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Birthday Party Etiquette Question

My son is having his 6th year old birthday party soon. I've been letting everyone bring everyone in the past three birthday parties. I ended up with almost 100 people at our house. I'd like to change that this year. Almost all of his friends have sibling(s), some of them are very disruptive. My party is more structured this year, how do I convey this change to our old guests and new ones without offending them? Is there a "catch" phrase that hints toward this new wish of mine?

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So What Happened?™

I want to thank all the wonderful moms who have responded to my request. You are all fabulous ladies. I wish all the moms I deal with are like you ladies. I've decided to use the "no siblings please" phrase on the invite that most of you have suggested. And, you're all right, why should I care what they think since it's my house, my son's party. And, I also like the numerous suggestion of listing a schedule and call it a drop-off party. That's what I will send out on the invites. My son's birthday party is at the end of February, so updates are okay here, I will let everyone know how it turned out. Thank you again for all the super advice. It solved my problem. Thank you.

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At 6 they may be ready to have the party WITHOUT the parents and that will also cut out the siblings in SOME cases. I have had parents actually TELL ME "He can only come if his little brother comes too!" SO RUDE! Try saying SOMETHING about "ZAC has only invited a few special friends so that he can have quality time with each. We really hope DANNY can attend." or "We have a lot of games prepared for the group of 6 year olds we have invited... i hope DANNY can join us for the fun" (then you can always say it would noy be an appropriate party for younger OR older siblings) You could also say "Feel free to drop DANNY off so you can have some alone time and or do something special with his sibleings.

Its sucha a hard one! It happens to me EVERY year too!

H.
29 Palms, CA

1 mom found this helpful

In the past we have let people know it is a "drop-off" party. You should have start and end times listed on the invite, also. I'm assuming you are doing a craft or going to do an outing of some sort and you need a head count so you can plan well for HIS special day. It is hard I know but worth it in the end.

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I had this to deal with for my daughter's 6th bday in oct. I sent out the invitation addressed JUST to the child invited. And made sure they knew to rsvp. When/if I spoke to the parent, I just said "Will "sara" be at Aria's party? Because it's just the older kids this year, I am getting together the head count for a fun suprise!" That worked like magic! Or write in th RSVP line. Please rsvp by (date). Since it is just the older kids this year, I need a head count for the craft. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

At 6 they may be ready to have the party WITHOUT the parents and that will also cut out the siblings in SOME cases. I have had parents actually TELL ME "He can only come if his little brother comes too!" SO RUDE! Try saying SOMETHING about "ZAC has only invited a few special friends so that he can have quality time with each. We really hope DANNY can attend." or "We have a lot of games prepared for the group of 6 year olds we have invited... i hope DANNY can join us for the fun" (then you can always say it would noy be an appropriate party for younger OR older siblings) You could also say "Feel free to drop DANNY off so you can have some alone time and or do something special with his sibleings.

Its sucha a hard one! It happens to me EVERY year too!

H.
29 Palms, CA

1 mom found this helpful

When I've thrown 'structured' parties for my 10 year old son and 9 year old daughter, I've stated on the invitation that the invite extends to "xxxxx, and one guest". Letting x equal the child invitees name. The guest is usually an attendant parent. When the party is for drop off (like laser tag, Build a Bear, etc) I specify the times the child can be dropped off and picked up. I've only run into snafus twice, when parents called and asked if a younger sibling could attend. Once I said yes, once I said no, but neither time was trying.
Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

In the past we have let people know it is a "drop-off" party. You should have start and end times listed on the invite, also. I'm assuming you are doing a craft or going to do an outing of some sort and you need a head count so you can plan well for HIS special day. It is hard I know but worth it in the end.

1 mom found this helpful

For my daughter's sixth, I indicated that it was fine to drop-off, thinking a few parents would stick around. It's was like I'd said fire! Everyone bailed and left me with more kids than I could handle myself (luckily my husband and a girlfriend were here). Consider hiring a local teen to help with games while you get stuff (like cake and games) ready as the party moves along.

I would just write on the invites that an RSVP asap is appreciated because you need to get an accurate head count for this party.And I would specifically write "will XYZ attend ? box for yes, box for no.This will send a message without offending guests with "no siblings please", which will offend some.
Good luck

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do. Because you have already opened the door for extra guests and the rampage at your home and it's been more then 1 times, people just expect it now. Phrase? NO! But, if these are your family and close friends, then they would understand, if you came right out and said it. What do you have to lose? I know exactly what you mean, except the disruptive kids are from the inlaws, and there's nothing harder then telling them, right? Just throw caution to the wind and say what you feel, that is never a bad idea, if they don't understand, then they don't respect you or your home.

2 ways: #1 limit the number of invitations. if you usually send out 30 (the whole class and then some), let child invite only 6 and then if they bring siblings, you're still ok. #2 - hey you're mailing the invitation not calling so go ahead and be bold and put by the rsvp line "no siblings please". and you may allow drop off so that the parents can stay at home with the siblings. good luck. been through it too

this is what I did on my son's 6ht birthday which was in our home. I wrote on the bottom of the invite......
***due to the restrictions of the entertainer, we cannot include siblings. Worked like a charm. As a matter of fact the parents didn't stay either. Really great party and easy for me.........

I would talk to the parents of the children you invite, telling/asking them to please not have their children invite others, that you would like to make the party a little more low keyed. I mean unless you want to ask any of these other parents to help out with the party to help keep it under control. I cant think of any other way to make it any more structured, or less offensive or tactful than that. Without anyone's feelings getting hurt

Hi,

It's ok to put no siblings on the invite. If your friends get "huffy" about it, then they are going to be your friends all through elementary school anyway. I have 2 girls, 5 and 7 and did this for the 5 (going on 6) year old this year because I am very pregnant and wanted a smaller party at home. I even told friends of mine that I only invited the girls in her class. Don't sweat it. It will work out.

Hi. I have 5 year old twins and I keep things really simple -- backyard, matching cups, etc. We invite kids from their classes. I tell parents they have to stay, which most willingly do and help out. I would say we are just limiting the party to the birthday's kids school friends (make things more manageable, affordable, and to be able to play games with a smaller crowd.) When friends are stuck and can't keep one kid at home, I certainly works out.

I'd say just be "blunt" and tell the guests that it's only the child that's the friend of your child who's invited and welcome to come. But I'm not known for my tactfulness.

I would be blunt, also, but I am not the queen of subtle. However, look at it this way- it was kind of rude of them to bring so many people who weren't invited in the past, so you can be a little forward in telling them that only the friends are invited. And I doubt you will have any problems. But if you do, I'm sure they'll get over it:)

Most books suggest inviting one child per birthday age. I've done pretty much this for the last few years and it works out well. (I don't count family members or cousins as part of this, just friends.) Personally I would just cut your invitation list way down to only the people who you like and who you know won't bring their entire extended family. Forget trying to explain this. People tend to become offended if they know one of their children is welcome but the other isn't. I would rather not be invited at all than be told only on of my children can attend. Just cut the people with the difficult older siblings off the list. Make sure to send the invitations via the mail so the people no longer invited don't find out. If they do, just explain you were only having a small party this time due to finances. A party for 100 must cost a fortune. Good luck.

Dear C.,

Well, you could say something like a birthday party for same age friends of ______. Or, it will be only a small party this year or this year we are partying with only "five year olds". I know, none of these are very catchy, but they are honest. Just make short phone calls to your friends, I think that they will understand.

I wish my son were here, he could always think of great ways to say things. I would just say, keep your small party rule.

It will be more fun for everyone. Especially the birthday child. They like individual attention on that special day anyway. I always had to share with my sister who is 4 years younger and had a birthday 3 days after mine. It was like a non -birthday birthday for both of us.

C. N.

You shouldn't have to be afraid of offending someone by saying specifically that only the invited child is really invited. I don't understand where people get off assuming they can bring their whole family to a child's birthday, unless it is family. Just explain that he's inviting so and so to his birthday and due to whatever reason, money, space,etc, they are the only ones that should come. It is his birthday and he should get his friends, not everyone that wants to come. People should respect the invitation.

I have my children invite as many friends as they are in years until 7. At that point we invite four or five friends and continue to make it about friends and celebration. My children have built better friendships this way. At times we have let a sibling come, but that is only if the parent stays. I have never been concerned about what other people think. Those are their thoughts not mine. I want my children to have good memories and friends, not lots of presents and chaos. We have also had years when they picked a place to go, then we only invited one or two friends and made it fun and special by being small and meaningful because of the time they spend together. Breathe deep and trust your choices, then go be the blessing and make it fun!

Hi C.;

If you're inviting only your son's friend or school mates, please specify in your invitations that "Please No Other Sibling" allow since the invitations is limited to one guest/family. You will not offended others because you're very specific about the guests list and limited guest. It is proper to let the guests know that you're only inviting one sibling/family because you have to give them a good reason why the children guests are limited. It is your son's party, you have the right to control how guests you wanted to invite. Also food/drinks wise, it is important to have a proper RSVP. Also when they call for RSVP, please reminds your guest that only one sibling per family. Please kind and gentle with them when you specify the rules and regulations in your son's party. Remember it is your house and not their house to have a party. Good luck.

A.

I was faced with this dilemna and then I realized I could still pull it off with the siblings if I narrow down the list of friends to invite but next year, I won't do it again. So this is what I am saying something like the following in the invitation next year, Please bring (insert name) since space is limited and leave your other children in the care of a trusted loved one. There will be goodie bags that the children can bring home to their siblings!

The magic words to include are "drop-off" and "pick-up." That should remove any doubt as to whether siblings are invited.

Hi C.,
I think you should sned out invitations that clearly request an rsvp, and clearly exclude the parents. For example, write a little seperate card for the parents that say this will be the first year that your big boys will be allowed to have guests without parents. Put "drop-off" and "pick-up" times, instead of just from and to. And make the invitation out to the child. You should also make the invitations correspond to whatever structured activity there is, so it will be blaringly obvious that you need a headcount. I wrote on my last invites that parents were invited, but not requested. My daughter just turned 4, which is kind of te broderline between having b-days without parents. And any moms that say, aww, it was so much fun last year to bring my whole family, you can say your son wanted it this way. Good Luck! And remember, etiquette dictates in your favor, it is actually inappropriate for them to bring so many people over, and perfectly well appropriate for you to invite only your son's friends to his party. If you stll feel uncomfortable, explain how much you enjoyed it and that you are planning a seperate huge event where everyone and their mother is invited.

It has always baffled me, how many party guests make a children’s birthday party a family affair. I’d expect one parent and the child and end up with the mom and dad and a couple of siblings. I'd think to myself, they must have something better to do with their weekend than to attend yet another birthday party. In the past I've used two phrases. "Please, no siblings" and "This is a drop off Party". Regardless of how you phrase it you are bound to have a few that ignore your request, so plan for it. But I found that by 6 years old, other parents are going through the same thing and fully appreciate your request.

It is OK to put on the invite "no siblings please". It is not offensive and most people understand. I know I would!

I had the same problem. I held my 6 year olds party at a pottery painting place and put on the invitation "drop off at 2 pick up at 4" with the child to whom the invitation was being sent only. So sibs, no parents, no "family". We only invited 6 friends and it worked out great. If it is at your house, I suggest the drop off notation as well, and you might add a note stating that we will be playing some interactive games or doing whatever activity at the party, so please drop off your child on time so that he doesn't miss out on the fun!! Then be sure that you have enough adults on hand to supervise the activities. If you want the parents to come, I'm afraid you are out of luck and the siblings will be a package deal (I would not be able to attend a party with just one of my kids without paying a babysitter, which I may or may not choose to do). remember to have fun!!!

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