My sister is hosting a birthday party at an indoor playground for my nephew this summer.

We did this last year and rented a party room which are these tiny closet sized rooms that are pretty expensive for the amount of space and time you get.

So this year she decided to do what other families we've seen do and just have the party there without the room and have cake in cafe area.

Normally the facility keeps track of your guests and bills you after, but they won't do that without the rental.

How do we politely ask guests to arrive before a certain time in order to have their admission paid as I will sit up front and wait for them to arrive for 30 minutes after the official start time of the party. I'm really struggling for a way to say this without it sounding tacky to me, but the logistics don't really work to sit up there for people who arrive later than that as I would have to miss most of the party.

Am I just being too sensitive and feeling awkward for no reason, or is there a correct way to phrase this to our guests?

Currently she has "Please arrive before 3:30 to have admission paid."

Maybe "Please arrive prior to 3:30 for complimentary party admission."

I'm still trying to work with the venue to come up with a better way, but I think they want to push people to rent their party closets so they're probably not going to help us out with this.

  • You say you have seen other families do this, how did they go about it?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 17:02
  • They seem to have smaller gatherings than we're planning. They also mostly seem to arrive together. We have his preschool friends and others coming and it's 20 or 30 kids and their plus 1 (parent/adult). Commented May 10, 2023 at 17:20
  • And the plus 1 will stay the entire time? Or just drop off their kid and go home?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 17:58
  • The adult stays for the party, we can't take on the responsibility of watching 20+ toddlers and hosting a birthday party. Commented May 10, 2023 at 19:21
  • 2
    @AsheraH the problem may be people turning down the invitation and now the ticket is wasted. But maybe do that once people have accepted, if there's time.
    – DaveG
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


I think there are two aspects to a successful phrasing here:

  • make it about what you will do, not what you're asking them to do
  • phrase it casually like you're talking one on one to a friend, not formally like instructions

Something like:

We're covering admission to [place.] I'll be outside until 3:30 paying for our guests to enter. After that I'll be inside and you'll have to pay for yourselves, so don't be late :-)

Make sure this is after the part about it starts at 3 so you're clear that you're giving people half an hour of lateness, no more.


“Hi, you’ll need to be there at 3pm at the latest, or you will have to pay your admission yourself, because I will join the party at 3pm”.

Telling people that behaviour will cost them money usually fixes thoughtless behaviour quickly. They can’t ask you to wait, because that means you can’t join the party, and requesting that would be rude.

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