @Mary, the hosts get to decide if children are invited at all, because — they are the hosts and it is their party. Your choice as a parent is to decide if the child-friendly party is appropriate for your child, not if your child is appropriate for the no-children-allowed party.

  • Beth says:

    Most of my friends have kids, and even on afternoon playdates I'm still kinda scared that he's gonna wreck their houses. No way would I be taking him out to an adult party.

    (Not rising to Mary. Not rising to Mary. Not rising to Mary……..)

  • Jo says:

    @Mary: What other people said. People get to tell you whether to bring the kid to their house because, it's THEIR HOUSE. Maybe they want to get wasted and drop F-bombs at their own party without feeling guilty, or they want to have grownup conversations without hearing kids screaming or whining. Maybe they want to spend time with YOU, their friend, and not have you have to worry about whether little Angel is bored or tired or hungry because she thinks the food is gross. I have lots of friends with kids who I love very much, and there are times when I love having the kids over and want to see them. But sometimes, I want to hang out with just the grownups, and if it's my house, that's my right.

    And even if your Angel really is the perfectly-behaved kid you say she/he is, the problem is this: Tristan is not. And if you bring Angel, Tristan's parents are going to get there, see that your kid came even though they hired a sitter, and throw a big-'ol drama fest about being told not to bring him.

    (I'm planning a wedding and AM inviting kids, and am still getting the drama from friends who keep telling me about why there weren't kids at their weddings and why I shouldn't have them. It's insane).

  • Jobiska says:

    I've purchased traditional German advent calendars from Sellmer's before: http://www.sellmer-verlag.de/trade/index.php

    Not what was asked for, and she's hasn't done a new one for some years, but if you love cats and want an online version (nothing wrong with doing a previous year's if you haven't experienced it before!) I love Tate the French Cheesemonger's cat's stories: http://www.catwholaughed.com/previous/ Best to read them in chronological order, though, as the story builds from one year to the next.

    This year I bought a lovely, sort of woodblocky/children's book-y one from (sigh, embarrassed to admit I went in there…okay, I went in there Hipster Home in Chestnut Hill, PA. Alas, I did not examine it well enough to realize it's a pop-up, tabletop model rather than one you can hang on a wall. Tabletop space I don't really have…but I'm making do.

  • Jobiska says:

    Oops, meant to say I went in "Hipster Home" ironically.

  • Jacq says:

    Heh! This whole thing is cracking me up, not because of the question and answer, but because my husband is called Tristan and is the world's most well mannered, considerate and lovely man. According to everybody who has known him since he was a tiny child (and not just his mother – everybody!), he's been a delight from toddlerhood onwards. He's obviously the Tristan that proves the rule!

  • Advent Searcher -- OP says:

    Thank you for the advent calendar recommendations! I especially love the Sellmer-Verlag site, @Jobiska.

    Obviously, the children-at-parties question is a bit spicier, so I understand why it's getting quite a bit more comments traffic.

  • Advent: My 9 yr old stepdaughter is LOVING the Lego City Advent Calendar. The excitement with which she greets each Firefighter and leetle teeny plastic tool set is so fun to watch! I wish she was into Star Wars so I could have got her that one, but oh well.

    re: Tristans: Oh yes, my 2 yr old has a Tristan who's the biter of the class. . .I've used "Tristan" as general code for about a year.

  • dawn says:

    I absolutely knew how to mix a Manhattan by the time I was 8 years old (and could tap a keg even earlier than that – what, isn't that what kids are for?!).

    The thing is, even if you make clear it is an adult party (i.e., a whiskey tasting starting at 10pm, which sounds delightful BTW), and specify on the invite "no kids" sometimes snowflake-ism isn't just reserved for Tristan. Tristan's parents could be snowflakes too and will bring him regardless. Indeed, I went to a VERY fancy wedding last winter where the bride/groom specified that children were not invited and, at the super-fancy reception there were – you guessed it – two bratty monsters running around. Luckily, the groom's mother will do worse to them than any of us ever could for "defying" the instructions.

    So, best to make clear that your home isn't child-proof and let parents know their preciouses won't be having any fun at said party because there won't be games/toys/dvds, etc. If you have the space, a kid-friendly TV room is great, but not everyone can manage that.

  • Kerry says:

    For my holiday party, I use the line "due to a preponderance of open flames and swearing, this is not an event for children."

  • Dorine says:

    I don't know how to do the nice links, but for Advent Searcher: try searching for "The Christmas Star Book and Advent Calendar" on Amazon — it comes up with some Lego options first, but then there is a book plus calendar option that might work for you.

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