Who To Invite To Your Child’s Birthday Party?

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A child’s birthday, though it’s meant to be a fun celebration of your favorite person, can often feel daunting and stressful. After deciding on a venue, theme, date, and a number of other logistics, there comes the etiquette nightmare of inviting guests. The number of guests will vary, and as your children grow older, fewer guests will be your friends and family, and more will be your children’s peers and classmates. The number of questions that need to be asked when making a guest list can seem endless: Do I know about all these children’s allergies? Do I have to invite their parents and siblings? Do any of these children have special needs? Do I need to invite my child’s entire class? How do I go about inviting these guests? Etc.


Often, parents prefer not to invite the entire class, especially as class sizes grow…logistically, it’s extremely difficult to accommodate a lot of children, and ultimately not worth the extra effort and expense if your child is not friendly with the entirety of their class. However, this raises the difficult problem of determining how to invite guests, without hurting the feelings of those who are not on the list. Some teachers are beginning to instate rules about birthday party invitations. They won’t help in distributing invites if the whole class is not attending. While this rule is understandable, it does raise a number of issues for parents.

To give invitations to the child to pass out during class risks a spectacle of who is invited and who is not, and even parents slipping invitations into cubbies during pick-ups or drop-offs could result in some kids discovering invitations in front of those who haven’t received them. Parents can use student directories and class email lists to communicate with other parents in an attempt to get home addresses, while perhaps explaining that the party will be small. Communicating with other parents also allows the opportunity to explain whether siblings and parents are allowed to attend, as well as finding out about any potential allergies or special needs.

Emma Jenner of the Huffington Post suggests using the opportunity to teach children empathy. Once you feel your child is responsible enough to care for the feelings of their peers, you can explain that party talk can’t happen during school hours. An easy way to help your child understand how to tred lightly on the matter of excluding peers is to suggest that there may be some birthday parties they won’t be invited to. This concept, though it may be upsetting, could also be a helpful preparation for a likely future event.

Though the opportunity for hurt feelings and awkwardness is unfortunately unavoidable, by openly communicating with your child, and the parents of the children who will be attending, there is a chance for both a less stressful party, and a learning opportunity for your child.

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