The Vine: December 7, 2012
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.
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?
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?