17 Jan
A PTO Party: Good God, How Fun Does THAT Sound?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

The PTO at my daughter’s (public) elementary school is throwing a big party next month to raise money. It sounds like it’ll be a good time with a band, food, etc., but they’re charging $150 PER TICKET. There are a lot of families who can probably afford this, but not mine. I think $300 is just ridiculous and I know that our PTO already has a surplus of money, so it just seems greedy.

The main problem is that I’m friends with a lot of the parents and teachers and they keep asking me if my husband I are going to the party. I don’t know if I should lie and say we’re out of town that night (and then hide that weekend) or tell the truth and risk embarassment. What do you think?


No Party, Please


Dear No Party Please,


And then I wonder why I get stuck picking up the dirty Band-Aids after Track and Field day.

But it does sound like you have one of the worst kinds of PTOs: the kind that acts like they’re doing things for the kids when they’re really doing things for themselves. Why else would they feel the need to throw a party when they supposedly don’t need the money? If you ask me, it sounds like Miss Ginger Sue Tompkins got a bug in her bonnet and now she wants to throw a big ‘ol bash for all y’all glitzy gals! (Please, someone get me out of Texas. Why am I talkin’ like this, y’all?)

I do agree that $150 is a bit steep for a public school event and I’m sure you’re not the only person who can’t afford it. And if it were me, I would simply say, “We’re not going because it’s not in our budget.” However, I can understand if you’re not comfortable saying that, so maybe you could go with a basic, “I wish we could go, but we have another commitment that night.” That should suffice.

But if it doesn’t and people press you as to what commitment you have that night (which is entirely possible), you have two choices. One: mumble something about work or church or sports. Or two: look them straight in the eye and say “My coven is sacrificing a rabbit that night and I don’t want to miss drinking the blood!”

Actually, the coven party sounds kind of fun. I wonder if that’s in my budget?

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH


34 Responses to “A PTO Party: Good God, How Fun Does THAT Sound?”


Comment by Ace.

OMG this is just ridiculous. Wendi, I totally agree with your answer. And EFF! Is this what I have to look forward to as a new mama? Damnit.


Comment by Erin.

$150?!! That is steep. If I’m going to be shelling out that kind of money to people who aren’t truly in need, then that day needs to be a spa day. You know, to recover from the soul suckers who try to get me to do things for them under the pretense of “for the kids.” *shudder*

Great advice, Wendi!


Comment by Bean.

“I’m afraid we’re not free for that event.” Implies you’re busy, when in reality, you have better things to do with your money.

$150 is nuts!


Comment by S Club Mama.

Don’t ever be embarrassed that you don’t have $150 extra dollars. If your PTO is already rolling in the dough, I wouldn’t go based on principle! Shoot our local country club is having a dinner for $60 and I turned that down. I think that’s ridiculous.


Comment by Becky.

$150 is ridiculous. For the PTO event. I’m with Wendi – I might find $150 in my budget for the coven’s rabbit sacrifice shindig.

For the record, $150 is about 6 pedicures. The PTO should understand a mom’s priorities.


Comment by Chantelle.

I bet your not the only one that can’t afford to pay out that kind of money, or even if they could manage to, don’t think it’s right. There’s probably others afraid to stand up and say anything because of fear of how they might look too. I would go with the truth and if they shun you then they are not worth your time anyway. You will feel better telling the truth and doing what’s best for you and your family then you will trying to please them. If they are really your friends then it wont be a problem.

Desperate Dietwives Reply:

I TOTALLY agree with you: $ 150 for her + $150 for her husband is a hell of a lot of money. Take the courage to say it’s not in your budget and if they are really friends they won’t judge you and they’ll understand. If they don’t, you know how to value their “friendship”.
At any rate, you’ll have saved 300 dollars and said your opinion about their craziness.


Comment by sisterfunkhaus.

I would simply be truthful. I don’t find it embarrassing at all to tell people that I wouldn’t spend that much money on an evening out–especially in this economy. The PTO should be embarrassed and ashamed for throwing a party like that. It is ridiculous.

If you don’t feel comfortable admitting you don’t have the cash (even though I wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone who judged me by my ability to pay $300 for a party) then tell them that you aren’t free that evening.


Comment by sisterfunkhaus.

BTW Wendi, I love the coven comment. I know you were joking, but I would totally say that to a prissy PTO mom who was sticking her nose in my business.


Comment by muffintopmommy.

The thing I’m curious about here is, never mind parents, but do the PTA mommies think teachers can/will pony up $150 a pop to attend their dog and pony show?

Sounds like some mommy got a new boob job and wants to have a comin’ out party! Let her do it on her own dime! I’d spend my dough having a fun night out with hubs or friends. Pfft.


Comment by Me.

It’s $300. Duh. I’d tell the truth because it seems they need a touch of reality. Any time you price an event above what the average member of the community would consider reasonable, you are out of line. Unless you live in a very wealthy area and most people CAN easily afford this, they should be told.


Comment by Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac.

I would be honest. Or as Wendi the Texan would say, be a straight-shooting sonofagun, y’all!


Comment by GiveMeCoffee.

I can’t speak to this particular PTO, but I wanted to give you the other side to this issue – although your answers are all very funny. In my state, public school budgets have been cut so dramatically that not only have art, PE and music classes been eliminated, but class sizes are increasing and parents are providing copy paper and kleenex as part of school supplies and are paying for their kids to ride the schoolbus. As a result PTO/PTAs have become fund raising machines in order to replace things/salaries that were previously covered by school budgets. In the district where I live, the PTOs sell wrapping paper, grocery certificates, cookies dough and hold “parties” which are actually silent auctions with items and food donated from local businesses. All the money goes to pay for art, PE and music teachers or to reduce the kindergarten class size down from 40 students per class. (Teachers attend for free.) So although your particular PTO may be full of mommies wanting to show off their new boob jobs, I would argue that that is probably not the case. I urge everyone to take a look at your school’s PTO budget, which should absolutely be public. How do they raise the money and what are they spending it on? It unfortunatley isn’t on Halloween parties anymore.

muffintopmommy Reply:

I agree— budgets have been slashed in many places to the point where it’s unacceptable and I feel for what yours is going through–and that’s nothing to joke about, but I believe No Party Please said they have a surplus in her district. Fundraising is a necessary evil in this day and age, and if this district does need the dough after all, I would think lowering the ticket price would ensure more could attend and would mean more profit in the end!

Plano Mom Reply:

If they need the money for these programs, I would still prefer to give directly to the program rather than only a percentage. If it were a backyard barbeque with a $100 plate, I’ll bet they’d raise more money.

Angie Uncovered Reply:

I agree, budgets have been slashed. Classes are getting larger while staff is getting smaller. The reason for this is economic crisis. For many, $300 is a month’s worth of groceries, a good chunk of a mortgage payment, the co-pays for the kids doctor visits, etc.

Unfortunately, when too many people feel uncomfortable with saying, “Sorry that’s too far outside of our budget and not affordable.” the bar is set at a level that many can’t afford. I hate to think of the amount of parents who will buy tickets to that event just to save face and end up even more strapped for cash when something comes up and they need that money.

I bet the PTO won’t be offering to refund that $300 if little Billy breaks a leg at soccer to cover those out of pocket expenses.

Plano Mom Reply:

Exactly. I’d rather spend my extra $300 covering Billy’s out of pocket for him.

Desperate Dietwives Reply:

This is very true, and yet, who knows where this $150-each business might lead? Suppose in a couple of months they throw another fundraising party and ask for the same amount or even more money.
Better speak plainly and nip the scheme in the bud: I’m pretty sure that, unless she lives in a wealthy district, not many people will be attending that party.


Comment by Plano Mom.

“I would prefer to spend my money on something where I can see a more direct benefit.”

For fundraisers, we are the parents that began the wonderful practice of “checking out.” We ask how much money does the PTO actually make from these sales, then we give a direct contribution of that amount, rather than bother with the fundraising. They get what they need and we don’t eat a lot of really bad chocolate.

I'm a big ol' b with a captial B! Reply:


Yes, a thousand times, yes!

admin Reply:

Me, too.


Comment by mtwildflower.

There is no stinking way I would pay $150 per person for a party to raise money.

If the school budget is so strapped that people have to pay for their kids to ride the bus, or for music classes or everything else that’s been cut while kids put condoms on bananas and are instructed ad nauseum on how to be nice to their gender confused classmate, then several visits to the school board meetings and a serious review of the school budget is in order.

Questions like:

How well are the kids testing in this school on a national level?

How much money are the Administrators paid?

How many Administrators are there?

How may teachers are tenured?

What is the budget for school sports and why aren’t they being cut?

How much are unions costing our district?

How much is liability insurance and who is suing the District for what?

In short, how about everyone quit pandering to the idea that “the school has no money” and actually find out where that money is being spent and show the school board you care about where it goes? Schools have tons of money and access to it, it only a matter of where it’s being spent and where.

vodka tonic Reply:

And they scramble to hand you the answers… and then what?

A Teacher


Comment by mtwildflower.

Make that….a matter of where it’s being spent and HOW.


Comment by Plano Mom.

Wendi, I forgot to tell you – I’ll bring the rabbit(s).

admin Reply:

Just make sure they’re not fluffy and cute, please.


Comment by Marie.

Our school only charges $75 for a ticket to the annual dinner/dance/silent auction. And, it’s a Catholic private school. Need I say more?


N and Em's mom Reply:

Our Catholic grade school charged $60, and there was a fabulous Italian buffet and an open bar (beer and wine), games of chance, and a silent and “public” auction. The theme of the last one we attended was “A Night at the Oscars.” Women were in evening dresses and rhinestones. The teachers were greeted by paparazzi flashing cameras, and the principal arrived with a ‘security detail.’ The most memorable outfits were spoofs of Carol Burnett doing ‘Gone with the Wind’ curtain rod and all and an Enya (sp?) swan costume. It raised nearly $90,000. The school has about 600 students K-8, and there were probably 300 people there. Not bad for a fun evening out.


Comment by Cecily.

We are taught to be too polite and believe we have to provide a reason or an excuse when declining an invitation to an event or a request to do something for someone else. It took me years to learn that no excuse for saying No is necessary. If you give an excuse, they will push you to change your mind. I just say “No, I’m sorry I can’t go/do blank.” If the other party is so rude as to press me for the reason why (and someone doing that is being very rude), my response is “Because it is not possible”. repeated until they give up.

I only tell friends or work associates why I have to refuse sometimes, but not other people.

That said, the coven excuse is the best one ever. May try it out instead of just “No”.


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

If they REALLY need the money that badly then they should simply say, “Look, we really need to raise $$$$ dollars. If each family gave $$ it would put us this much towards this goal.”

Not everything needs to be about fun. Not every fundraiser needs to be turned into a party. ESPECIALLY if they need THIS MUCH money per ticket. What are they trying to fund and buy? How much of this is going towards the ‘party’ and not the actual ‘fundraiser’.

Simply put, $150 is a ridiculous amount of money that any PTO should ever ask for in one lump sum for a ticket and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. I really hope someone knocks a little bit of reality into their warped sense of entitlement.


Comment by scrapdoll7.

All the money it will cost them to throw the party-is it at the school, is there alcohol involved-has a better use going to things for the school. I never went to those fundraisers, just made a donation. I paid a lot for sports, tuition, tho they couldn’t call it that because they weren’t allowed to charge tuition, books, kleenex, paper towels, etc. I was also on the other side of the desk buying my own crayons so I’ve seen both sides and saying “Aw, can’t go, made a donation.” is enough. You don’t owe an explanation. Just smile and wink and they’ll wonder what you’re up to. lol


Comment by Karin W.

I went to a private school growing up (and with a PTO, that’s what this sounds like too) – this scenario doesn’t sound odd to me. I know my school did stuff like that once a year. My parents never went. When someone asked, they’d tell the truth – it was too expensive for an evening out.


Comment by vodka tonic.

….let alone footing the babysitter bill. Now we’re talking over $300. I don’t understand why someone would feel embarrassed about saying no to this. No. No. No. No. No. It’s easy.

There is *no way* I’d spend this amount of money. I’ve been on all sides of the classroom, too. I know about cash-strapped schools. They’ve always been cash-strapped, nothing new there. My first year teaching was during the budget-surplus years, and even then, I was given an annual budget of $25 for supplies, books, and ancillaries for 150 students.


Comment by wendy.

Or, “I’m not going in solidarity to the many families who cannot afford such a high ticket price.” Except solidarity might not be a great word when talking to those who would propose $150 tickets. “I’m not going because I think $150 is too expensive for most families” might be a better answer.

Consider Checking Out...