You're not invited: navigating kids' parties and Facebook

February 17 |
indigo's smashing birthday shindig!
IT'S A BIRTHDAY PARTY! Photo by morgwnmakespeace.

Offbeat Bride ran a piece last month that touched on an interesting phenomenon: with social media usage so prevalent, we now have to deal with how our friends will discuss our parties online. More specifically, how people who were invited to an event or party will talk about it after it happens, and how people who weren't invited will react. This can either be awesome, and people don't really think it's a big deal that they weren't invited, or… it can suck.

Don't invite people through Facebook

Or if you do, put that shit on LOCKDOWN.

It's easy to make an event "private" on Facebook, but it's NOT easy to ask people not to post photos of the event on their own walls (or yours) after it's happened. Kids' parties are tricky if you're trying to keep the guest list small — for every one kid invited, you may need to account for possible siblings, parents (especially if the kids are young), partners of parents (if they're not together), or friends that the kid might bring. In short: your guest list can multiply rapidly. If you really only want ten of your kid's friends to come over, it's better to send out paper invites and ask guests to not post photos. You might feel like an ass ("Hey, I'm going to tell you what to do with your photos and your Facebook profile!") but if you want to avoid drama ("Why weren't we invited?" or "That looks like fun. Wish we had been there. :(") then it might be worth it.

Have an excuse handy

Because someone who wasn't invited will inevitably ask, it's good to have a few polite reasons why you didn't include them handy. A great and totally understandable go-to is "We kept the celebration limited to family and close friends." This gets a little hazier when you don't invite a kid who DID invite your kid to his or her party… (and I'm not talking about at-school parties that require that everyone gets to participate, because that seems totally fair to me) but sometimes, that's life.

…but don't apologize if you don't want to

One of my favorite things that's said in the piece on Bride is:

So, how am I dealing with the posts by other people on Facebook et al? I'm not, really. I'm not explaining, statusing, worrying, excusing, or wringing my hands. I'm certainly not apologizing. If anyone wants to bring it up with me, they're welcome to, and I'm happy to explain our choices. But I'm not going to lie to anyone about why we made those choices, least of all myself.

Or, as my husband said when I expressed similar concerns to him: "If you don't give a fuck, then don't give a fuck." While this may not have been his most eloquent moment, I think the point is clear. Ultimately, who does and doesn't come to your kid's birthday party is up to you and your kid — and not really anyone else. If you think the feelings of those who you didn't invite will be hurt, you can attempt to limit publication of the photos — but only to a degree.

Have you guys had to deal with this? How did you handle hurt feelings in a constructive/positive way?