Birthday Party Invitations & Etiquette
Berkeley Parents Network >
Birthday Party Invitations & Etiquette
We sent out an evite for my child's birthday party to around 20 kids. Almost a week
later, we have one yes, a couple of nos, and a whole lot of silence from everyone else
(most of the people haven't even viewed the evite). My experience with parties and
evites is that a lot of people don't respond until you send a reminder a couple of
days before, but usually there are a few enthusiastic people who respond right away.
It's probably too soon to send out emails asking people if they're coming, but if we
invited 20 kids and only one is coming and we don't find out until the last minute, I
think there are going to be a lot of hurt feelings. Have you been in this situation,
and how did you handle it? Or, are you one of the parents who doesn't pay a lot of
attention to evites you receive, why not, and is there anything the host could do that
would elicit a more timely response?
wish i knew what the hell was going on
It went into their spam folder. You need to send a personal email alerting them that
you sent the evite and to check their spam folder.
They probably aren't ignoring you
I sympathize. My family has a big holiday party every year for friends, family,
neighbors, and work colleagues - around 100 grown-ups and kids. We used to mail paper
invitations till it got to be too much. Now we use Evite. Year after year, maybe 20%
of our good friends and neighbors and kinfolk RSVP within a week or 2 of receiving the
invitation. Only 20% !! These are people we see regularly! By the time I need to
plan the food, I've heard from maybe half of the invitees. I know from years of
experience that 90% of them will show up, but it is very frustrating to be guessing on
how much food we need. We follow up with all of the non-responders in person or by
email and it is very time-consuming.
My experience: A large percentage of the non-RSVPers never viewed the invitation. It
went in to their spam and they never saw it, or they saw it come in but they didn't
know what it was so they didn't read it, or they saw it come in but they didn't want
to commit yet, so they didn't view it (knowing that we would know whether they had
viewed it.) Eventually most of them will respond to the Evite follow-up, or we follow
up in person and post their response ourselves. A small percentage of the non-RSVPers
viewed the invitation and just didn't RSVP. Sample response when I ask these good
friends, neighbors and kinfolk whether they are coming to the party: ''Oh you know me
- I never RSVP! But I am coming of course!'' (Me thinking: GRRRR!!!! How hard is it
to click on the $#@^% email!!??)
1. If you have fewer than 20 guests, call them on the phone or email a personal note.
2. If you don't know them well, same. A mass-email or an Evite can seem impersonal
and optional to people who don't know you very well.
3. If you do use Evite, be prepared to follow up in email or on the phone with people
who haven't responded within a week or so.
Re paper invites: I really love the idea of paper invitations but they have a much
higher rate of being lost or ignored. My son was recently given a paper invite at
school to a friend's bday party, and we found it in the bottom of his backpack the day
of the party.
Send a regular email that says: ''Dylan is having a birthday party next Sunday at 3PM
at our house, 123 Elm Lane. We hope you can join us! Please RSVP to 510-222-2222 or
reply to this email by Thursday. Thanks! We also sent an evite, but some people have
said it didn't go through.'' It helps to remember whoever is going to come, is going
to come. And whoever isn't going to come, isn't going to come. When you invite 20
kids, it's pretty likely a couple are never going to respond in any way at all, don't
take it personally. Have fun!
I've had this issue also. I think that Gmail actually hides evites. My assumption is
that people who haven't opened the evite didn't receive it. I send individual follow
up emails that say that I'm trying to get an accurate headcount for planning purposes.
Almost everyone responds to those. The ones who don't respond have typically been
people we don't care about anyway.
I wish that people had better manners and would respond right away. But they don't and
many people think that no RSVP is needed if they're not attending. It causes me a lot
of extra stress.
right there with you
This bugs me SO much! I've started putting a ''please reply by'' date on evites
usually about a week in advance of the event date. Still there are usually stragglers
who rsvp yes after that, but at least you get a better idea. I've never had it just be
the initial 1-2 people in the end - more often than not I've been overwhelmed by late
Please RSVP people
I am guessing you will get a lot of responses on this and I will be very interested in
the answers. One thing I have learned with evite -- if you see people haven't viewed
it, it might have ended up in their spam filter.
Because of this, you might send an email to the individuals who didn't view it
separately and for each of them say, '' I am sending you an email because I know that
evites can get lost in spam. Thanks so much for your reply.'' I would be proactive
about it and not just wait. If you word it this way, people will not mind as it just
sounds like you are trying to fix a technical glitch, and even if that is not what
happened, it still will be a good reminder to them to respond and they won't feel
like you are guilting them into responding.
I do find that there is a general trend that people don't respond to evites - I don't
have an answer, and it is infuriating. However, if you need people to respond, I have
always found it works better to email people individually and/or actually call. There
is something about being sent a mass email that leads people to ignore it and
something about a personal mail that compels people to respond.
By the way, I don't think this is just an evite problem. One year I gave out paper
invites, thinking maybe I would get a better response, but found that it was about the
Sharing your evite woes
I have been in that situation. I contacted the people I thought would be most likely
to come with an individual email or phone call. I would say I don't mean to pressure
you, but I need to be able to make plans for the party. Obviously it is more work to
make the calls, but like you said you DO need to know to plan. Lots of people do not
seem to check email, so you might need to call or text.
You did not mention how far in advance of the party you sent the evite. You say it
has been a week since you sent the evites yet it is too soon to send emails to ask
people if they are coming, which leads me to think you have a long lead time. I've
had this dilemma of how to respond when my kid is invited to a party 3-4 weeks in
advance. See the post below yours about the soccer schedules. I didn't write that,
but I could have. It could be I am waiting for the soccer schedule or I might have
to work, or my husband might have to work which means I won't have the car, or I have
some other uncertainty. I only have 1 kid, so I am floored by the complicated
schedules that bigger families have to manage. I value manners and not being
wishy-washy about things but I really have a hard time planning weekends more than 1
week out. I am thinking about giving my elementary school kid his first 'real'
party, hoping an invitation sent 1-2 weeks in advance with a response 5-7 days in
advance is ok. if you are making a reservation or buying expensive tickets, then
there is some risk on your part. Maybe just talk to other families casually (at
school or by phone) to ask if they think they can make it, and they are more likely to
offer an explanation. One disadvantage of evite is if you buy 10 guest tickets to a
place or event, and only 8 can come, is it rude to invite 2 more who will obviously
notice they were added later? I am learning about the logistics of kid party planning
during rainy season when it's hard to count on good weather for a simple park party.
It is crazy expensive to do it at an indoor party place, and if only a few came, that
would be awful! I keep telling myself that it's a kid birthday party, not a wedding,
and the point is to just have fun. Wish I could just rent a living room for an
I'm wondering how parents of kids with summer birthdays
handle the question of whom to invite, especially when your
kid doesn't seem to have a lot of super close buddies.
My son is in K currently, and while there are a couple of
boys he plays with more than others, there isn't any kid who
is a 'best' friend, etc.
This doesn't seem to bother him, and he does get along with
all of the kids in his class, which is great; however, the
lack of a core group of buddies means that I'm kind of at a
loss as to who to invite to his birthday.
In the past we have held small parties for him, with only a
couple of playmates and family. This year, however, it seems
he does want a larger party. I'm considering inviting all
the boys in his class, but I wonder if that would be a
little weird, considering that he'll be in a different class
next year, with a different mix of kids.
Any input from parents who have been in similar situations?
Thanks so much in advance.
We have a daughter with a June birthday. Its been very
difficult to get the friends she wants to come to her birthday
party due to kids being on summer vacation. We resolved this
issue with having her birthday party in May, this way she gets
to invite her friends that she's currently in class works.
This has been a great solution to the problem.
I have two girls with August Bdays (one is now 16!). Until
age 10 or 11 we have always just put a slip and slide on
the back lawn and invited maybe 6 children, along with
their siblings. We've also tossed water balloons in swim
suits. We invite the kids our daughter's been playing with
from our street, as well as 2-4 friends from school.
Small parties at home or a playground are the best!
I would like to hear from moms with twins and triplets. What do you think is the
correct protocol for birthday parties. I am organizing a birthday party for my
daughter, and she wants to invite a friend who has a twin sister (she is not in the
same classroom). When I asked my daughter if she wanted to invite her friend's
sister, her answer was ''I don't know her''. Do I extend the invitation anyway..? I
really don't want to hurt anybody's feelings but at the same time I want my
daughter to decide who she wants at her party.
As the mom of twins, I feel that you don't need to invite
both siblings to a birthday party for your daughter,
especially if she only knows one of the twins. You didn't
say how old your daughter is, but since she is at least
school-age, I think that at this point the twins are
learning to develop independent friendships and can handle
one being invited without the other. Happy Birthday!
I'm a parent of twins and I appreciate the thought and care the other
into the invitation question but you should invite the girl who is
friend. It's important for twins to be known as separate people (though the
larger culture and some twin parents seem to struggle with this), with
interests and friends.
Once my kids moved into kindergarten and were in separate classes, it was only
natural that they would make friendships with different kids and that one of
them would get an invitation that the other wouldn't. It actually gave the
uninvited twin a chance to do something fun alone with a parent.
Thanks for thinking about it,
This is a great question to ask Twins by the Bay!
You didn't mention your daughter's age, but here's my twin
When my guys were young, preschool through about middle of
2nd grade, I really appreciated it when they were both
invited, because in most cases I couldn't manage being with
one guy at a party and what to do with the brother. If they
weren't both asked, I would ask if it was ok to bring both.
Some parents assume that for younger parties, when usually
parents are present, of course siblings are present and
counted as party members too.
As my guys matured, their ability to understand why one is
invited and the other is not got a lot easier.
If the mom of twins does not ask about the sibling
attending, you can ask the mom just to make sure there are
no hard feelings. Parents of twins are totally used to this
and have been dealing with it since preschool. It's really
not a big deal
Sue, mom of two guys
As a mom of twins I think the kids will ALL get to know
eachother soon enough.
Go either way i doubt harm will come if she doesnt go and
it may happen again too
I generally ask the twins' mom (or other parent) what she
thinks before I issue formal invitations - some twins are
inseparable and would be hurt by not being included, and
some really don't mind if you invite one and not the other
to a playdate or party. I figure the mom knows her kids
best and that way she knows up front I'm not intentionally
excluding one of the twins. It seems to have worked well so
far - I've had some moms say both twins would like to come,
and some say it's fine to just invite the twin we know best.
Mom of Singletons
We have boy-girl twins, so perhaps our situation is
different, but we never felt like if one was invited to a
birthday party the other should be invited even at a very
I think your daughter should invite who she wants. In
school, twins are almost always split up, so the other twin
is probably not in the same class as your daughter.
parent of twins
I am the mother of 8yo twin boys & we have received party invitations
over the years that came to both boys and to individual boys. I don't think
there is any protocol, per se, but when the kids are very young it can be
difficult for the twin who is left out.
However, if your child doesn't know the other twin it makes sense that she
wouldn't want them at her party. I have found it helpful to have a little
heads-up from the parent if there isn't much notice for the party so I can
plan something special for the child who won't be going to the party. It is
part of life for the twins to learn that they are individuals and they won't be
doing everything together. I hope this was helpful.
Hi - I am a mom of b/g 9 yr old twins and they have had
invitations extended to both of them when the know both
kids. If only one child knows the bday child, we receive 1
invitation, which makes sense to me. This is how it would
be w/any other sibling. Since the twins are not in the
same class, it makes it even easier to ''justify'' not
inviting both of them. If twins are the same gender in the
same class, I might encourage my child to extend an invite
to both explaining it might cause hurt feelings. Since
this isn't the case in your situation, it seems okay to
extend the invite to the girl in your daughter's class.
As a mother of twins, I have always operated under the
policy that invitations are for the invited person only. If
one child is invited, then that's who responds and attends.
This is especially true if only one child is friends with
the b'day child. I believe that it is important to allow
multiples to have individual identities, and friendships are
one place that this is more evident. That being said, it
was initially hard to explain things to the uninvited child
but that's not the concern of the b'day child's family. We
would do something special with the uninvited twin during
the time of the party, and we explained to both kids that,
of course, the tables would be turned at some point (and
they invariably were).
All parents of twins end up dealing with this issue. You don't say how old your
daughter is, but especially as my twins are getting older, they get invited to
separate birthday parties and they are fine with it. The first few
times we just
emphasized how they are two different people with different friends and (in our
case) in different classes, so naturally they will get invited to
I think if you are fine with how she's making up her guest list, don't
inviting only one of the twins.
Not something to worry about
I'm not sure there is a ''correct'' answer, but as a twin
myself, I know that my mother actually asked friends of my
brother and mine to feel free to invite only one of us to
things, and in certain cases encouraged it. She hoped that
this would help us feel like individuals and not a package
deal. Now as an adult, I appreciate the lengths my parents
went to to treat us as if we were just normal siblings. If
the other sibling was not a twin, would you want your
daughter to invite her? If not, I'd be inclined to just
invite the child she knows. (This said with the caveat that
being same sex twins may bring up different issues than
being boy/girl like I am!) Do you know the mother and would
you feel comfortable asking her if the solo invitation would
bring hurt feelings?
We have always welcomed siblings to join our kids'
birthday parties, so of course twin siblings are included
in that. But if you aren't generally inviting the
siblings of your child's friends to come along, then no,
you're not obligated to change that for a particular guest
who happens to be a twin.
I don't have twins myself, but have several friends who do
(including all possible gender combinations, with and
without additional siblings, ages from infant to teen),
and I assure you none of them would expect both kids to
necessarily be invited to every party or playdate that
involves one or other. Like any other parent of more than
one child, they may find it more difficult to come if
siblings aren't included, but it's generally understood
that this is up to the host. You're not required or
expected to invite siblings with whom your child doesn't
have a relationship, whether they're twins or a few years
So do whatever makes sense given the event in question and
your child's friendships. You're not violating any rules
You don't say how old the twins are, but here is my take as the mother of 4 year
old fraternal twins: I would be THRILLED if my girls were invited as
a birthday party. My girls are very different and they spend a LOT of time
together. Time with just one is rare, and if one were invited somewhere without
the other, it would give me a chance to be solo with one while the other had a
chance to have a life without her sister. Good deal for everyone. I'd do
something fun with the one who wasn't invited to make up for missing a party, &
use it as a ''teaching moment'' to discuss how they are different people with
different lives/friends/experiences bla bla bla.
I say go for it & don't worry about the other twin!
Just my take, not sure how other twin parents will feel about it.
Twins are Individuals Too!
As a mother of 2-year old twins, I would totally
understand and be fine with only one of the twins being
invited to a party. Granted, that may make it more
difficult for the invited twin to attend since that means
that someone else will need to care for the other twin
while we're at the birthday party (assuming parents need
to accompany - not sure how old your daughter is), but if
we can't go because of that reason, I suppose that's just
the way things go. But from a non-logistics point of view,
I think it's perfectly fine, and even welcomed, that each
of the twins would have their own friends and not always
have to do everything that the other twin does.
Recently we held my daughter's 4th birthday party. We invited 8
of her best friends (yes, she has a lot of friends for a 4 year
old), along with their families, including siblings, so it was a
pretty big party already. We wanted to invite more of our
friends with kids her age but figured that the party was already
too big. But then my friends without kids heard that we had a
party and are hurt that they weren't invited. Too late now, but
for next year, do I really have to invite all of my adult
friends to my kids' parties? Was I being rude or are they being
The 4th bday was about when we stopped inviting *our* friends
(even most of the ones with kids, but especially the ones
without) and started inviting our *kids'* friends, since the
kids were now old enough to have friends and preferences about
who was there. In my experience, our childless friends mostly
didn't want to be around a bunch of preschoolers, anyway.
Have a grownup-friendly party some other time and invite all
your friends, but don't feel bad about not inviting them to the
If you had had a party with your kids' school friends plus
your friends with kids, and you didn't invite your kidless friends,
then I could see why the latter would feel hurt. But if the
party is centered around your kid's kid friends, and the grownups are
there by virtue of being attached to those kids, then you didn't do anything
wrong. As I see it, here is how to navigate these tricky waters.
Next year send out the invitations to the Kid Party to the kids, so it's
clear that the kids are the Guests and whatever adults tag along to
the Kid Party are just Handlers for the Guests. Activities and food
are geared to the Guests. Note that adult food is not served to the Handlers
because this is a Kid Party. (It is considered OK for the Handlers
to eat scraps of pizza and leftover hot dogs off their Guest's
plate at a Kid Party. Handlers may also be offered their own slice
of birthday cake, though they may have to eat their cake from their
Guest's plate.) I do not believe any reasonable adult would expect
to be invited to a Kid Party unaccompanied by a Guest.
Since you seem to have a lot of friends who like your kid, and you
are a social person, you also throw a separate party for your friends
(both those with kids and without) to celebrate your kids' birthday.
At the Friend Party, the adults acquire the status of Guests and kids
now resume their traditional, secondary status. The Guests are served
grownup beverages such as sparkling water, soda, and wine; and are given
food suitable for adults on their own plates. Kids may partake of the Guest
food and may receive soda at the discretion of their Guest. One or two
food and beverage offerings centered around kid tastes but not totally
repellent to Guests should be available (e.g. pizza, cut up vegetables,
fruit juice). Cake is made equally available to all. Activities are
centered around Guest interests (conversation). At an appropriate stage
in the proceedings, kids may be invited to view a kid DVD in a separate room.
Having the separate Friend Party is a really good way to prepare for the
next problem on the horizon: where you and your friends expect your kid to
invite your friends' kids to be Guests at the Kid Party, but your kid doesn't
go to school with your friends' kids and doesn't really like them. Your
friends will be having more fun as a Guest at the Friend Party than they
are having as a Handler at the Kid Party so they won't be upset in the
slightest when you tell them that this years' Kid Party is not a Kid Party but a
Classmate Party, and you can't wait to see them and their kid at the Friend Party.
If adults' feelings get hurt over something this petty, it is totally ridiculous. My
personal limit for a four-year-old birthday party: Four child guests, plus my own
child's grandparents and/or aunts/uncles. That's it. This year my 7-year-old
daughter invited 7 friends; and my 5-year-old got to invite 5. I don't care whose
feelings get hurt.
can't please everyone!
I don't see why your choices are that you are being rude or your
friends are being ridiculous. I think it's nice they want to
attend--I've dropped my friends off the invite list as I get the
sense it's more obligation than fun.
If I were you, I'd have a casual dinner/bbq or something for your
daughter and invite your friends. They probably want to bring
gifts, and all you'd have to do is get a birthday cake for dessert.
Yay--no goodie bags!
If you really can't have them there, then be honest about
your limitations - space, money, whatever. If they are
your friends, they will understand. But your post
makes me wonder if you are not appropriately grateful
for having them in your child's life as loving, supportive
adults, even if they don't have children.
Our childless friends have been such an integral and important
part of our son's upbringing. Many of them we even honor on
mother's day and father's day with a little note or gift because
they do play a role in ''parenting'' with us. Our son feels loved,
and we as parents feel supported. So yes, when we are
celebrating my son's birth, of course they are part of that. It
wouldn't be the same without them.
Birthday parties aside, what your friends are saying is that your
kid is important to them and they want to share in celebrations
of his/her life. If you choose to see that as ridiculous, then I
think you and your child care missing out.
Ok, I am wondering how many of your grown-up friends were really
upset. If one or two in conjunction said something, maybe they
really do love your child and you should have them babysit more.
Otherwise, I think maybe they were just trying to be nice and
exaggerating the, ''Oh I wish I could have been there,'' thing. I
think you should have (and still can) just explained to them
(since they don't have kids they don't know) that while it was
pretty fun to have grown-up parties for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd
birthdays, now that she is 4, you have to concentrate on running
the pinata and it's not really appropriate to have wine and stuff
and you really don't have time to talk to your friends anyway.
Just emphasize how it's really you working at your kid's party
I have found that as my kids get older, adult friends are more and more understanding
about it being a birthday party for the kid's friends. However, I do invite about 2-3 of
my very best friends, partly because I want the HELP! We've realized this recently: it's
a lot of work having that many guests/ kids, even when they come with parents, and it
really helps to have our own assisting-type friends there, especially one who my other
kid (not the birthday kid) enjoys, to give him/her special attention.
My nine-year-old son, "Sam", was not invited to a large birthday
party of one of his friends, "Tom". We'd like some assistance in
how to approach Tom's family. Sam and Tom attend the same
school and have been friendly the last three years. Last year,
the mother told me Tom was having behavioral/oppositional issues
at home and she was not allowing any playdates with my son as
discipline. Soon after, my son became friendlier with another
couple of boys who were more available. This year, Sam and Tom
have ended up in some special classes together and now they both
hang out with Sam's newer closest friends. Tom sent out his
party invitations last week, inviting all of Sam's friends, and
not Sam, to his large party at a local park. When Sam asked Tom
why he didn't get an invitation, Tom said his mother wouldn't
allow him to invite Sam. I have tried to call Tom's home twice
and the mother hasn't called me back. Sam feels upset that he
isn't included and now Tom is saying he does want Sam to come to
his party. Neither of us can figure out why Tom's parents would
not want to include Sam. Any ideas how I can approach this?
I don't think there's anything for you to do: your son isn't
invited. It sounds like a very weird situation the other kid's
parents have created and you might never know what's really going
through their heads (maybe they have reasons, valid or invalid,
for not wanting your son to play with their son; maybe their son
asked to not invite your son, but when confronted by your son he
blamed his mom; who knows?). While it's definitely harder because
it involves kids (and not just adults), I think still etiquette
would say if you're not invited, you need to let it go.
Perhaps you should let it go and take your child to a fun place
in the same day of the party, such as Six Flags, Disneyland,
WaterWorld, Great America, etc. Just say to him something like
''Let's go to [the fun place] on [the day of the party is]. We
will have much more fun there!''
my 2 cents
My response: get used to it, it'll happen again. There isn't
always a ''rhyme or reason'' to who gets invited and who doesn't,
and the ''automatic''-seeming invitations only get fewer and
farther between as your child gets older. He's old enough now
that I don't think you can expect to be invited to every party,
nor to expect any kind of explanation from the other parents.
Chalk it up to your kid growing up; the social stuff only gets
more and more complicated, and the days of all the moms and
kids being invited to big group parties are over by this age.
Can't predict the invitations
This is not something that you control. Let it go. Your son may
get hurt by not getting invited to this birthday party. But,
there are plenty of things that he is going to be excluded from
over time (it never gets easier, does it).
There are some parents that I've tried to approach about issues
that have cropped up in our children's relationships (or parents
have approached me). Some parents have their own style that
really is not open to negotiation (or often, to reason).
Do something fun with your child that day...
Wow, it seems evident that the family does not want their son to
play with your son. I would leave it at that. Why must you have
to push them about it? It's their choice and they have a right
to it. The mother seemed to try and be polite early on by saying
''her'' son was having behavioral issues and couldn't play with
yours. Actually, maybe that was the truth. But I am reading
between the lines - perhaps she thinks your boy is not the best
influence on her son. Perhaps there is a certain energy when
your son and hers are together and she would rather not have that
energy. For whatever reason, it seems obvious she doesn't want
your son in their home. She can't control whether her son plays
with yours at school but she should be able to control what
happens at her home. So, don't push it. It sucks for your son,
and it's tough, but that's life sometimes. If you try to always
fix things for your son, he will not learn that he can't always
have everything his way and that there will be people he won't
get along with and vice versa in his life.
just deal with it
Hmm. It sounds like Tom's mother has concerns about the
relationship between your son and her son. They may be based on
nothing, on something in her imagination, or on something that
you don't know about. Are you at all friendly with her? Is
there any way you can talk about it? This may not be the case,
or it may be that her answer would not give you any insight. It
sounds like it may be likely that you can't resolve this before
the birthday party. Something like this happened to my son, and
it was very difficult. But I reminded him often that it was not
his fault, that he is a good friend to have for anyone, and that
sometimes we have to respect other people's boundaries even when
we don't understand them. Then I would make sure that we had
lots of play time with other friends.
It's obvious the mother saw that Tom was abusive towards your
son, Sam, so SHE DECIDED as a RESPONSIBLE mother to keep her son
away from yours. I understand children are children and act
like a newly wed couple, fight and make up. However, for
whatever reason, the parents have decided to not invite your
son. Please DON'T embarrass your son by pushing yourself on
them insisting they invite your son. How embarrassing for your
son. Do you realize how you are coming across? I understand
being snubbed is hurtful and I understand your maternal
instincts of wanting your child included but the fact is he has
been excluded and you can't force other parents to invite your
child to their son's party. Stop it and get your MIND out of
analyzing the reasons WHY he wasn't invited. You are probably
making a bigger stink out of it than your son is. Please, on
that day, do something special with your own child. Perhaps,
this is a wonderful lesson for your child to see how life isn't
always fair. It's all in how you look at it. Really, if the
mother doesn't want your child there, she's really doing you a
favor. You don't need to be around people who don't want your
presence, so please, get a grip, and move on with your child for
your child's sake.
mom of boys
I would probably ask the mother if there's a problem between the
boys that you should know about. That may help you understand why
the mother wants them separated. If she's says no, it's fine,
then you probably have to drop it. Yes, your son is hurt, but you
can't always come to his rescue, or he'll come to rely on you
fighting all his battles. This is pretty normal kid stuff, and
you don't want to become a ''helicopter parent''! The less of a
deal you make about it, the sooner your son will get over it.
It is crystal clear to me that Tom's mom is rejecting your son
for reasons she hasn't shared. How well or bad behaved is your
son at playdates? Tom's mom doesn't seem to dare share her
thoughts and observations with you, but this is not going to
help you or Sam. What to do? Call her one more time and
say:''I've come to understand that there si something about Sam
that you don't want him to be friends with Tom. Not knowing
what it is is breaking Sam's heart and I don't know what to
tell him, because I simply don't know. For the sake of Sam,
please call me or write me a letter or e-mail, letting us know
what we need to work on from your point of view. I will not
judge or defend or ask for more communication - I am simply
seeking clarification. If things don't look too bad for you but
supervision/monitoring are of primary concern, I could also
offer to join and provide supervision at the party. Maybe it's
the last thing you want, but I thought I should at least offer
that, unaware of the reasons. I very much hope that you feel
comfortable getting back to me.''
Can you imagine our own parents ever asking this question? I am
not judging you but I do wonder how it is we (and that includes
me) have gotten to the point where we are so highly involved in
every detail of our childrens' lives? I worry that we are
shielding them from every little pain or upset that life throws
at them and wonder how in the world they will become healthy
That being said, I would encourage your boy to have friendships
with other kids. For whatever reason (and you probably won't
ever find out since the mother obviously does not want to talk
to you) this kid is not allowed to be friends with your son.
If this type of thing comes up again, then you know the first
incident was not a fluke and you will need to explore your son's
behaviors and talk to his teachers etc to figure out why he
might be excluded from others.
Come on, you really need to stop harassing this family for the
Obviously they have an issue either with your son or with you,
that's why they excluded your son from thier kid's party and
won't return your phone calls.
It's your job as a parent to explain to your boy (if he is
trully upset about that) that sometimes other people don't feel
the same way about us as we feel about them. There are so many
all kind of people around, some are good and gracious
friends,others are not, why waste your time and energy on the
ones who clearly don't value your son's friendship ?!!!
(although I have a feeling from your post that it may be
something to do with you).
But anyway, you need to move on.
Having been on the receiving end
in different parts of my life that I would call this a 3
strikes situation. When there are at least 3 instances -
doesn't want the playdate due to behav issues, child not
invited, no returned calls, that you just have to move on. I
give the benefit of the doubt up to 2 things, but then 3 is the
kicker. This is not a chance situation - this family doesn't
want to have a relationship with you. And I mean this with
some sensitivity. I just feel that you will eat yourself up
wondering what went wrong when you should just move on. Good
luck - these matters are hard not to take personally.
OK, I need a reality check...
My kindergartner is having a birthday soon and I'm having
trouble with the invitation list. This is the first year he's
said he only wants to invite certain people. In previous years,
he said he wanted to invite everyone on the class or just never
claimed any preference. Last month (he's been talking about
his party for a while), he said he wanted to invite only the
boys. Today he said he wanted to invite boys and girls but not
everyone. I mean, yes, of course, it seems reasonable that when
it's your own birthday party, you should be able to choose the
list, but because his list changes weekly and because some of
the kids who are not on the list have parents that I'm
friends/friendly with, I feel some need to ''influence'' his
list. I mean, I asked things like ''oh, I thought you said
earlier that you wanted to invite so-and-so, what changed your
mind?'' but haven't had any substantive response.
I'm curious, how much influence do you have on your children's
birthday party guest list?
As a mom of two older children, I think we give our kids way
too much choice these days, and it does not necessarily benefit
them. You are the mother. You finalize the list. You can just
say, ''X, Y, and Z are coming because they are my good friends'
kids and the polite thing is to invite them.'' It is never too
early to emphasize that a host ensures that his guests have a
good time. And that sometimes, we invite people who aren't our
absolute best friends to functions because that is
the ''correct'' thing to do. While I am on my soapbox, may I also
add that I regret that children no longer write thank you notes
for their gifts and indeed do not say thank you at all, in most
cases. I always remind my children to thank the hostess for a
nice time when I pick them up. Because my boyfriend's children
never thank me for gifts, I have stopped giving them gifts. If
they ever ask me, I will be direct in explaining it to them.
Why are you giving your child so much control over their birthday list?
The fact that
he/she keeps changing their mind just shows that they are too young. I
say either let
them pick 3 kids to come, invite the whole class, or do boys only. You
are going to
really hurt yourself socially if you arbitrarily leave out a few kids.
It will really hurt the
parents feelings. People can deal with it if they know that you only
invited a few kids
or only kids of the other gender and theirs wasn't one of them, but if
they found out
you invited 16 random kids and theirs was one of the 4 who was left out,
they will feel
really bad and will be mad at you for a long time. So do yourself a
favor and just invite
the whole class until you kid is ready to have a 3-4 kid slumber party.
I have total control over my kids' invitation lists, for the
reasons you mention (fickleness at this age) and also because I
am paying for it! Obviously a party with 20 kids will cost
more than one with 6. I basically invite the kids they
actually have playdates with, though this year I am considering
inviting my daughter's entire class of 16 or so (knowing that
not all will come). I think for a 5 yo, it's totally
acceptable for the parent to take charge of the guest list,
with some reasonable input from the birthday child.
Not a birthday party fan, but I do it for the kiddos!
you're the parent, you're hosting the party, therefore you
control the invitation list. Every year I tell my child how
many friends she can invite to her party. This year she will be
5 - so she can choose 5 friends to invite. If she only wants to
invite 4 friends, or 3, great. She is a child, so I define the
limitations and she is thrilled to make a few small choices.
I did not let my son make the guest list until he was older. Even then
I screwed up and he didn't invite someone he should have. He claimed
this kid had been mean to him so I left him off the list (we were
inviting about 10 kids). Of course the next week they were tight buds
again, and it was totally embarrassing. Also, ten is the wrong number.
strongly believe now that you have to either have a very small party
(5 guests max), or invite everyone in the class. Small is totally
fine but medium is not: people will feel left out.
Hi! These birthday parties are indeed tricky. But you are the
adult and you have a lot of say in what kind of party your family
chooses to have and who will be invited. This is a wonderful
opportunity to teach your child to be generous, inclusive and
considerate of everyone's feelings. I strongly suggest inviting
everyone if you can since he is in kindergarten, which is an age
when all the kids are likely to play together. Or, invite only
the boys because then it will be clear to the girls that it was a
''boy party'' only and therefore they will be less likely to feel
left out and suffer hurt feelings. As your child gets older it
is normal that he will be more discriminating about who gets
invited and the list of true friends might include boys and
girls. In that case, invitations are never passed out at school
-- they are sent through the mail or e-mail and your child is
asked not to talk about the party at school so that those who
weren't invited don't feel left out. Kids should always be told
not to talk about the birthday parties at school (unless they
KNOW the whole class was invited) and to be considerate of the
feelings of others.
I also have a kindergartener so I have been down this road. I
think if you are having a small party, like 4 or 5 children,
then your child gets to pick the kids - that is what we did this
year. On the other hand, if it is a large party, he needs to
invite either ALL the boys OR the WHOLE class. Kindergarten is
way to young to start being exclusionary, especially since it
seems like they have a different best friend every day of the
Reasonable to choose yourself who to invite? In kindergarten?
What if he wants to invite Santa Claus? I don't think you should
see this as you ''influencing'' his choices. I think you should see
it as another opportunity to teach your child about your family's
ethics. Do you think he should invite the whole class or do you
want him to begin practicing being exclusive? Explain to him how
it is that you come to decisions about this and he gets to begin
to understand that birthday parties are not just about what you
''want'' but also about how to behave, how to treat other people,
etc. I don't meant to sound heavy-handed about something as
simple as a birthday party, but I also think you can expect a
five year old to change his mind every twenty seconds, and I have
spent lots of time listening to kindergarten kids saying, ''I'm
not inviting you to my party'' every time they feel mad at a friend.
The good thing about not inviting everyone is that the kids can
actually interact and have a social experience. Yes, it would be
easier if it was just ''all the boys'' or something like that, and
you should remind him that the school rule is not to talk about
who you are inviting and not inviting at school. As for your
influence, you should just pick a (small) number, like maximum
10, and have him choose that many friends. Do it on one day and
then send the invites and that is that.
I believe the recommendation is for kids to have no more guests at a
party than their
age. THat would be five or fewer guests for your child. Tell him to
choose 5 people
for his party, then make and send the invitations so that he can't
change his mind. If
you feel that this is not going to seem special enough, then use the
money you will
save by having fewer guests to do something special. YOU are in charge
of the party,
not him, so, yes, you do get a say in the guest list.
in favor of sane parties
Yes, I had the same problem, with my kindergartener too. One
time, when she was younger and in pre-school, I went with her
list (and excluded some kids, because she did not mention
them,or changed the list daily), which turned out to be a grave
error in judgement. Later that day she was wondering why the
others did not come, and later I found out that the feelings of
those who did not get invited were really hurt, because as much
as you don't want to let them know, they will always find out
who had a birthday and who was and was not invited. Since that
experience, I use my own judgement, and use a lot of influence
on my daughter to either invite everybody in a classroom, or,
if it is going to be school friends/other friends mix, make
sure to have an event in school with everybody (we love
birthday parties anyway), and then maybe invite a few very
close friends (that I am friends with their parents) for the
other occasion. At her age, she is always happy to see as many
people from her class as possible, and so I am the boss in
making party decisions. We love big parties, too...
The rule we have is: no more kids than will fit at the dining
table. This sets the expectation that she can invite 7 friends.
Only. As for who she invites, she is allowed to invite anyone
she wants, but she understands that she can't change her mind
after the invitations are out. It's hard explaining that not
everybody can be invited to everything, but it's a good lesson to
learn early. Personally, I think people who invite whole
classrooms to a small child's party are nuts!
Happy with small parties
I think your child is much too young to have the final say on his own
list. There are
social ramifications he can't possibly understand at such a young age.
was best friends with the little girl across the street from nursery
school through 4th
grade. Needless to say, her mother and I were close also, having spent
carpooling, etc. In 5th grade, the girls had some sort of falling out,
and my daughter
refused to invite her ''ex-friend'' to her birthday party. The neighbor
and her daughter
didn't speak to us for years. They did invite my husband and me (but
daughter) to the daughter's wedding last summer. The whole thing seems
childish, but it was uncomfortable, and if you can avoid a similar
situation by insisting
that your son invite your friend's child, I'd say do it!
You have COMPLETE control - you are the parent! We had the following birthday party
guidelines from year 1: Family party/dinner every year - meaning just Mom, Dad, and
sibs - birthday boy chooses food. Party with friends - every couple of years. Number
of invited guests equals child's age. That lasts until they want sleepover parties
(around 9 or 10) and then guests are limited to 4 or 5 max. They do need to go to
sleep at some point and party ends at 10 am. We have done lots of fun things over the
years for parties - miniature golf, Air Museum near Oakland Airport, football theme
with games in back yard, paper airplane party. Parents and party-goers all had a good
I guess I agree that the party is best kept to a small number of
kids (probably turning 6 in kindergarten, so 6-10 kids, max), but
disagree with many of the posters about how much say your child
should have in the guest list. By kindergarten, the party is a
celebration for HIM, not for you, like when he was younger. He
should celebrate with kids he enjoys spending time with. It's
not your job to keep your adult friends happy by telling your
child who HIS friends should be. It's his job to start learning
to make possibly difficult choices, understand the ramifications
of his choice, and that he can't keep changing his mind once a
guest list is settled on (there will be other parties, and lots
of other play opportunities), and the intricacies of being a fun,
yet gracious host. Of course you should help him think through
why to invite/not invite certain kids (including consideration of
feelings, but please don't start guilting him into always making
decisions based ONLY on the feelings of others; his feelings are
important, too). He may not be invited to the parties of kids he
excludes, but dealing with that disappointment, and understanding
that other hosts also have to make difficult choices with limited
resources, is also an important part of life.
Those families who ''didn't talk to us for a year'' after being
excluded from a particular party are just acting childish.
Letting something like that get in the way of life means they are
missing out on some good times - and that, sadly, is their loss.
While we all want kids to grow up considerate of others, it's
not your job (or your child's) to make sure that no one is ever
My daughter will be turning 12 in a few weeks. She does not
want to invite a girl who lives across the street to her
party. The mother and I are good friends and we carpool
together. The daughter has said some mean things to my
daughter and my daughter doesn't really hang out with her at
school although they do carpool together and have almost every
class together. My daughter's friends find this neighbor very
annoying and mean too. I actually find her very annoying as
well. The problem is that neither my daughter or I want to
hurt this little girl's feelings but my daughter really doesn't
want to have her at her birthday party. I'm not sure what to
do. She has gone to every other birthday party my daughter has
had (always with the same dilemma) and my daughter has always
been invited her hers. If we don't invite her what do I say to
the mother, if anything? What does my daughter say when the
neighbor asks if she is having a birthday party? I understand
that in life we must do things sometimes that we don't want to
do but this is my daughter's birthday...her day. What to do???
It seems to me that not inviting her is too powerful a statement, given the prior
involvement of the families. Surely she will see the party in progress, since she
across the street. On the other hand, her ways of relating to others needs help,
feedback. Could you, and your daughter, give her more direct feedback on her
actions? When she says ''mean'' things, tell her that she is saying mean things
make you not want to be friends with her? Discuss it with your daughter, and
out some responses to the most frequent transgressions, and then use them. This
could possibly end up being a beneficial lesson for all concerned.
I may be in the minority in this, but I think it's mean not to
invite her, especially when you have invited her through the
years. It's part of being in a community and being a neighbor.
You say that the other girl is mean, but it seems to me that your
daughter is being mean to a girl that doesn't have a lot of other
friends. I think part of the problem in our society these days is
intolerance. Not just of skin color or religion, but of anyone
who isn't ''cool'' enough. You can teach your daughter a good
lesson in seeing the good in people. Also, treating the neighbor
girl kindly in spite of her own shortcomings is a better way to
be in society than just cutting her off. You will damage your
friendship with the mother if you don't invite her and you will
cause issues with the both of them as neighbors.
a good neighbor
Don't invite this neighbor. In fact, I would consider
distancing myself from her a bit so that you don't find yourself
in this situation every year. Require that you invite a mean,
rude girl to your daughter's birthday? I would find other
carpool mates too, if she is indeed that mean, why would you
want to put her in that situation on a regular basis?
Help your daughter make good friendship decisions
I'm not really sure what you should do, but I'd like to offer a
little perspective from the other side of childhood....
I grew up next to a boy my age. Our parents were friends, and we
were when we were little. As time went on, we grew apart--we had
different groups of friends and were in different classes. We
went through times when we really didn't associate--I might have
said he was annoying, as your daughter says about her friend. We
hardly saw each other in high school.
We are now in our 30's, married with children, and live in
different states. We are great friends. We visited each other in
college and went to each others weddings. Our parents don't live
near each other anymore, but we still keep in touch. He's one of
the few people I would say that really know me as I am, fully. He
has seen the whole story, even when that story didn't involve him.
I would be very sad today if my mother had allowed me to do
anything that would have truly ruin that friendship, even because
of very large differences between us at the time.
Just something to think about
We had a similar situation, not that the girl was nasty just that
she had some personal habits that were not easy to ignore. For
elementary school,we invited back and forth but by middle school
we just stopped and nothing was mentioned. The easy course would
be to host a birthday party not in your house but somewhere
else....movies and pizza?
just a thought
You should talk to the parents of the neighbor kid your child no
longer wants at her birthday parties, and work out as a team of
parents the best way to handle it. Or/and hold the party at
another location, not at your house. It's a very different
matter not to be invited when there's no avoiding the party
itself: Our son has some behavioral issues, and it's been
difficult when the next door neighbors stopped inviting him to
their birthday party, especially when the party was at the house
and we were having to watch and listen to it next door all day.
It would have been very helpful if they had discussed the matter
with us first. We probably would have explained to our son the
real reasons why he wasn't invited to the party, because his
politeness was not up to their standards, or whatever the real
problems are that he could improve on - but also planned
something else for our child to do elsewhere, so that the
punishment of hearing the party would not go on and on and on
all day, which is a long time for a little kid. We explained to
our son the next door neighbors didn't always like his behavior,
but we were not sure which bad things he did were the problem;
we know he got out too many toys at their house, for example.
We said they might not they might not like our behavior either.
It would have been nice if the parents had had a good
relationship, as you seem to, to talk over with the other
parents what is going on, and work as a team on how to handle
it. As it was, it caught us by surprise, and made it worse. My
son, bless his heart, poked his head over the fence and said
very politely,"Hi Joey, looks like a nice party. Happy
Birthday" Then there was an awkward silence and Joey and his
parents looked like real creeps in front of all their guests.
Then we took our son out for the rest of the day when we had
important things to do at home, when we could have organized our
weekend easily to be away for most of the party time had we
known about the party in advance. It severed any possibility of
a future good neighbor relationship.
been on the other side of the fence
I have heard of similar scenarios, quite similar in fact and
there is always much regret for not having invited the neighbor.
There is no going back once the event is over and the invitation
not extended. If the girls are together everyday in a car pool
and in all classes the resentment that will grow from being
excluded and the hurt will come back around to you. They are
together so much.....unless you are ready for all the
repercussions from this--invite the neighbor, be as pleasant as
possible to her, gently guide her when she gets out of line and
move on. Take the higher road!
Taught my daughter to take the higher road!
I don't understand why you just don't invite the neighbor? It
is part of one day! You can turn this into a lesson that we can
be gracious and kind neighbors even to those we don't like as
much as others.
I'd say go ahead and invite her. If all the others are around 12
years old and know the girl and her usual behavior they can just
try to take it easy and ''ignore'' that kid's behavior. I'm sure
that girl is not enjoying being where she is socio-emotionally...
Otherwise you'll probably create a very awkward situation with
your neighbor/friend, unless you are willing to let go of the
friendship/neighborly relationship/carpooling (not saying it WILL
happen, but it might).
This one is easy - been through it (the ride share, the not
being friends nor having the same friends). You let them know
that you're dealing with a limit of guests to invite and would
like to honor the relation by taking the neighbor's daughter
and yours out to a special birthday dinner (Pizza, Mexican -
whatever)a few days before the party. Now the spell is broken
of having to invite the kids to each others birthdays. Still
friends with the parents (who suggested the dinner), still ride
sharing. Everyone wins.
You are not obligated to invite the girl if she's not, or is no
longer, a friend of your daughter. I would simply not mention the
party/birthday (and remind your daughter not to mention it during
carpool). If the girl or her mother asks, be ready with a kindly
truth or half-truth, so as to not hurt the girl's feelings. Say
something like, ''Oh, Sally wanted a really small party for her
birthday this year.'' This won't work if you're planning a party
for 50 and they all show up on your doorstep in view of the
neighbor, but any reasonably small gathering can pass for ''small''.
only obliged to be kind
I would sit down and talk to the other parent and child HONESTLY.
Tell them that it is the girl's behavior which is keeping her
from being invited to the party, and although you would very much
like to have a social relationship with the daughter, until she
starts to be more pleasant to be around, you will not extend an
invitation to her.
This is an important wake up call for this family. Unless they
start addressing the ''mean girl'' behavior now, they will find
themselves with an impossible teenager.
Reformed Mean Girl
Sorry I did not read the original post, but just read the
responses. When I was about 8, we had a carpool of 3 girls who
were also in my class at school. Jane had a birthday party and
called the other girl in my car pool but not me. I had always
invited both of them to mine. By accident, the birthday party
was mentioned in the car on the way home on Friday before the
party that weekend. I luckily had a book in my hand and
promptly pretending to be reading it, once the eye glances
started. Once I was dropped off, I came home to a babysitter.
I remember distinctly, even today that tearful phone call I
made to my Dad at work.It wasn't that I wanted to be invited, I
was hurt that they were talking about it even though they ALL
knew I was not invited. The next morning Jane's Mother called
and said Jane was in tears about the party and lack of
invitation and could I come over inspite of what had
transpired.For the sake of being the better person, my Mother
came with me and we stayed just for half an hour with the
excuse of having a prior commitment. We took a nice gift. You
could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. All the children
were so quiet when I walked in. Sitting here, having been
reminded of this story from all the responses, I have tears
rolling down my face. Jane and I stopped being friends after
that day. My family made an excuse to stop being in the carpool
altogether, the other family stopped after a few weeks also. In
hind sight it would have been better for them not to invite me
last minute and just leave things as they were.You must do what
you feel is right, but your decision will be final.
I hope you can stand one more response, even though I know it's
probably too late for your decision. I am the mother of one of
the girls who doesn't get invited to playdates and parties. She
has social problems, in addition to learning disabilities and
neurological problems. She can be difficult, but she can also
be really sweet. It breaks my heart when she hears about all of
the playdates and parties that the other girls are having that
she isn't invited to. I also wonder what ever happened to ''it
takes a village''? Why can't we help our kids to be more
sympathetic towards other kids. I'm not saying that we should
make kids play with each other if they don't want to, but in
the case of a birthday party where all the other girls are
invited, wouldn't it be the kind thing to teach our kids about
compassion? It's only a few hours on one day. When my daughter
complained about a classmate who is even more socially awkward,
I talked to her about how some kids need a little extra help
and understanding, and I arranged for a playdate. It did
wonders for both of them! The parents who have encouraged their
kids to play with my daughter have been wonderful, and it has
helped my daughter quite a bit. She is learning more about
socially acceptable behavior and making good friends. When she
is excluded, it makes her more anxious, and she doesn't have a
chance to make things better. I know that other families aren't
responsible for my child, but would it really hurt to have
another kid at your birthday party?
I've sent out invites for my son's birthday. Good news is that
many of the invitees can join (family members and friends). The
bad news is that none of the parents with kids can attend due
to various conflicts. I'm wondering if I should reschedule for
another time, when at least a couple of the kids can join, or
if I should stick to the date and have a toddler party without
You don't say how old your child is, but my 3-year-old didn't
really care that there were only adults at her party. I think
the only way a child at this age would have expectations that
could be disappointed is if they have been to a lot of other
b-day parties with lots of kids. I like the adult-only version
in that the kid gets to be the undivided center of attention and
you don't have to ride herd on a wild screaming mass of toddlers.
Have the party as scheduled. Your son won't know any different.
It's actually less overwhelming if there aren't kids there at
those early birthdays I think. Big plus, your son can have the
pleasure of opening his presents - and the relatives & friends
can enjoy that too - whereas when other little kids are there,
the tendency is to hold off. If he's turning one or two (you
didn't say), he's not all that interested in other kids yet
either (the 'parallel play' stage). If you did change the date,
there is no guarantee you'd definitely get kids, and you might
lose some of the folks who already RSVPd. Changing the date
should be just for illness or emergency not to get a better guest
list IMO. Have fun!
You don't say your child's age. If under age five, I'd not worry
if the other kids can't come. They won't realize it. We did not
have a friend party for our kids until their 3rd birthdays. Once
they are school age they tend to notice but before that, they
really should be fine. If they are younger than 6, they shouldn't
have more friends than their age if any at all. I think some of
these baby and toddler birthday parties get way out of control.
Definitely make an effort to get some kids, but without the hassle of
Take this as an opportunity to get to someone new from the neighborhood,
or a friend
from your child's school that they might want to know better. This is a
branch out and make new friends!
My four year old daughter is in a pre-k class of about twenty
kids, and we will be having a party for her fifth birthday.
Last year we invited the whole class (she was in preschool at
the same place) plus some playgroup friends and neighborhood
playmates, and ended up with almost thirty kids (thankfully not
at our home, haha) AND we also ended up with almost thirty
gifts, of course. My husband, who is anti-clutter and
constantly bothered by all the mess that goes with kids who
play at home a lot, was beside himself and wants to note on the
invites this year ''no gifts'' -- I would rather get them and
then either donate or recycle some things that are not up her
alley -- he also wants to pare down the list and not have the
whole class but I feel funny not including all the children,
even if I mail the invites instead of putting them in cubbies
at school (I would mail them anyway) -- I know there have been
a few parties that my child has not been invited to, and I
admit that it has bothered me, although I don't think it did
her. At this age I don't think that kids should have the
option of ruling anyone out -- I think that parents can decline
the invite if they feel that their child is not compatible with
the birthday child, etc. I would love to give my daughter a
fun party with all her playmates and not worry about excluding
anyone or having too many toys in the living room. Anyone have
thoughts on any of this?
Dear Party Softie, That is WAY too many kids for a child that age to have at a
Talk about overwhelming. I think it's suggested by early childhood professionals
to invite the number of children per years old of the host. So, this would mean
having her pick five of her closest friends. And, if you do feel the need to
have 30 kids, it's kind of rude to recycle or donate the gifts that people took
time to pick out for your child. Your husband's suggestion is a good one.
Another good idea is having people bring a wrapped book each and then have each
of them take one home to keep for themselves. I'm sure you and your family get
your daughter enough gifts to keep her happy.
-Keep it simple
If you want to invite the whole class, you can opt to do a book exchange, in
which each child (including the birthday kid) brings a gift-wrapped book. At the
end of the party, each child selects a book to take home. Or you could ask for a
toy to donate to toys for tots, which you can save until holiday time.
Or, you can cut the guest list way back. If you do this, you must mail or
personally deliver the invitations to the guests' homes. It doesn't hurt to tell
the parents of the invitees that not everyone in class is invited so maybe they
can talk to their kids about not discussing the party at school. And be sure to
instruct your child on this too. Kids loooove to talk about their birthday
parties at that age, so be sure you child understands that she could be hurting
the feelings of other kids in the class if she does so.
We always just opted for the big blow-out parties with 25 or so kids at that age.
We gave our kids the big parties at ages 4,5, and 6, then we started really
scaling back at age 7 when their friendships start to become more selective
Why not invite just his best friends plus the kids from play group and have a
''party'' at the pre-K for all the kids there.
Talk to the teachers but at my daughter's schools you can bring cupcakes the day
of the BD and everyone sings happy birthday and celebrates. That way you don't
have to worry about gifts either marga
My husband also hates the clutter of many gifts. For my daughter's upcoming 9th
birthday party, we are trying something
new: a grab bag. Each child brings a modest, wrapped gift; towards the end of
the party, instead of a goodie bag, each child gets one of the grab bag gifts.
Our neighbor did this with great success and I've decided that it is the only way
to go when you have a big party Ann
How about this. Have a birthday party in a local park. Make it a potluck & invite
everybody. That takes care of the space, clutter & clean up issues (other than
cleaning up your picnic) and there's automatically stuff to do- kids never tire
of swings and jungle gyms. Also I've observed presents are less of an issue if
there is some fun craft activity or such that everyone can do Room for everybody.
We went to a party years ago that stands out as one of the best we've attended.
It was held at the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in the Marin Headlands, and the
invitation said ''DON'T buy any present but please bring the money you would have
spent on the present to the party in cash or a check.'' Then, the kids got a
wonderful tour of the facilities and they saw where their money went -- surgery
on an injured sea lion or medication for a sick sea otter. And they even got to
see a recuperated sea lion released into the ocean (I think that it not an
everyday occurrence so don't tell the kids to expect it.) My kids still talk
about that day years later. Hope your party is fun!
''No More Presents'' Mom
In the past, we've had both large and small parties for our kids. When it has
been a handful of kids, we allow presents. When there are more than a certain
number of kids, we ask invitees to bring a book (wrapped, of course) for a book
exchange. (We have also been to a birthday party where everyone brought a present
but then got to leave with a present.) The birthday child gets to distribute the
books/presents. Our kids have never noticed that they didn't get a mountain of
presents -- having the party itself is exciting enough. Of course, the kids at
the party absolutely love it and we are always relieved not to have to bring in a
ton of new toys into our house Hope this Helps
For my son's 4th birthday, we invited his entire preschool class and some of our
friends to his party. I, too, hate to leave anyone out. On the invitations sent
to his classmates, we requested that they donate a book to the school instead of
bringing a gift. At the time, my son spent more waking time at school than home,
so it was a gift that both he and his classmates could enjoy. We put no such
request on the invites to our friends, so he had a few gifts to open after the
party, not to mention all the gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
It worked really well. One or two people seemed embarassed upon seeing some
gifts not to have brought a gift to the party, but once I explained what we had
done, it was fine Susan
We too limit the number of guests our son can invite to his birthday parties,
partly with my own ulterior motive of controlling the clutter that accompanies
the deluge of birthday gifts if his entire class were invited to the party. (We
don't explain it to my son that way, though, we just emphasize the positive of
being able to give full attention to a handful of guests at the party.)
Some kids are very social, though, and do enjoy having the entire class attend
their birthday party, so there's nothing inherently wrong with that (as long as
parents of invited guests respond to RSVPs--ahem!). My son has received
invitations to whole-class birthday parties requesting ''no gifts'', and this has
been totally OK with us. Other ideas--request each kid bring a new or gently
used toy or book in lieu of a gift to collectively donate to a charity in the
birthday child's name; or have each kid bring some material to contribute to an
art project (like a quilt or
something) that they can all assemble at the party--their collective ''gift'' to
the birthday child.
After the party is over and the guests have gone home, present your child one
really cool gift she has been asking for her birthday Anti-clutter
well, I am in the same situation. Here are a few thoughts on the various things
asked: As for gifts, I can understand your husband's perspective and yours.
Everyone WANTS to bring a gift to a birthday party, that is a part of our social
custom. I know when I have been asked to not bring a gift, I feel awkward about
honoring the request. Usually I will bring some flowers or something from our
garden so as to not go ''empty-handed'' - but in years past I have put on my
daughters invitation ''Gifts are unnecessary, but if you feel you must, books are
always welcome...'' There may be such a thing as too much clutter/toys but who
has ever complained about too big a library??!! This way, your daughter gets
something to open, people get to bring a gift which makes them feel good, and no
clutter is created by unwanted toys. It is also a nice message about the
importance of literature...(and books are easy to exchange if you get any
duplicates). As for inviting the whole class, your daughter is old enough to
choose who she would like to invite - at almost five she is probably choosing her
own friends and making her own connections. It is a good opportunity to teach
some social skills - ''if you accept an invitation to someone else's party, then
it is appropriate to invite them to yours...'' I understand about not wanting
kids to feel left out but these are the realities of life and knowing how to deal
with being ''left out'' is more valuable than getting disingenuously invited and
disingenuously attending everything in order to prevent the inevitable...
It's a tough one, good luck!
20-30 kids sounds like a LOT!
Our formula is age of child +1 or 2 = number of guests. It can be overwhelming
for a young kid to have so many guests and so many presents. Not to mention
expensive! Advantages: The birthday kid gets more attention if there are fewer
kids, the line or wait for games, pinata, etc. is shorter, each kid gets more
turns, gifts are more meaningful when you can remember who gave them to you, and
a child of this age is better equipped to write a half-dozen thank-you notes than
20 or 30. Plus, at this age, and with a small number of kids, you can sort of
rig any games so everyone wins something.
Some options to inviting the whole class might be to invite just the girls (or
boys as the case may be), or mostly neighborhood friends + 1 or 2 from school.
Feelings of being left out come up if it is widely talked about and all the kids
with the exception of a few are invited. Boys not invited to a girls party
probably won't feel left out, and vice versa. If only a couple from the class
are invited, there's less talk about it, and it gives an opportunity to teach
sensitivity (i.e. not bragging about the party and who's invited).
I'm looking forward to reading your other responses. I, too, love hosting the
kids birthday parties,and agree that hurt feelings are no good, but I can't help
feeling that many birthday parties are a bit over the top these days -Keeping it
small and sane
You are right on to take the initiative to invite the whole class. It is simply
the nice thing to do, and we are all trying to raise nice kids, right? Excluding
a few kids just feels yucky.
My almost 4 year old has been going to the same daycare/pre- school since he was
6 months old. No one there does the invite the whole class party thing,
especially now that they are older and definately have a core group of friends
they always play with. I'm not insulted when he isn't invited to a party,
especially if it's for a kid he doesn't play with. I don't need to be spending
money on a gift and 1/2 a precious weekend day for a kid my son isn't friends
with. It's not fair to expect our kids to get along with everyone and be friends
with everyone just because they're in the same class, as we don't hold ourselves
to that same standard either. At my work when someone gets married or has a
party, they just invite their close workmates and not the 20 plus people in the
So I always just invite the 3 or 4 kids that my son always talks about playing
with, plus our neighborhood/mom's group friends. That way we can do a nice party
that isn't a total stress for me, give out a nice gift bag with a decent present
instead of a bunch of cheap stuff and the kids can actually interact with each
other instead of being in total chaos anon
Do a book swap; have everyone bring a wrapped book and every kid takes one home
My son's preschool had a policy that if one classmate was invited, all should be.
My son has a winter birthday that made that really difficult, as we don't have a
large space in our home to accomodate so many kids, and the park in December was
not an option. I, like you, had all kinds of social angst about leaving anyone
out, but in retrospect I honestly think the parents cared more than the kids
about not being invited. And I cared more than my son when people simply didn't
show up or respond to the invitation at all. In the end, there were almost 20
parties of 20 kids over the year, and we all had burn out.
Many families spent oodles of money renting spots for parties.
So, if you have a choice, I'd strongly suggest you make the party for the one
person you're celebrating-- your daughter-- and make it as she would like it to
reformed party momma
My mother had a rule that the number of children invited to a party was equal to
their *new* age -- i.e. a 5 year old gets to have 5 guests. I know, it sounds
like a tiny party, but it makes sense because kids really don't need to have a
zillion presents, and having fewer kids make it possible for them to play
together without a lot of drama. Also, it makes giving the party a lot easier,
and you can spend a bit more to make it special. If you're determined to invite a
whole gaggle of kids, I'd suggest having a park party, so that there's lots of
room and invite parents, too, so that there's adequate parental coverage. Oh, and
if you do decide to keep it small, make sure you mail the invites (as you said
you would), rather than bring them to school. You don't want to hurt anybody's
feelings! I can't imagine having 30 kids at a party for such a young person!
The whole birthday party thing is so tricky, I'm curious to hear what other
parents have to say. I would suggest either inviting the whole class and saying
either ''your presence is your present'', ''no gifts please'' or ''small or
handmade gifts only please'' on the invitation. It might feel awkward but I am
relieved when I receive such an invitation. Or you could invite a small (4-5)
group to the party, although it does get into the picking and choosing thing for
your kid. Either way I would put the focus on something other than the gifts.
Well, I'm in your camp: It's more fun to invite lots of people and receive lots
of gifts. (And I always have the parties in my own home, too!) But that doesn't
help, because I'm not married to you!
The real issue here isn't whether inviting the whole class is ''right'' or not --
there is no etiquette rule on the subject, except that one shouldn't exclude a
small minority. In other words, inviting the whole class is fine, inviting all
the girls but no boys is fine, inviting all the 5-year-olds but not the 3-
year-olds is fine, inviting 3 people is fine. The only thing that isn't fine is
inviting the whole class EXCEPT for 3 people.
The real issue is that you and your husband have a conflict about what sort of
party fits into your life. And nobody can resolve that conflict except you and
your husband. (And by the way, what does your daughter prefer? I think she's
old enough to express her wishes and have them respected, to the extent you are
able. My own son, at the same age, agreed that a smaller party than he'd
previously had would be good, and afterwards we had an interesting conversation
about how that had been better in some ways and worse in other ways than a bigger
party.) Donating ''excess'' gifts sounds like the sort of compromise that should
work, but apparently that isn't the whole story for your husband. Is he
concerned about the expense? Is he afraid of the amount of work involved? Or is
he just the sort of person who doesn't LIKE big parties? If you can figure out
what the real issues are, you should be able to find a solution that will satisfy
everyone. Good luck!
I am, like your husband, anti-clutter. When we had a birthday party for my son I
asked on the invites for guests to bring one gift wrapped book for a book
exchange. We wrapped and couple of books my son picked out and for the party we
put them all into a basket. then He got to distribute a book to each child during
the party. no gift bags and no pile of toys. we had a great time. By the way, I
got the book idea from BPN. check out the archives pro-party, anti-clutter
Here's a hybrid solution for you -- its what I have done in the past (and will do
again in a couple of months):
Ask to bring cupcakes (or whatever) to pre-school for your child's birthday.
Your child will feel special, and no one is left out --- but no one is obligated
to come up with a gift or a reciprocal party invitation.
Then, separately, I'd host a birthday party for no more than 4 or 5 of his
friends, whether pre-K or other. Presents he receives at the party are from kids
who are actually his favorite friends, and the party is more fun.
At his age I would still invite the parents to attend the party, too, or at the
very least be sure my husband was there to help herd little boys, etc.
I also learned from a child this age that the best party entertainment ever was
cardboard boxes left from a recent move -- not the coy little beanbags and
fishing rods I'd lovingly made for the occasion. It was hard to be grown up
enough to give up my vision of what my child's party would be like... but boy did
we have fun!
I agree that it's rude not to invite the entire class - but there are a few
things you might be able to do. You could only invite the girls (I think you
referred to a daughter), but they're probably a little young for that. You could
also throw a 'group' party with other kids in the class that have a birthday the
same month. I've always done that with my kids and it works out great. Your
kids get a party and you get to share the expense. Instead of gifts, we do a
Every child brings a wrapped book. At the end of the party, each child gets to
choose a book. Everyone gets a gift - and no gift bags needed!
We then followup with a small party at home for family and close friends. The
birthday child gets more than enough gifts then
My daughter's third birthday is quickly approaching. In the
past our celebrations have only included her small extended
family (grandparents and a few uncles and aunts), but this year
we would like to invite several of her friends to the party.
Unlike my daughter, about half of these friends have two-mommy
or two-daddy families. My husband's parents, who live in a small
town within driving distance of the Bay Area, have made many
comments over the years that clearly show their
discomfort/unfamiliarity with gay and lesbian people. We don't
think that they would be likely to make such comments in front
of our friends, but we are worried about how they might react
when they ask a partygoer what her husband does for a living,
for example, only to hear her reply, ''she's a teacher,'' and we
worry that their reaction might make our friends uncomfortable
in turn. (What we expect, based on past situations when the
grandparents have felt uncomfortable, is whispering, staring,
and general clamming up rather than overt hostility). I don't
think that a prior warning to the grandparents will help,
because they will attend in any case and then will know exactly
who to whisper about and stare at. And because we don't know
precisely how they will react, I feel like we would be putting
our guests in the position of acting as unwitting social guinea
pigs. The only solution that has occurred to me is to throw two
separate birthday parties, one for family and the other for
friends, but I dread doing all the extra work, and I think my
daughter would enjoy seeing all of her loved ones at the same
party. Has anyone else faced a similiar situation? Is there an
obvious solution here that I've overlooked?
A Hostess and a Cupcake
As a lesbian, I can tell you we are used to this sort of thing.
I encourage you to have one party because, as you said, your
daughter would like to have all her loved ones with her. After
a few of these yearly parties, your in-laws may even come to
like some of your friends.
Tough situation! But, ultimately, your husband's parents are
being very out of line. You are inviting them to YOUR house.
If they are uncomfortable with your guests because of something
that is none of their business, they either need not to attend,
or learn to be respectful and not act like their in junior
high. Granted, you can't change who they are. But you can
tell them your expectations of conduct. I realize that this
would cause tension which is exactly what you want to avoid.
But you are giving them way too much control, and some tension
may not be avoided. Perhaps they would prefer taking their
grandchild on a birthday excursion, instead? This allows them
to celebrate with their granddaughter and you don't need to
throw two parties. If your daughter is concerned that her
grandparents won't be at her birthday party, then let her know
that she will be having a very special day with her
grandparents, instead. I know that it's easier for me to say
this than to actually do, but this is probably a better
alternative than to having everyone in the same room with
tension, if your parents-in-law aren't willing to conduct
themselves properly. There is no reason that everyone else
should have to suffer because two people are uncomfortable with
something they don't understand. I'm sorry that you have to
deal with this! Best of luck.
I think the option you've overlooked is that you are not
responsible for your in-laws' behavior or for the feelings of
your gay/lesbian friends, unless you personally have done
something to insult them. I am a mom in a 2-mom family and we
sometimes attend birthday parties or other events where it is
abundantly clear that certain guests don't approve of our
family situation. In a million years, I wouldn't hold the
party host responsible for that. Why would I? People who are
members of marginalized or less mainstream groups live this way
every day . . . we don't need to go to a party to encounter
homophobia. Depending on where we are (say, anywhere outside
the 9 bay area counties), we get stared at when we go to the
store. This won't be a new experience for your guests at all.
In our case, it doesn't bother us too terribly. We try to
treat everyone with the respect and dignity with which we would
like to be treated, and for the most part, it works out fine.
Even the worst homophobes are usually nice if I am nice to
them. They don't have to approve of the way we live, it's
enough to just behave in a civilized manner. Sometimes we do
decline invitations where we think the majority of guests would
stare and whisper . . . we just don't need to spend our leisure
time that way. But that is very rare. If someone asks me what
my partner does, and I say, ''She does [blank],'' and they clam
up, what happens? I just move right along to another guest.
Life is too short to worry about what some kid's grandma thinks
of me! But if you can't get over your feelings that you are
responsible for how your guests feel -- and that can be hard --
maybe two parties are best?
Happy Queer Mama
I say invite everyone and have one party. You are trying to
manipulate a social occasion so that everything will be perfect
and everyone will get along. Yes, tell the grandparents up front
that there will be several same-sex parental units at the party,
but don't point them out. Let the grands know that they can make
an effort to get to know the guests if they choose, and that you
firmly expect them to be gracious to all your guests (no
whispering). Tell them they can do that crap on their drive home.
This is a learning experience for your parents, that sadly, you
have to be part of.
Beyond that, warn your friends about the old fashioned folks, and
then let it go - leave everyone to their own devices. In the end,
you cannot really control what anyone else does.
If I were in your shoes (and have been in a similar situation),
this is what I would do. Have one party. Invite your friends
and tell them the grandparents are coming and they are on the
conservative side. Don't tell the grandpraents anything and
treat it all as normal. This is a good chance for the
grandparents to experience a same sex couple and find out that
they are just people too. This will not be the first time your
same sex couple friends will experience this, and I'm sure it
won't be the last. They can be ambassadors, and although it will
still shock the grandparents, in the end it will be good for
them, and demistify the whole thing. Hopefully the grandparents
will remember their manners. Good luck to you and happy birthday
to your child.
I think that you are a great friend for considering all of your guests' feelings. But, as
one mommy in a two-mommy family, I wanted to let you know that it's probably
fine to have one party and trust that your gay and lesbian friends will know how to
handle this and that they have dealt with similar situations before. While it's
wonderful that you care about them, I don't think that it's your responsibility to
protect your friends. Enjoy this wonderful celebration!
Your situation sounds uncomfortable, but also unnecessary. Why
not have a weekday afternoon party for your child's playmates and
ask one of your extended family members to host your child's bday
at their house on the weekend. If that won't work, meet at
Picante for dinner. No cooking, no cleanup and you can have
birthday flan if you're not into making a second cake.
two is not as hard as you think
I had a somewhat similar situation at my daughter's 3rd
birthday party. We are a hetero couple with lots of gay
friends. My mom, who isn't exactly an anti-gay activist, but is
pretty traditionally Catholic, met several of my gay friends
without knowing they were gay. She actually metioned after the
party that she really liked 'Sam' and 'Mark' (names changed),
and that Sam should date my single friend Kathy. I said, ''Mom,
Sam is gay. Mark is his partner.'' She said, ''No, I can't
believe that. They were both so nice! They didn't seem
perverted at all!'' I just let it sink in for her that gay
people can be normal & don't necessarily go around dressed in
drag or whatever her perception has been.
Since that time she has mentioned Sam again (I think she may
have a little crush on him!) & has said things like ''your
friend you claim is gay'' but when I say ''Mom, he IS gay'' she
will again remark that she didn't know gay people could be so
nice and normal.
I think it was a great experience overall! And lest you think
Sam and Mark were offended, no. Sam gets a kick out of hearing
what my mom says and is always asking about her. (She really is
a kind and sweet person, just sheltered.)
To answer your specific question: If your relatives are of my
mom's generation, raised with more emphasis on politeness than
ours, if a child answers ''I don't have a daddy, I have two
mommies,'' they will probably get a little uncomfortable but
won't make a scene. I think it's a really great experience for
homophobic people to experience normal gay people in their
everyday lives, rather than just what they see on the TV news
coverage of Halloween in the Castro.
I hope you have a really fun party.
Absolutely do not have two separate parties! If your parents were so badly behaved
that you thought they would do something rude, I would say you should not even
invite them. But you say they are just unfamiliar/ uncomfortable around gay people,
so how are they supposed to learn if you never give them a chance? It is a kids
birthday party for pete's sake, do you really think they are going to point across the
room, and do you think your friends will have a chance to notice if they are
I think you should give your parents a heads up, so they are not too surprised in the
case you suggested (''What does your husband do?'' ''SHE is a teacher''). I am sure
your friends have dealt with such situations before and will be able to cope. If,
worse case, it freaks your parents out too much to even talk to gay people, they can
just talk to the straight couples they see and no one will notice. I hope that
everyone will be pleasantly surprised--you with your parents behavior and your
parents with the normalness of your gay friends.
Finally, homophobia is a lot like racism. Would you even be contemplating having
separate parties if your parents were racist and half your friends were of another
Half my best friends are gay
If it were me, and I could well imagine this happening in my
own life, I would definitely have two parties. My three year
old would like the extra event and doesn't need everyone in the
same room at the same time. My friends certainly don't need to
be made to feel uncomfortable (at best) or insulted (at worst)
by my parents. And why make my parents uncomfortable, asking
them to confront a situation that clearly puts them ill at
ease? I'd figure at this late date, my folks aren't changing.
Why use my daughter's party as a battle ground over these
issues? Whatever extra work and/or expense is involved would
be, to me, a smaller price to pay. Plus, selfishly, I'd have
the peace of mind of enjoying each separate event without the
dread of worrying about what would go wrong at the combined
definitely two parties for this crowd
i would warn your friends
and not worry too much about the grandparents
You have the right idea -you need to have two parties, one for family and one for
friends. We always have two parties - the family one on the actual birthday and the
friends one on the closest weekend after the birthday. The family one is just a
special dinner chosen by the birthday person and cake and presents. The friends
one is the more involved one with games, goodie bags, etc. This way we get to
celebrate the actual birthday in a very intimate way that our children will come to
expect but the party with friends etc may not happen every year. good luck.
I can understand your desire to protect your friends from rude
behavior, but throwing two parties also seems like hiding them
from your husband's parents. In my experience, LGBT folks are
quite used to handling people like this (unfortunately), and
honestly, it sounds like your husband's parents could benefit
from the exposure/familiarity. I think the key is that you make
clear through your behavior (not through ''advance warnings'') that
these are YOUR friends and you expect them to be treated
accordingly. Certainly this is what you want to model to your
young daughter, isn't it? If you don't feel comfortable
''managing'' your husband's parents this way, then perhaps you have
some of your own issues to think through as well.
I know that you wrote in your request for advise that probably telling your
parents in advance will not do much good.
I disagree. I suggest putting your foot down. They are going to see their
granddaughter and your daughter's friends will be there. The common
theme is that this is your daughter's birthday. Tell your parents that there
will be two mom or two dad families there and that you want your
parents to behave. Tell them that you will not tolerate their difficulties,
their comments or any bad behavior.
As far as your concern about the discomfort of your gay and lesbian
guests, I applaud you for your concern however you can not make
homophobia and heterosexism go away just like that. I wish that it was
that easy. Many of us who are gay or lesbian, bi, trans or queer have
had enough to deal with and more than likely your parents comments
will be just one more.
Right now, it sounds to me that you are the one who is stressing out
more than necessary.
You can not control your parents thoughts and hence, homophobia.
You can not control your friends.
You are not your parents and your parents are not you.
You welcome your daughter's friends.
So, here are some questions for you.
What values do you want your daughter to have?
What kind of person do you want to be?
What can you do to have a pleasant party?
What can you do to take care of yourself?
Here and Queer
Been there. My Southern Belle of a Mother has said many rude
and ignorant things about LGBT people over the years. Several of
our closest friends are L and T and they are always invited to
birthday parties and holiday parties, so we have dealt with this
for more than 10 years. My mother's Southern Belle kicks in
at the parties and she behaves herself. She doesn't go out of her way
to make conversation with our friends, but she is cordial when they
go out of their way to say hello to her. When she makes one of her
comments to me in private, I cut her off and remind her she is talking
about my good friends.
The only thing I would caution against is
prepping your friends about your bigoted family members. I did this,
with the best of intentions, but it was a mistake.
It resulted in my best friend always feeling anxious about coming
over when my mom is here, even though my mother has never said
anything mean to my friends. So it would have been better to just
let things flow. My advice is: assume the best, and there
is a pretty good chance that the best will happen!
My almost 2 y.o. daughter is starting to have some serious
stranger anxiety, but is particularly scared of one of her
uncles. She cries in holy terror whenever he's around (which is
not often--though I have tried to make it so) and burries her
face in my shoulder as to not look at him. She wont let me go
back into the room if he is there. He's just not a very ''warm and
fuzzy'' guy and doesn't really know how to identify with children.
His eyes bulge a little, as well, which I think contirbutes to
the situation, but of course there is nothing I can do about this.
I don't know what to do. Her 2nd birthday is coming up and I am
afraid she will cry the whole time if he is there, but of course
a cannot not invite him...
I've tried showing her pictures of the two of them when she was
younger to show her that she wasn't always afraid of him but that
doesn't seem to help....the weird thing is she talks about him
like she does anyone else when he's not around....
I am running out of time and can't think of anything else to make
him seem less scary to her....any advice would be greatly
scared of no solution!
It makes sense to invite only families or adults who have
children to a two year old's party. (except of course for
grandma or other persons to who she is close to in her daily
life) People who have not had children, or who feel
uncomfortable with young children, tend to feel overwhelmed in
parties where there are lots of kids running around. You may
have to be crafty so as to not hurt his feelings but he might be
relieved to not have to come.
hi, I think from the time a child is born he/she responds to
things they sense and know things that even we don't. The fact
that your child is afraid of this uncle I think shows that
there is something that bothers your little one about him. So
my suggestion is to be sensitive to your child and not invite
him to a party that is for her. I think your first and only
real obligation is to your child not to this relative. It's not
going to make anyone happy if the birthday girl is in tears.
Your little girl is telling you what to do so just listen to
believer in child senses
This is not to address whether or not you should invite your
uncle (it doesn't seem worth ruining the party for her) but I
did want to stick up for the man. My nephew went through a
phase at about the same age that he was utterly terrified of any
man with blonde hair. I can say with 100% confidence that he
had never been alone with a blonde man so nothing bad had ever
happened to him. It passed with repeated exposure to blonde
men. I have had friends with similar experiences with their
kids. I am not saying that children's intuition should be
ignored, just that sometimes they have fears that have
absolutely nothing to do with the person they are afraid of.
My daughters (twins) are turning 3 next week. We had planned a small
party, inviting only people they know and love well. The list is
short: four adult friends, one toddler and that toddler's parents
(seven in all). Since there are so few guests, we planned the party
on a day when everyone could come, making many calls to co-ordinate
the date. It's been set for over a week, and the girls are eagerly
anticipating the event (we make an ex on the calendar at the end of
each day so they can "watch" the day getting closer).
Today I received a call from the toddler pal's mom, saying they will
be at a music class that day and will only be able to attend the party
during the final 20 or 30 minutes. She knows she has cut the guest
list in half by bowing out. I'm sure we'll have lots of fun anyway,
but I'm disappointed by this, and even confused.
Friendship is tricky. I mean, if this were family, I'd tell them off
and know we'd still be stuck with each other. But how much can you
reasonably expect of your friends? I don't think I'm going to be able
to just shine this on, but isn't "saying something" counterproductive?
After all, if your friends don't treat you as if you matter to them,
telling them they should probably won't help. It's a bind though:
either way, the friendship seems doomed. Any advice?
Sign me: Birthday Bummer
While the friendship may or may not be doomed, I think you owe it to
yourself and your friend to tell her how her decision to skip the party
makes you feel. This does not mean telling her off; it means telling her
that it makes you feel as though your friendship doesn't matter, that makes
you sad because you thought that you had more of a friendship there, or
whatever. If I were you, I would try not to be accusational because you
have an opportunity to find out how you also might have contributed to the
strain in the friendship. If nothing else, your future friendships will be
If you truly feel that you can not condone what your friend has done
and that your friendship is doomed if you don't tell her so, then you
lose nothing by trying to talk to her about it. Perhaps she just
doesn't realize how important this is to you. If she really doesn't
care, then there isn't much you can do, but I think you should at
least give it a chance. If you give her the benefit of the doubt, and
gently explain how important this is to you, she may change her mind.
In any case, try to have fun at the party and look forward to it
anyway, because your daughters will be excited in any case and 4
guests is still plenty. It's their big day, and whether they
celebrate with 4 or 7, they'll enjoy it if you do! Ziz
A couple of years ago, a friend offered me comp. tickets to a show,
and I admit it, I was lazy, late, and not very thoughtful when it
came to the effort she put forth. But my friend turned out to be
very direct: she told me that she had gone to a lot trouble for me,
and my that thoughtlessness was a problem. She was right. And while
it hurt to hear it, I was glad to hear it. In fact, I think it drew
us closer. Certainly made me want to be more reliable in the future.
So I say tell your friend about the problem she has created with the
music class. tell her how important it is to you and your child that
she and her child come to the party for the whole time. Don't let it
be a stumbling block in the friendship. Rather, try to let it be a
way for both of you to be better friends.
I'm a bit confused that you would consider a person with whom you
can't be honest "a friend". I guess its tricky because her child
might be your kids' friend, but I would urge you to be honest with
her. Otherwise you will find things become more and more strained.
It should have been possible when she called to mention that her
child is THE honored guest, and that you could have had the party a
different time if she told you it was inconvenient for her. Now I'd
just wait till she arrives at the party and tell her the same thing.
You may find that you are better friends for clearing the air.
I've been on both sides of something like this... and ended up
disappointed with myself both times, for not doing the right thing...
We had this kind of adult party when my kid was 1 year old. I am
surprised that at the age of 3, you are still making it an adult
dominated event. (Maybe there could be a family gathering separate
from a kid party?). Cancellations happen. People do get sick or have
accidents, although I would not be very accepting of simply being
dropped for a music class, if the other person was aware of your
scheduling efforts. But your friend doesn't deserve to feel pressure
because her kid was the only other kid invited and therefore they
should definitely be there. That was your idea, not hers, and the
consequences are on you. While I would not take it out on the
friendship, (you don't own anyone's commitment just because this party
is so special to you), I would definitely invite one or two more kids
than you plan to have at future parties. It's a good rule of thumb
and has always worked for me. And I try to keep birthday parties very
smalI - as many kids as your child turns of age. If they all come
anyway, you can probably accommodate one or two extra. Just make sure
you have party favors for all.
You have every right to be upset. Perhaps the best thing to do is find
another toddler for your girls to play with at the party. I would want to
know if this friend arranged the music class before or after she accepted
the party invitation. If she did arrange after she accepted the invitation,
then I would not invite her to any future events as she doesn't seem to have
her priorities straight. The kind of party you described with all the
planning you did is not something easily forgotten.
Forget about chastising your friend. Your priority should be to ensure your
daughters have a great time. If this friend shows up at all, I would not
change your schedule. If some activity is already in progress when she
arrives, she'll just have to wait (as will her child) until the activity is
completed. It isn't fair to the other children to make them start over
I say this only because at one of my child's parties, a guest didn't show up
until five minutes before the party was to end. This guest wanted tokens for
games and cake and pizza and I could not believe how rude they were about
it. I had to explain to the child (and the parent) that we already finished
eating and everything had already been cleaned up. We were in the process of
cleaning up after opening presents when they arrived. Everyone else was
getting ready to go home. I had no intention of babysitting this child for a
couple of hours when the party was already over. My husband had to insist
that the parent not leave their child with us. Another reason I don't invite
the entire class anymore, only children whose parents I have met and know.
Children's parties should be fun and stress-free. Enjoy your daughter's
party and forget about the friend for now. There are more important things
for you to concentrate on.
You can not expect your friends to have the same standards as yours.
Every family has their agenda and family events to juggle everyday.
We do need to respect our friends's decisions on how they prioritize
their life. Your friends are doing their best to come to join the
later part of the party. Please enjoy the short time they can share
with your family.
What I have learned from doing over 10 birthday parties for my two
girls is to invite the maximum friends you want to host, prepare
enough goodie bags for each kids, no need to R.S.V.P., and a big cake.
The leftover cake will be divided for the kids can't come to the
party, we actually deliever the cake and that kid's goodie bag after
the party. Please don't let this event interfere with your kids'
friendships, the toddler's pal's mom as you called can still stay as
your kids's pal's mom, and not your best friend. Have a great party!
When my 6-year-old daughter had her birthday,
we invited everyone in her class, so that no one
would feel left out. However, it seems that not all the other parents
try to be fair like this. My daughter has only been
invited to about 60% of the other childrens'
These children are handing out invitations at school,
and talking about thier parties, even though there are children
who have not been invited. This really hurts my daughter's
feelings. I know that she is well-liked by all the children, so
it is not a question of them not liking her. I don't know what
to say to her when she comes home crying about a party she didn't get invited to.
I think you just have to explain that some people just can't
or don't want to invite a whole class to birthday parties,
and that being invited to more than half is pretty good.
About this age girls group up and almost everyone gets
excluded sometimes from some things. I think you just have
to be matter of fact about it, and help her to come to terms
with it, because we just can't protect them from this sort of
stuff from here on out (bummer!). They are going to have to
separate ''self-esteem'' from this sort of thing, and learn to
derive it from their own accomplishments instead. In fact,
if someone wants a smaller birthday party, or only invites
even one person, that is ok, and we can't expect to be
invited to everything. She really won't want to invite
everybody to everything for the rest of her life either. I
think it is important to remind kids also that popularity is
not life's main goal. I know it is painful, but that's
some parents go with the advice ''one child guest per year of age of the
birthday girl/boy''. it might help if you explain this to your daughter.
I know it can hurt a child's feelings when they are not
invited to birthday parties that others are invited to.
Some parents' feelings can be hurt, too. I feel it is
important to remember that for many reasons, not everyone
wants to or can have a large birthday party. Perhaps a way
to help her deal with it is to explain why others may not
invite the whole class to their children's parties.
Birthday parties can be very expensive, and many families
cannot afford large parties, especially if they also pay for
private school. Many families do not have the space nor the
ability to have a whole class full of kids in their home, or
to keep track of all of them at a non-home location (even if
other parents are around to help). Many families have a
large local extended family that must be invited to a
birthday party; which leaves little room left over for
friends. Some children feel more comforatble with smaller
parties cuz they may be more introverted.
At my daughter's preschool, the rule is that no one talks
about birthday parties at school, 'cuz someone may feel sad
about being left out.
Perhaps you and your daughter would feel less consternation
if you made your own parties smaller and focus on enjoying
the company of a few close friends.
I firmly believe that birthday parties do not require
reciprocal invitations (''my child should be invited to child
X's birthday party, since my child invited X to her party'')
I've seen that belief force some families, who would like to
have a small party, for reasons of finance or personal
preference, to invite many more children than they really
wanted. If a family or child would like to have a party with
6 kids instead of 16, that should be their choice!
However, since you state that the problem isn't just that
your child isn't being invited by everyone that you invited
to her party, but that most of the other kids are invited,
and she is left out, perhaps this issue is something you
could bring up with your child's school, to see if they have
a policy about birthday parties. The guidelines at my
daughters' school (Windrush) is that birthday parties
invitations should go to:
- The whole class, OR
- all the girls, OR
- all the boys, OR
- no more than half the class
In a class of 16 kids, you could then invite all 16, or all
8 boys, or all 8 girls, or 8 assorted kids, but not 12 kids
invited and 4 left out. Furthermore, birthday parties are
not considered an appropriate topic of conversation in the
classroom. My daughters' preschool had the same guidelines
and the kids had no problem adhering to them.
Meanwhile, you say that most of the kids like her, and
she's been invited to about 60% of the parties. Those are
pretty good numbers - I personally wouldn't expend too much
energy on worrying on the few parties she'd missed, unless
your child is genuinely upset.
As to what to say to your child, you could simply say
that the other families decided to have smaller parties and
couldn't invite everyone. Since you don't think she's being
excluded for a reason, that's really all you can say to her.
But meanwhile, consider a talk with the school or teacher, as
long as you are sure of your facts, and it's not just that
you might be subconsciously expecting everyone to have a 16
I personally look forward to the day when kids have
smaller birthday parties and there are fewer piles of
presents for kids who already have so much stuff! But then,
I'm the Grinch!
Our son's fifth birthday is fast approaching. Each year, we've been
invited to the birthday party of another child who we see occasionally
but who our son is not all that interested in. And we've always invited
that child to our parties. This year, howver, our son insists he
doesn't want to invite that child to his party. It seems rather like a
social obligation already, that we're kind of expected to invite each
other (and attend) the respective parties. Should we go ahead and issue
the invitation and hope our son will be polite about it? (I know I can't
count on that.) Or just not invite him and hope I don't have to
explain? Or be more straightforward with the mother, whom I like, and
explain something about it being a small party this year, etc. etc.?
Any suggestions will be gratefully received. Thanks in advance.
I come from a culture where social obligations and the good of the community
comes before individual satisfaction. I always felt that some of the
sacrifices I had to make growing up were unfair and somewhat disrespectful
of my personal needs. When I came to this country I realized that the other
end of the spectrum is also not good for anyone. This country is giving
children too much power to satisfy what they need, with no regards to what
others might think. It was refreshing to find that you are struggling with
your decision, rather than just let your son decide for himself. This is no
simple matter. There are many people involved.
First you need to think about the messages that your son would get if you do
not invite this long term friend, whom he is not so found of, but it seems
like the families like each other. I think you need to give him the message
that the way to create a community is not to cast aside the individuals you
don't get along with. He has known this other boy for many years and he has
come to every birthday party, this should count for something. Your son's
individual rights will respected if he is involved in this decision as much
as possible, but that he should be given clear guidelines for what might be
your decision and what might be his.
When children are given a choice to invite, say, only three children for
their birthday, I think they should have full control. But if it is a big
celebration, being choosy and disregarding family connections is actually
I hope you make the right choice, and I hope you can openly talk to your son
about the feelings of sadness that exclusion might incur in others.
My daughter gets invited to the birthday parties of many more
pre-school friends than we want to accommodate at hers and you have
to draw the line somewhere. It just amazes me the size and types of
parties that are given for three- and four-year olds. Whatever can
you do to top it the next year? Anyway, how did your son feel about
going to the other's party? What is your relationship with the other
mother? If your relationship is casual and your son didn't really
want to go to the other's party, perhaps it's time to severe the ties
and invite only the friends your son wants.
At some point (and age 5 is probably about the start), your child is
entitled to pick his own friends (but not relations!). So if your
son doesn't want the other child to come, the other child should not
come. There's no shame in explaniing to the other kid's mother --
she can be your friend even if your kids aren't.
My daughter gets invited to the birthday parties of many more
pre-school friends than we want to accommodate at hers and you have
to draw the line somewhere. It just amazes me the size and types of
parties that are given for three- and four-year olds. Whatever can
you do to top it the next year? Anyway, how did your son feel about
going to the other's party? What is your relationship with the other
mother? If your relationship is casual and your son didn't really
want to go to the other's party, perhaps it's time to severe the ties
and invite only the friends your son wants.
It seems reasonable for children to fall into and out of relationships
with their peers. The parents of the "uninvited" would surely understand
this aspect of social life at this (or any) age. In the past, we have
limited the number of children (10 or less) at our son's parties (also now 5)
and he has had to pick those he REALLY wants to come. This year, due to the
observation that our son was always very stressed by birthday parties
(others, as well as his own), we did not have a party. Nevetheless, his
close friends made occasions to "gift" him and help him celebrate--
over the entire week in which his birthday fell. He did not miss the party.
We had a special dinner with one friend (and her family) over, as well.
this page was last updated: Apr 7, 2015
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network