The birthday party guests were so upset that one mom had to go back to Build-a-Bear Workshop and get her daughter a new stuffed animal.
As Fox News reports, after taking her 6-year-old daughter to a friend’s birthday party, one mom posted to Reddit to ask if she was in the wrong for being shocked and offended at the way the party ended.
As the mom explained, the party was for a friend from school and was held at a local Build-a-Bear store, though it wasn’t run by the store or its staff. Rather, the plan was to gather for pizza and cake at the shopping center, go to the store to make stuffed animals, then return to the birthday girl’s house.
The way the invitation described the main activity was a bit vague, but the mom interpreted it to mean that each child would leave Build-a-Bear with a bear of their creation:
The invitation said each kid (about eight total) would get to make a Bear, and I just assumed they would get to take them home, since that is what happened at another [Build-a-Bear] party I went to. Me and my husband even pitched in about 30 dollars as we know these things can get expensive.
When they got to the bear-making portion of the party, the children clearly enjoyed themselves. The mom said the kids went “wild getting their animals and accessories.”
While she doesn’t know how many parents put limits on their child’s spending, she “made [her] daughter stick to just a standard dog with a shirt, which about half the parents did as well.”
After having fun at Build-a-Bear, the group left the store. That’s when things went sideways. To the mom’s surprise, the mother of the birthday girl (who she called “Karen”) asked the guests to hand over their new stuffed animals:
All is well, we leave the store, then friend’s mom announces that the kids need to give all their animals to her daughter. Cue the upset and angry kids. They all disappointingly handed over their animals, and friend wasn’t even being nice about it either. Another little boy didn’t want to, and friend ripped it out of his hands.
In an update, the mom explained that she spoke to Karen after the party and mentioned that the children seemed upset about handing over their bears.
“We wanted [daughter] to have a special animal decorated by each of her friends,” Karen explained.
When asked why the guests didn’t get to keep their bears, especially since the mom had pitched in money to pay for her daughter’s bear, Karen responded:
“Well, I didn’t have enough money for each of the guests to make their own, that would get pretty expensive! If you want your money back I’ll see about getting it back to you. I don’t really see the problem though.”
On the day of the party, the guests returned to the birthday girl’s house after bear handover, but the mood had changed. The mom wrote that they left pretty quickly, but her daughter was still so upset that she felt compelled to return to Build-a-Bear:
We get back to friends house and our kids are watching as friend plays with all her new animals. I left with my daughter pretty quickly, and once we got back into the car she just started bawling. I felt bad so we went to Build-a-Bear and got her a new one.
The mom posted online to ask if she was being entitled in her reaction to the party.
“What bothers me is she said she ‘didn’t have enough money for all the kids to have one,’ but she did have enough for her daughter to get like 8 bears,” she pointed out. “Just doesn’t really make sense.”
The resulting social media outcry made it clear that the mom was not alone. Once the story was shared on social media, people weighed in to share their outrage at the way the party went.
“A kid doesn’t need 9 stuffed animals for her birthday gift!” one mom wrote in a Facebook comment. “If you’re going to host that kind of a party, the PARTY itself is the gift to the birthday child. I don’t think gifts should EVER be expected. Call me ‘old school’ but I don’t remember any of my gifts growing up, but I have vivid memories of the parties.”
One Reddit commenter wrote:
That’s so far outside the norm, I might broach the topic with the parents, as I would be concerned they don’t understand what a breach of social custom that was.
A few people thought the party was a good idea in theory but required advance notice and preparation to avoid hurt feelings. One mom commented on Facebook:
I actually love that idea..but if they let them know ahead of time. For example I would announce that it’s a special thing for my daughter and she wants a customized doll from each of her friends so the children would know that they were making their friend a bear and not a bear for themselves. And when they go to the house they could all play with the bear they made but still leave it for her.
However, there were those who argued that young children would never be able to understand giving over their creation, no matter how tactfully done.
One parent on Reddit said they’d tried something similar for a son’s birthday party, where the guests made cars for the birthday boy. But despite explaining it in advance, there were enough hurt feelings at handover time that they made a last second change and let the kids keep their creations:
Even though the rationale made sense to the adults, a lot of the kids felt it was unfair. And there were tears as a result.
To make matters more confusing, several parents related their own experience of Build-a-Bear parties in which the guests got to keep their bear at the end.
I went to a Build A Bear party as a kid and it was completely free. They brought us to a smaller party room where they had the bears we could pick from so that we didn’t pick the expensive one. We went to the store for stuffing and back to party room for outfits.
— Alisha (@nolatulip) April 14, 2019
But a former Build-a-Bear employee on Twitter claimed that they’d seen similar give-your-bear-to-the-birthday-kid parties as well.
I don't know why, but this is a Thing. I used to run a BABW and had two parties where parents did the exact same terrible thing. (For each one between my mgr discounts and everyone in the store – including other customers – chipping in, we were able to get the kids new animals.)
— Emily Dare (@moonandserpent) April 14, 2019
In the end, the mom was willing to let the matter drop after confronting Karen over the way the birthday party went. While acknowledging that it wasn’t a “satisfying ending,” she was grateful for the support and reassurance that she wasn’t wrong to be offended.