I like throwing parties off-site. You show up with a cake, meet the guests, they go off and have fun, come back for cake and presents, and then you leave things for the staff to clean up. Mr W's had two parties at Chuck E Cheese's now, and has enjoyed them a lot.
Yes, it can be sensory overload for the un-initiated, and many adults take refuge back by the food tables. The kids run around playing games for half the time, then come back for pizza and cake and a visit by the big rat, er, mouse.
I dutifully sent out invitations a couple of weeks ahead of time. To make it easier, or perhaps because I was too much of an optimist, I wrote "RSVP, regrets only" on the invitation. That way, and assuming most kids would attend, only the ones that wouldn't be there would have to call. Sounds good, right?
I had 4 kids not show up that I had to pay $15 apiece for. I can't believe their parents are so inconsiderate that they don't read the invitation and spend the 30 seconds it would take to call and say they won't make it. What is up with that??? It makes me pissed off all over again to write this.
The important thing is that Mr W had a good time, which he most certainly did. He was able to play the games with his buddies, and be the 'Birthday Star' for a bit. But I learned a lesson, which is that in the future I will make it crystal clear (and Miss Manners polite) that I need an RSVP. Hopefully that will at least cut down (it won't eliminate, I know) the incidence of having to pay for kids that don't show.