Kids at adult holiday parties? Kelsey Grammer did it at Playboy mansion

When my son was a baby I took him everywhere. Because who wouldn’t be overjoyed to bask in the glow of a child, right? Perhaps that was Kelsey Grammer’s thought when he took his three-month old daughter to a Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. Hollywood gossip sites criticized Grammer for subjecting a baby to boozy bunnies, but was that so wrong? The little cherub reportedly slept the whole time. I’d much rather see a baby at a party than an older child—especially one equipped with a phone and a YouTube account.

Grammer’s and my party faux pas aside, perhaps we all need a reminder of some basic rules of etiquette.

Related: Kelsey Grammer defends bringing baby to Playboy Mansion

Party etiquette for guests
Most etiquette experts agree on a very simple rule: Parties are intended for the people named on the invitations. In general, unless it says “and family,” you need to get a babysitter. Do not put the host on the spot by asking if you can bring children, and do not pretend that you “didn’t know.”

If you decide to break the one and only rule, beware of people like me. I love to see a baby at a party because it means I can get my fix. Holding a small child for only a few minutes causes my newborn cravings to dissipate almost immediately, especially if that kid spits up on me. Yes, I love holding babies for finite periods of time. I also love cocktails. So watch out for people like me. Nothing ruins a party like off-duty mom dropping a baby into the spinach dip.

Bottom line, most prefer you leave the kids at home. In addition to annoying other guests, children are certain to destroy any chance for parental fun. In The Kid Dictionary: Hilarious Words to Describe the Indescribable Things Kids Do, Eric Ruhalter coined a term for it:

(WIN-tehr-FEAR-entz) n.:
A child’s ability to distract one or both of his parents from enjoying themselves with other adults at a holiday party.

“You shouldn't bring kids to an adults-only party,” says Ruhalter. “But just in case you ever do by accident, make sure your kids know how to prepare holiday cocktails and park cars.”

It helps to dress them in black and white.

Party etiquette for hosts
While you should not have to state explicitly on invitations that a party is for adults only, consider spelling it out. You know how some of your friends are, and you want to be able to say ‘I told you so’ after a particularly obnoxious friend ruins your party with her snotty little brood.

On the other hand if you welcome children at your gathering, say so. I recently received a party invitation warning that the hostess’s children would be in attendance so we would have to “behave.” That’s one way to signal children are welcome at the party—or that you’ve stooped to an Austin Powers theme.

Mom of four, Mary Heston says, “If kids are going to be allowed then the hostess should be ready for whatever mayhem she allows into their house.” Margeret Garcia likes to hire a babysitter to organize games and fun in another room. “Every parent chips in according to how exhausting their kids are.”

Whether or not you hire a sitter, if kids are welcome, make sure to have appropriate snacks on hand. Our neighborhood once had a near miss with Jello shots at the Fourth of July block party. Heston provides special mugs (and cards the kids) at her family’s annual Oktoberfest. Best to provide kids their very own refreshment table. Better yet, a party of their own.

 What do you think? Is it ever okay to bring uninvited children to a party? Or should you always skip the festivities when you can’t get a sitter?

Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA, and Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? Her thoughts on marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 have appeared in hundreds of magazines, websites, and anthologies.

More holiday survival tips from TODAY Moms: 

Christmas creep begins now: Start managing kids holiday expectations now

Surviving the family holiday meal and that extra helping of parenting advice

Discuss this post

I completely agree with Ms. Davidson on this... unless specifically noted, children should NOT attend parties where adults will be doing 'adult' things (I'll leave that for others to fill in as appropriate). The rotten little creeps generally screw it up for everyone anyway and their parents tend to be completely blind to their rugrats rude behavior.

  • 10 votes
Reply#1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:09 PM EST

Just spent a couple of days in Las Vegas and the thing that amazed us most was how many families with small children were there. It felt like we spent half of our time walking around and over strollers. That was not fun for us and the kids looked quite miserable for the most part. We were there for some adult time which is why we didn't take OUR kids. They can also use a break from us. Let them stay with friends or cousins so they can have some fun too. Kids don't belong in Vegas or adult parties.

  • 7 votes
Reply#2 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:21 PM EST

Kids get to have enough freakin' parties throughout the year...can't we have a few holidays without them? Oktoberfest is distinctly NOT kid friendly. Why would you even consider the possibility of bringing them along? Don't get me wrong, I adore my little nieces and nephews and love spending time with them - but not every single 'party' requires the presence of a child. If you don't want to get a babysitter, then don't come. Simple.

Sorry to sound like a wench on this, but I have had numerous parties ruined because Mom and Dad of the Year decided to bring junior and spend the party shushing people or telling them to watch their language. Seriously? Who invited your kid??

  • 4 votes
Reply#3 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:30 PM EST

Reciprocate by bringing your dogs.........if you don't mind your animals being uncomfortable for a bit. I simply canNOT stand this "kid-centric" society we have become. It seems that there is no such thing as "adults only," anymore. Some people, and I admit to being one, do not find babies, toddlers, kids to be all that wonderful. And, as RachelJ, mentioned, seems like everywhere one goes, EVERYONE must "make way" for the strollers that are only slightly smaller than VW Bugs.

  • 10 votes
Reply#4 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:31 PM EST

Hugh Heffner and his ex-wife did it first.

    Reply#5 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:39 PM EST

    Grammar's child is an infant. That makes it a little different. Unless he cried through the entire party, it probably wasn't a problem. Toddlers and older kids should not have been there.

    I always hate it when people bring their dogs, even if it's a family event. I've had parties that had nearly as many dogs as kids.

    • 3 votes
    Reply#6 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:42 PM EST

    I NEVER take my dogs to anyone's house, for any reason, unless it's the house/event of another "doggy friend," and even then, I will clear any visit in advance. I just wish parents of the 2 legged version would do the same. I know of people who have SPECIFICALLY said, "NO KIDS (of any age)," only to have guests show up WITH kids! Invariably, these insufferable jerks are "insulted" that someone would "treat (their) children with such disdain!"

    Society as a whole is afflicted with an appalling lack of good manners.

    • 4 votes
    #6.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:24 PM EST

    I don't know, an infant actually requires more work, changing diapers, feedings, least an older kid can tell you if he is hungry or thirsty, or needs to use the restroom. It's not that difficult: either find a sitter or don't go to the party.

      #6.2 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:16 PM EST

      Of course it's never acceptable - infant or not! The HOST dictates who the guests are and what type of party it is. If you accept an invitation, accept it as it's issued. DO NOT change the party and the guest list to your liking. Stay home, host your own party, whatever, but do not be so disrespectful to your hosts.

      That's doubly true for a wedding, BTW.

      • 7 votes
      Reply#7 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:59 PM EST

      Sounds like he was desperate to attend the party- go figure as he left his former wife for a gold digger half his age

      • 5 votes
      Reply#8 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:34 PM EST

      Man what a bunch of Puritans. I remember when I was a kid going to "adult" parties with my mother. There was usually a room where the kids were with refreshments and we watched videos and played games. Sometime it was family and sometimes it was friends. It was never a problem. Just because it's party with adults and drinking doesn't mean all the adults get sloshed. Not everybody can find a sitter or afford one. Does that mean they should sit at home all the time and never have any fun? Evidently some on here think so. What a bunch of selfish meanies. Sounds like a lot of people just want to dump their kids so they can have a good time. Glad your not my parents

      • 1 vote
      Reply#9 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:00 PM EST

      Glad you weren't my kid. Mine wasn't tied to my apron strings like some are or all pouty when her parents attended adult events. She stayed home with a fun babysitter she idolized, got to stay up late watching tv, and eat cool snacks. I'm not a puritan by any stretch of the imagination but there are times when you'd like a like a couple of hours off from having to be around kids - yours or someone else's. It's not being selfish, either. It's a matter of being a healthy adult. Kids also need to learn that the world doesn't revolve around them and that time away from their parents can be a good thing. They tend to have a better sense of self. I've often noticed that the children who are brought along to adult parties are usually the kind who like to get attention from adults and do whatever they can to insinuate themselves into the adult conversation. Of course, it's their parents who engender this type of behavior to begin with so you can't really blame the child, but at the outset, I don't go to parties to socialize with children. Ever.

      • 7 votes
      #9.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:53 PM EST

      There are many adults I don't like to socialize with either! Have you ever listened to drunk party goers? Sometimes it's like high school all over again.

      • 2 votes
      #9.2 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:21 PM EST

      Ah yes Kat I went to these parties because I wanted to. Please quote me where I said I threw a fit until I could go also. Ass-ume much? I had many babysitters since my mom was single after my dad died when I was 4. I had fun babysitters also. Especially the teen girl who showed me her breasts. I learned a lot from her. Guess you selectively read my post and skipped the part about not always finding or being able to afford a sitter. I'm not surprised though. You just wanted to be snarky despite what I wrote. You also evidently skipped the part about the kids being in a separate room set up for them. I'm pretty sure I said that.

      There was usually a room where the kids were with refreshments and we watched videos and played games.

      Yup there it is. See how easy it is to use the quote feature? I'm used to people like you on Newsvine. You can't use my actual words against me so you just make stuff up to justify what you wanted to write. Let me return the favor by wondering if your like my step-sister who had her son taken from her when he was 5 because she wanted to party more than she wanted to be a mother(of course when she got knocked up at 17 being a mother is all she wanted-until she actually was one and had to do the work). His father and his family want nothing to do with him because he "looks to white"(they are Latino). He's 14 now and she hasn't tried to get him back once in 9 years. I'd rather a mother or father who took me to parties than a mother and father that didn't want me at all and showed it.. Glad your not my mother. That tied to your apron strings comment makes me think you may be like my step-sister. I hope your kid doesn't tell you one day about how she cares more for her "cool" babysitter than she does you. You don't go to parties to socialize with children. Ever. Well the people at the parties you attend don't seem to mind socializing with one.

      • 3 votes
      #9.3 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:12 AM EST

      Lame, these replies are extremely polarized, so far from the norm. The article has attracted a lot of strange comments.

        #9.4 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:30 AM EST

        You never remember it being a problem because you were too young to notice if it was, and the people who's homes you crashed probably were far too polite to say anything.

        Even though I have adult parties in my home, I still set aside a few kids things JUST IN CASE someone is uncouth enough to bring their child. When I have parties for everyone, I make it clear that kids are welcome, too. They just aren't welcome every single time I do something.

        Look, if you can't afford a sitter, then you should stay home. I'm sorry. If you simply don't want to pay for one, then that's a choice you make to stay home as well. I didn't force you to have kids - you made that choice knowing that someday, at some point, you would be invited to something that your kid was not, and you make the choice to spend the money or not on a babysitter. It is not my responsibility to entertain them. I didn't spend hours cooking and preparing hors d'ouvres so your kid could look at them and squish his face up in disgust. I didn't spend money on adult drinks so you could ask me where the milk is for him, either (and I don't drink milk, so you'll never find any in my home as it is). And if the party starts at 8pm, your kid should be on their way to bed by then, especially if they're young enough to require toys to keep them occupied.

        Again, none of us are saying that kids should be banned - we are saying that when a party is adults only, and the kids are not explicitly invited, it's rude to bring them, so they, you, or both should stay home. Simple.

        • 2 votes
        #9.5 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:56 AM EST

        Yes I was crashing parties at 6 years old. If my mom was rude so were all our other relatives and her friends who all had kids. Because none of the people having the party had kids of their own right? And I guess you skipped the part about my father dying and my mom being a single income provider after that. I wouldn't be surprised if your reading of my comment was as selective and incomplete as Kat. Not everybody asks or expects to be in the position that life ends up in sometimes. Maybe some of our friends and family realized that recently made widows don't necessarily have a bank roll stashed away and could use some cheering up after a tragedy. Not everybody is as selfish and narcissistic as some. Nice to know that you feel if someone doesn't have a $50,000 year job they should just stay home and suck it. Because your funds are tight you don't ever deserve to have some fun. I doubt you'd take your own advice if you were in that position. I also doubt you are in that position because if you were you wouldn't be spouting the trash you are. Easy to have an attitude about something you've never actually had to deal with yourself. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you earned your money from your career and didn't just use what's between your legs to catch a honey pot since you seem to be speaking from a position of privilege. Bringing a child is uncouth but your anti-child elitist attitude isn't right? You want adult only time go to a bar or club like most people do. You don't have worry about kids there, cleaning up the mess or spend hours making hor d'ouvres. And news flash your kids aren't always tired at 8pm just because that's the time you banish them to their room so you don't have to deal with them anymore. I don't have kids but that is why every friend I have that has kids and their friends and their friends do it. I have no doubt that's why you do it also. I'm sorry having kids is such a downer for you and others. That's why I don't have kids. That way I'm not f*cking them over because I'm to selfish to deal with results of my actions in bed when it's not "fun" anymore. Some day your kids will have power over you and will decide whether they take care of you in your golden years or send you off to a hell hole so they don't have to deal with you and that will all depend on how you treated them while they grew up. I remember a lot more than you think from when I was 6. And so will your kids.

          #9.6 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:48 AM EST

          Some Lame Name Here and Kat - A key point was missed by both of you, even though you both made the same assumptions. Some Lame - it is obvious that the parties you attended with your mother it was expected to have a separate venue for the children. Do you honestly think a party at the Playboy Mansion had a separate room for children? Kat - that is fine you don't go to parties to associate with children. I am sure that a party at the Playboy mansion would be a fun, adult only, not for kids party. It doesn't make you a bad parent.

          The article comes down to etiquette and how today we overlook proper use of this. What are we really teaching our children? Name calling and assumptions of personal situations is not proper.

          • 1 vote
          #9.7 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:40 PM EST

          Dave, funny thing about etiquette, is that there is none anymore... bringing your kids to parties is the least of our worries :) I would say that even having a party at the playboy mansion for married people is kinda wacky anyway.

          • 1 vote
          #9.8 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:01 PM EST

          Dave, whatever. I was making my own point to LameName who apparently thinks everyone should feel sorry for him/her and make special allowances because of the hardships that were befallen on his/her family. It's sad that you, Lame, lost your father at such young age causing emotional and financial hardship but I fail to see what that has to do with simple manners.

          The parties you have described sound, to me anyway, like children were expected since there was a room set up for them and that you weren't the only one there. If you weren't invited but your mother brought you along anyway, well, I think that's in poor taste regardless of her financial or marital status.

          Glad your (sic) not my mother. That tied to your apron strings comment makes me think you may be like my step-sister. I hope your kid doesn't tell you one day about how she cares more for her "cool" babysitter than she does you.

          Yeah, I hope so, too. But my "kid" is now an adult who is rather well-adjusted, if I do say so myself. She's actually just about to finish grad school. So... if she had any trouble with how she's been treated in the past, I'm guessing she probably would have said something by now. We seem to have a pretty good relationship. :)

            #9.9 - Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:16 PM EST

            It's simple etiquette: do NOT bring children to a party when children are not explicitly invited. It's so completely rude to do that. People who love to breed don't have a clue how nauseating their children are!

            • 3 votes
            Reply#10 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:06 PM EST

            I don't bring my child if the host doesn't want them. What's the big deal? Anyhow just remember you were a nauseating kid yourself at one time, AND a product of breeders! Who is the rude one here?

            • 6 votes
            #10.1 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:19 PM EST

            I would not bring a child to any function they were not explicitly invited to. However, I must say that I hope you, Holly, have no children. Some people should never have children and you are definitely one of them! I am sure that people who know you well would never want their children in your presence.

              #10.2 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:38 PM EST

              Parents, you are so much more interesting when you don't have your kids with you and you don't talk about them either. Really, it's so true.

              • 2 votes
              Reply#11 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:56 PM EST

              Hope you don't have kids and hope you don't try to be friends with people who are parents. Good parents are fully engaged with and about their children. You should probably only have single friends or childless couples as friends.

              I would never never take a child to an adult party - more for the kids than for the adults. LOL. Good parents do not take their kids to adult parties. They either get a babysitter or don't go to the party.

              Lame people like you are a good reason for parents to leave a party very early. You are a bore!

                #11.1 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:46 PM EST

                I have to agree with you, Hils. I have a daughter but I only mention her when people ask me how she's doing or what she's up to. Of course, she's an adult now but when was young I tried to follow that rule. When people would walk up to me and start talking about their child(ren) and even sometimes whip out the pictures without prompting from me, I'd often wonder what I did to deserve it. I truly believe that parents should be fully engaged with their own children like AllPeople said, but forcing other people to be is just plain ridiculous. Why should anyone else find my child interesting?

                And the comments he/she made to you were also ridiculous. They were rude, boorish, and arrogant. I think I met her at a party a few years back. I saw pictures of her twins. Lot of pictures.

                  #11.2 - Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:40 PM EST

                  If you can't get a babysitter, STAY HOME! Most people understand this, but Kelsey Grammer is a pompous jerk who thinks the world should be as enamoured with his kid as he is. There's a saying that applies here, "Consider the source".

                  • 2 votes
                  Reply#12 - Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:22 PM EST

                  The kids at the parties are no where near as unpleasant as a guests (not the hosts) dog. I've never seen a child drag the food platters off the table or growl at people, or poop on the living room rug, or pee on the couch. If the child DID do that, they'd be reprimanded by their parent and given a time out or taken home. The dog gets petted by it's owner and the other adults have to deal with the mess.

                  • 1 vote
                  Reply#14 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:13 AM EST

                  I've had kids break things in my home, and the parents laughed it off..."Oh, Johnny must have thought it was a toy! Oops! You know it was an accident, right? We have lost SO much at our house because of his curiosity!...Is there more punch?"

                  I also have dogs. I've only ever brought them with me to outdoor family picnics where other dogs were playing (my uncle has a fenced in area for his dogs to play, so we put them together). I never just SHOW UP with my dogs. Why? Because it's rude. Just like it's rude to bring your kid with you everywhere you go.

                  Get a babysitter. I know you're afraid that your unique and special snowflake is going to suffer without you, but I assure you, they will be fine.

                  • 1 vote
                  #14.1 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:49 AM EST

                  You both miss the point. Good parents don't want their kids at adult parties - not good for the kids. Good pet owners do not bring their dogs to a party unless they have been invited to bring their pet(s).

                  Rude people bring kids to adult parties. Rude people bring pets to parties where pets were not invited.

                  So, as long as we are not narcissistic, selfish people like Kelsey Grammer, there is nothing to worry about. Be appropriate. When in doubt, ask the host or hostess.

                  • 1 vote
                  #14.2 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:50 PM EST

                  So just because this idiot brings his kid to an adult-themed party, it makes it acceptable? C'mon, he's no Emily Post, so why does anyone care what he does, and why does anyone want to follow his lead? If he jumped off a cliff, would that make everyone else follow? This guy is a spoiled brat who had plenty of money to hire a sitter, but he wanted to impose his will on all. Common sense, etiquette, manners, and class have disappeared, apparently.

                  I have a daughter and if I can't have grandma watch her for a few hours while I go on a girls' night out on a Saturday, then I simply decline the invitation and tell the girls I will take a raincheck. What's next, people bringing their kids on a blind date or a night club? Hey, maybe your child can learn to grind and booty dance by the age of 4 (sarcasm)!

                  Of course, you should ask the host if there will be children before assuming your kids can attend. Unless the host has kids and tells you to bring your child to entertain her kids, don't assume your kid will be welcomed and either make plans to have someone watch your child, or decline the invitation, ESPECIALLY when it's an adult themed party (bachelor party, swingers' party, Playboy mansion party...).

                    Reply#15 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:25 PM EST

                    Kelsey Grammer seems to have little understanding of appropriate behavior. Something is wrong with that man!

                    Anyone who isn't more concerned about their baby or child has a problem. Babies and children do not belong at a party for grown-ups with alcohol, etc. Try protecting your kids, folks! Wow, just wow!

                    If you do not have a babysitter, you just don't go to the party. What a mixed up, selfish, self-centered society we live in. Kelsey Grammer is the poster boy for selfishness and narcissism!

                    • 1 vote
                    Reply#16 - Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:27 PM EST

                    Leave the kids at home........most people don't think your kids are as cute and funny as you do! Most of us think they are annoying....and yes, I have kids and now grandkids. There are family functions where everybody joins in and there are adult parties where only the adults join in. And leave the pets at home. That is just ridiculous to bring pets!

                      Reply#17 - Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:26 AM EST
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