Party Manners: How Many Children to Invite

See Little Miss Big Cheeks in the tulip shirt circa 1975? That’s my fifth birthday party, with all FOUR of my guests: Nina, Tommy, Beth and Jimmy. (I actually remembered two of their names!)

So why the trip back in time? Today, one of my daughters brought home a party invitation from school. School’s only been in session for two weeks. When I asked her who NAME was, she said, “NAME? Who?” That’s what I thought.

So let’s start a series about my ideas on how to throw a party with some good old fashioned values. Today’s topic: how not to invite the entire class to your child’s birthday party.

I like to err on the side of a smaller party. With fewer friends, your child is better able to interact with each guest. No guest will feel slighted or left out because the birthday girl is too busy with others. And, your party will be less expensive to plan as well as easier to manage.

I don’t believe there is a magic number like “the number of guests equals the age of the birthday girl or boy.” There will be your child’s obvious best friends, and possibly “must invites” like cousins. Since those children will automatically bump up your guest list, you’ll need to decide how many additional children you are comfortable hosting. The size of your space, the number of helpers you’ll have, and your budget may dictate the number of additional guests.

Of course, you want to avoid causing hurt feelings by leaving someone out. So here are some tricks to reduce your guest list.

  1. If you have a girl, make the party a girls-only affair. Same goes for boys. (And really, boys don’t want to attend a tea party anyway!)
  2. Invite only guests and not their brothers or sisters. If a parent asks if their other child can attend, especially if the party is not a drop-off, practice saying “Oh I’m so sorry, but we just don’t have room for any extras. I so wish I could tell you yes.”
  3. Decide to invite from only one group of friends, for instance, school but not ballet and Girl Scouts.

If you will be inviting only some children from a certain group, be sure to distribute invitations discreetly. Mail or deliver them to homes if at all possible. Or, send the invitations to a teacher and ask him or her to put the invitations in cubbies or backpacks. Don’t have your child pass out invitations. And, caution your child to not talk about their party with other children.

And there you have it: a party you can manage … not one for 22.

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