Birthday Party Invitation Dilemma

Updated on March 05, 2013
B.C. asks from Montclair, NJ
23 answers

My kindergarten son will be 6 soon and we're planning his party. We have always done our own, either at a playground or at home. His school has a great playground so we are going to pray for good weather and have it there this year. I have a number of friends with children he plays nicely with, so I will invite all of them. His friends at school seem to vary and each time I ask him whom he wants to invite he has a different answer. He has some social/behavioral issues for which he gets special services so he doesn't make or play with friends in the typical way. I'm a very social person and don't mind inviting the whole class since it will be at the playground, but I can't accommodate everyone in my house in case of rain (and can't afford to pay for a place), and I also feel a little weird about inviting everyone since many of the children in the class have already had their birthdays and my son has been invited only to two of them since I know the moms. There are a few boys in his class whom he talks about all the time, but the two he considers his "best" friends are the ones with whom he constantly gets into trouble. I do let them play together sometimes, either at play dates or a school event, and I have to watch them like a hawk. I don't consider them to be good playmates for him but on the other hand I know that I can't dictate to him who his friends should be. I'm sort of stuck on whom to invite -- any ideas? The rule of one child per year of age definitely won't work for us this year. Thanks in advance!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Since you say you don't mind inviting the whole class, then do so. We shouldn't offer an invitation based on what they have done.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We've invited the whole class the last few years and at the most, 7 have showed up(24 in a class). I am too soft hearted and cant leave anyone out.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Tampa on

Personally, I am pretty jaded on whole-class parties based on what happened at the one with my children this year. I invited the whole classes for both children (they have the same birthday). I barely had any RSVPs. I had rented a party place and bought food at great expense with a pretty low turn out.

I would really just invite the kids that your sons knows and plays with outside of school.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We've been invited to "whole class" parties for children my son never mentions or plays with and it always confuses me. It's nice to be included, but we don't know the child, know what he or she likes, and I know once my son is there, he will probably not really even play with or interact much with the child. Those large parties are overwhelming to run and overwhelming to attend. Personally, I would give my child a number and have him narrow down who he really wants there. Yes, there will be the best friend du jour, who will change tomorrow, but he's old enough to understand that once the invitations are made, there's no changing the list. And then have a couple extra goodie bags/cupcakes/whatever for last minute adds. Not everyone will come from your list, so you will have some flexibility if he forgets a good friend or makes a new one in the meantime, but I would not invite more than you can accommodate in your home, just in case.

By the way, please don't take the invitations to school to deliver if it's not the whole class. Kids' feelings get hurt easily on this issue, even if they aren't close to the birthday child, and I know that I have not received invitations that are delivered that way, meaning I end up being one of the ones who didn't rsvp and didn't show up because my 5 year old was expected to deliver the invitation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you invite one child from his class you need to invite them all. A friend of mine has a daughter that had a birthday in the fall. Her dad only let her invite 8 kids. If one said no she could invite someone else.

The day before her party one of the little boys came up to her and told her he hoped he got an invitation to her party because she was really nice and he liked playing with her. She didn't get to invite him, he went home and told his mom how sad he was. It hurt him that he wasn't one of the 8 popular kids in his class that got to go.

So please, don't make kids feel like they don't matter.

Either invite the whole class with a cancel for bad weather note at the bottom or only invite family and those most important to him that he doesn't go to school with

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

If it rains you can always reschedule for a different day, it's not that uncommon.

I would however, reconsider having it at the school. I'm not too sure that would be allowed under the liability of the school and I'm sure if you brought it up to them they would not allow it. If someone at the party gets hurt there could be a whole legal issue with the school. Better to plan it for a park in my opinion.

In K I would probably invite the whole class as opposed to just the boys. It's a park so it's general appeal would be to both genders. However, I don't see anything wrong with just inviting a few friends either.

ETA: I don't think you were planning on it during school hours, but even if you plan it on a weekend or after school is out, it doesn't matter, the school could still be held accountable under the right circumstances.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We only invite friends. These are the kids my boys play with not only at school, but outside of school as well. If there is a child one of my boys plays with at school and talks about often I make sure they have an opportunity to play together outside of school before there is a party. I prefer supervising a group of kids I know personally, and the kids seem to have more fun in a smaller group.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Since its on a playground outside, invite everyone unless there is a child whom your son says he dislikes for a real reason. So what if they didn't invite your son in the past? Maybe they didnt have a party or maybe it was small. It is a good way for your son to make more friends and get invited in the future. Since you have to watch the kids so closely, encourage the moms to stay.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Invite all the kids, and ask parents to stay to help. Put that in the invite: please plan on staying with your child. Serve coffee and other adult-friendly beverages along with the juice/punch, etc. Keep it short-- 1.5 hours max. Not everyone will be able to come or want to come. When my son gets an invite, I always think "does he talk about this kid, or play with them?" If the answer is no, we politely decline.

If there is rain, make a rain date in advance so that you aren't stuck at your house. Make sure to have that on the invitation, and make sure you have an email/text list of people to notify at least an hour before the party.

I'm learning that as much as I would like to pick and choose who my son plays with, that no friendship is perfect. He'll have his whole young life to learn how to pick friends that don't get him into trouble, and I just try to let him learn from his mistakes. Sure, the other kid might have led him into temptation, but he knew it was wrong and has to take responsibility for his own actions. They're still learning this at 5 and 6 and even later. (My son is almost 6 too.) I'd rather he discover it on his own instead of hearing "mom won't let me invite so and so".... as long as that other kid isn't constantly physically aggressive, I let him figure out his friendships on his own.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Personally I would invite all if the boys from his class.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Invite the whole class, only a few of those kids will actually show up, so as long as you can accommodate 5-6 extra kids in your house things should be fine. It is extremely rare for all of the kids, or even most of the kids, to show up.

As for his 'best' friends, remember they all get into trouble together. No one child is at fault.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

"The rule of one child per year of age definitely won't work for us this year."

Hm. That's a new one for me. Never heard of such a rule. Nor would I adhere to it.

He's six. Let him choose who to invite.

Give him the highest number of invitations you're willing to invite (and can safely have in your home due to incliment weather) and tell him to take them to school. He can write each child's name on it before he gives them the invitation. Once he's out of invitations, that's it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd stick with the children of your friends with whom he plays nicely. Especially for an almost-6yo with some social/behavioral issues, I wouldn't invite the whole class. Why make it an overwhelming day for him? or for you (especially if you wind up needing to have it at your house)? You say you're a social person -- and I would think that makes hosting a party easier -- but it seems he may not be. So, why set up something more than he can handle?

Although you won't be able to do this for much longer, at this age if there are kids who you feel aren't good playmates for him, don't encourage the friendship by inviting them (note: not encouraging this friendship is very different from actively discouraging it or denying him to play with them if he asks to).

Keep it simple for your son's sake. He'll have more fun if it's a situation he can handle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Honestly I'd invite the whole class. The whole class will not show up anyway. This way your not leaving anyone out. Your son might meet a shy kid who he had over looked before. Also you'll know for next year who to invite or not to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Keep it smaller - invite the kids he likes and relates to, but no those he "likes" but who get into trouble! You can't un-invite if the weather is bad, obviously, and it makes no sense to schedule a huge party at a place you can't afford. No one really wants to go to a party with 20 kids but people just don't know how to say "no". Life is about choices - not everyone makes the team or wants to, not everyone goes to every party. Your son hasn't been invited to several parties because he's not friendly with those kids and the parents know it. Think of your own parties - do you invite every adult you know just because they're in the same church or the same neighborhood? Of course not! You make choices! Teach your child to be strong in his choices as well.

We always followed the "year rule" - age 6, you invite 6 friends. Age 8, you invite 8. That's for home parties or playground parties. You want to go to lunch and a movie? Now we're talking about 4 kids who fit in the car. Period. Nobody needs to break the bank on a birthday.

Not to mention how hard it is to buy presents for 25 kids and spent 25 out of 52 weeks going to parties! Scale back and be confident of it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

He is going to be six. You also have to think about the fact they are so young and who is going to watch all of them? Now that I have much older young men, I recommend you do the absolute easiest that you can. If just inviting the same sex, then so be it. But sadly, after spending money on birthday parties, clowns, trips to whoknows where, the ones they remember the most were a couple of tacos and playing video games. With only a couple. And even if you don' t like the trouble making friends, if they were denied in some way it actually haunts you later down the road. So possibly throw them in some way. Remember, they aren't getting into a car and driving to meet over at a restaurant, they will in all likelihood be brought by parents who may also want to stay since it is sounding like a large activity.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think the 'one child per year of age' rule is far more manageable than the 'every kid in the dang class' rule.
however, if you're having the party at school, during school hours (which surprises me very much) i don't see how you can NOT invite them all. and if it's not during school hours, how on earth are they allowing that sort of liability?
kids sometimes do get their feelings hurt if they're 'left out', but if only 8 kids from a class of 24 are invited, that's really NOT exclusion or meanness or favoritism. it's a kid who has close friends, as kids are supposed to.
part of growing up is learning how to handle the occasional hurt feeling.
if you're not thrilled about his 'best friends' then by all means just invite the ones you feel he gets on with best. he's still young enough that this isn't a huge deal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Here where we live the school district has a policy, if you hand out invitations at school you must invite the whole class, period.

In all honesty they never, ever all come. Even to our Harry Potter extravaganza complete with Honeyduke's Sweet Shop. Probably the ones you would invite only would anyway, and again, not all of them. Let parents know they are welcome to stay and put them to work helping you. Oh, and if it rains that will cut down on attendees, so you should be fine even if you have to hold it at home in case of rain.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I would invite all the kids in his class. Why not? I would either say nothing (do not present your house as the back up if rain plan) or pick a rain date (you could pick a Saturday and make Sunday the rain date). You could always have just a few friends over to your house if the party needs to be cancelled.

I would NOT invite just the boys. There is no reason 6 year olds should not play with both girls and boys. It starts sending the message that girls are too different to play with. Not we are all people with individual differences.


answers from Chicago on

I agree with One and Done -- it seems to work well to invite all the kids of the same gender to the party. The last 2 kindergarten birthday parties my son went to were both for all the boys in the class to attend (8 of them).

Otherwise, if you want to invite the whole class to the park party, do so, but don't put a "in case of rain" plan on their invitations. If it rains, the whole class park party is canceled. For a fall back plan you could just have your friends' and their kids come to your home, although you will have to explain it to your son. It shouldn't be too difficult to explain that it wasn't the ideal, but your home only has enough space for a few extra people.



answers from Phoenix on

Can you just do it at your house and invite the kids/moms you know and that he knows and plays with well? It sounds like that would work out best.

Or, do it at the playground and invite everyone, or let him pick who to invite. Normally, we are game for a classmate's party if we have nothing else going on that day. I like getting to see and meet the kids my child spends all day with and possibly meeting their parents.



answers from Detroit on

For pre-school and kindergarten, we invited the entire class. This year, for first grade, we will limit the number of students depending upon the type of event we plan. We simply cannot invite all the Girl Scouts, dance class members, this year's class and last year's class. At some point the child needs to make some choices, but K is not the year to do it. Invite them all.



answers from New York on

You're son was only invited to 2, so do what you think is best. Just invite his best friends, then tell the others that you wanted to keep the party small. If you invite the a select group that includes more than his friends, then you might have to explain to one of the kids that weren't invited. Also, the more kids you invite the more risk of having an unhappy b'day due to arguements/fights. I'd just keep it small.

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