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Reader Rochelle asks, “How do you tastefully tell people to leave the kids at home…it’s an adult-only affair?”

Answer: Carefully, Rochelle. Very carefully.

While there are, of course, many good reasons why someone would choose to turn their party into a kids-free zone, this can be a very sensitive issue for some people, mainly parent-type people. They may feel they are less welcome at your event or that you are rejecting their kids.

Here’s how to avoid hurt feelings:

  • Keep it positive. Sometimes wording can make all the difference. A phrase like “adults only” sounds a bit less negative than “no kids allowed.”
  • Add an explanation. You’ll avoid questions later if you pre-emptively explain your reasons in your invitation’s message to guests. No need to over-apologize; just keep it honest and simple: “Sorry, money is tight right now,” “Unfortunately, our place isn’t kid-proof,” “We’re too limited on space to invite everybody,” “Thought it would be fun to get together with just the grownups. Kids invited next time!”
  • Make no exceptions. Some guests may contact you to ask if their kids can attend. While you may be tempted to give in, it’s best not to — or you’ll risk upsetting the guests who respected your wishes. If asked, tell them you don’t think it would be fair to other guests. You can also offer to help find a sitter or see if any other guests want to share a sitter so the kids can have their own mini party while you have yours.
  • Smile and roll with it. If some guests show up with children in tow, resist the urge to say something or get upset. As a host, it’s your job to make guests feel welcome (even if they aren’t). You might even want to have some kid-friendly food and drinks on hand, just in case.