Children and Birthday Parties

Updated on October 21, 2013
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
16 answers

My daughter will be five next March and I'd like to have a party outside of my home. I want it to be extra special because a few weeks after her fifth birthday, she will be a big sister! Alyssa attends a Pre-K/daycare school. This year she has a larger number of kids in her class. I was thinking of just inviting the girls as was suggested by a friend. However, the number of girls in her class is about six. Then I have a list of possibly ten other kids to invite not including Alyssa herself.

Basically, I want to be fair and if I decide to invite one daycare female classmate then I will invite them all. The list of ten other children (except for my niece) are a combination of children she mainly plays with once in awhile. They are children from my friends who were my previous coworkers or friends she hangs out with mainly in the summer when we spend time at a lake.

My dilemma is when I feel the need to invite the child's sibling even if Alyssa doesn't really play with the sibling. Growing up with a sister seven years' younger, I don't remember my sister attending a party I was invited to. But now it seems like I need to do that.

I want to invite a daycare friend that isn't in Alyssa's class but feel obligated to invite her sister. The sister is eight years old going on nine. So at what point do you draw the line on siblings being included in birthday parties?

I really want to be accommodating but birthday parties can become costly when it is per child. My house is too small to have a party with twelve kids and Alyssa's birthday is in March so it can be too cold to have a party in my yard. Thank you for any thoughts.

P.S. The only party I had so far at an outside venue was at Chuck E Cheese when Alyssa was three. The party cost at least $500 by the way which seems like the going rate to invite twelve kids. I invited a coworker's daughter to her party and they were roughly the same age. Well, my coworker brought all three children to the party. The two older girls were much older, maybe eight and ten! How could I say no?

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for your thoughts. I am still new at the birthday party planning. Thankfully, I have plenty of time to plan Alyssa's party as her birthday is in March. I'm just the type of person who doesn't want to leave anyone out. Also, if I decided not to invite at least seven kids whom Alyssa only plays with occasionally but yet when asked what I might do for Alyssa's birthday, I feel like I can't lie about not having a party. It's a little complicated. Maybe when Alyssa starts Kindergarten next year, I will only invite kids in her class and let all this go!

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answers from Seattle on

I do not at all feel obligated to invite siblings if I don't have the budget and/or space. I also don't feel obligated to invite anyone that my child only plays with infrequently.

We have, in the past, noted on the invitation that, due to space constrictions, siblings are welcome to attend, but the parent is responsible for that child, financially.

A venue to consider: take them all bowling. Get a couple of lanes, and the bumpers put up. That might also help keep the number of attendees down. You can only have 6 people on a lane.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I never include siblings unless its family or my really close friends. When my kids get invited to parties I never bring all three just the one who is invited. It's very rude especially at a place where you pay per child.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

First, my rule was one child for each year. So that would be five girls plus birthday girl. I am not sure when siblings started attending parties. Was never an issue back when my kids were growing up. Guest got dropped off. That was it. Picked up at a specific time. That started at age 3 or 4. She has to pick who she wants. Inviting all the kids you were talking about is crazy.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Invite the classmate. Say that due to the venue, you will need a head count by x date and that you are regretfully not able to include siblings. Specify if you need/want parents to attend and if they should RSVP, too.

My DD was new to a preschool and one of the parents did the "invite all the girls" party. The girls ended up being fast friends later in the year, so if your child doesn't have anything against a child in her class and there are only 6, then invite them all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

If the venue charges per child, most parents understand and wouldn't impose. You can look into hosting a party at a church gym and invite as many as you want. We did this when my girls were turning 8 and 4 (their bdays are only 2 weeks apart). We still refer to it as the greatest birthday party ever! Since we were church members, we were not charged for using the gym, we rented inflatables, hired several young teenage girls to help with crafts and dj the party. Everyone had a blast! It probably cost $500 with favors, cake, rentals and paying the teenagers, but we had full families at the party and I treasure the pictures to this day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


If my co-worker had shown up with ALL of her kids? You betcha - I would have told her that I would ONLY give tokens to those invited guests. Is it bold? Yes. But really?! It was rude and obnoxious of her to bring all of her kids.

For five years old - more than 7 kids TOTAL will be overwhelming and end up with someone having a meltdown.

Invite ONLY those who you want to invite and CLEARLY state on the invitation that the invite is for Jane only. Most people have the mental capacity to understand that a party - even at Chuck E. Cheese is NOT for all of their kids.

For this party? I STRONGLY suggest you keep it to less than 10 kids. Really. Then find a place that works for you - and is within your budget. There are Jump Houses that many kids love to go to - I don't know your daughter though.

If your daughter is a girly-girl? Find a salon or even the cosmetology school and see if you can do a manicure/pedicure for them...and keep that party to 5....

Hope that helps!

Good luck!! Happy Birthday to your daughter!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We never invited siblings unless they were cousins or close family friends, and none of my kids were ever invited to a party just because one of their siblings was invited.
Your coworker was rude or clueless, unless she paid for her older kids' pizza and games (?) I would NEVER bring extra kids to a party without at least asking first!

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answers from Kansas City on

You don't need to invite the siblings unless they are members of your own family. Like, I couldn't invite my daughter's female cousin without inviting the cousin's brother unless it was a very girly party.

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answers from Grand Forks on

We only invite the friends the kids play with outside of school and organized activities. These are their close friends. The kids who come to our house to play or invite our kids over to their houses. There is no way we could invite all the kids from school, church, the neighbourhood, sports, choir, relatives, family friends etc. We never invite siblings or parents.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

We had 16 last week to our 9 year olds party. It was only $125. I'm glad I live in Oklahoma....

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answers from Dover on

I would be more inclined to invite her whole class rather than kids she rarely sees (like only in the summer) unless they are someone she really wants to attend. I would also not invite siblings unless they are related to you or such a close friend that they would have been invited on their own merits (not just because of who their sibling is). That said, you write the invitation to the child you want to invite. If it is a "per person cost", you just include wording that "Siblings or additional kids will be at parents cost and discretion".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would not invite siblings, but if the mom asks say yes.

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answers from Portland on

You don't need to include siblings. When you address the invitation or evite, make sure you send it to the attention of the friend's name, not a general invitation to the family. I only allow both of my kids to attend a party if both of their names are on the invitation. Occasionally I'll have extra goody bags for siblings, that I'll pass out when the family picks their child up.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter just had a CEC party with 19 guests and it cost $400. I took the second package, purchased the CEC cups separate and order two platters for the adults. I also purchased $60 worth of additional tokens, which was probably about $20 too much.

My daughters guest list consisted of her BFF and her sister. I already know the sister is coming, so she was part of the head count. The same goes for anyone else with a sibling around the same age. It is a matter that you invite them both or don't invite them at all. Some I don't mind and some I do, however, I already know they will show up and I wanted no more than 20 kids not 30.

Last year we had an invite the class party and we did it at the park. There is no way I am hosting a party for 27 kids plus siblings.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My advice is to keep it small! You're already finding out the problems with expenses even for small groups. The larger it gets, the more unmanageable it is anyway, and the kids get overstimulated. Think also about what a "special party" means. For me, it means very good friends and a fun activity, with a few gifts. Once you invite the whole class, it's not a special invitation for any of the guests (they all feel you were obligated to invite them), and now it's 20 or 25 gifts, and your child learns that a birthday is a big gift fest rather than a celebration of her special day with only special people. Then you get into the whole thing of parents feeling that they don't have to RSVP because, gee, there are 25 kids invited and so what's the big deal about one more person. Mamapedia is just full of understandable rants from party-giving moms who planned for 12 and got 30, or planned for 30 and got 5. It's nothing but frustrating.

Siblings are another problem. If the kids are roughly the same age and play together, then invite them. The older the kids get, the more likely the parent is to drop off the invited child and then come back. But if you hold a party at a venue like a Chuck E. Cheese, then parents feel they can stay. If you have a huge gathering, they often feel like they SHOULD stay to help supervise. Then you are faced with feeding and entertaining all these extra people.

So our policy was always to invite only those kids my son would really enjoy - not the children of co-workers, not those with whom he played occasionally, and not siblings. We also followed the "age rule" - he got to invite the number of kids for the age he was turning. When he was 5, he invited 5. When he was 7, he invited 7. By the time he was 11, he wanted to do expensive things like lunch and a movie, so he only got to invite the number of kids who could fit in our car! It was great - he got to really talk to the few kids he invited, he got a few gifts (and had a manageable number of thank you notes), and he got to open the gifts in front of those giving them. So everyone got to see the pleasure in the gifts, receive heartfelt thank yous to their face, and move on.

If you have 20 kids, they don't want to sit there for the gift-opening because it takes forever, and then the gift becomes more like the price of admission to the party. It's just a terrible idea. So be careful before you start down that road when she goes to kindergarten - it's hard to change your mind once your child gets used to huge parties. And all you will do is lament the costs and hassles and all the extra people who show up!

Life is about making choices. You feel guilty leaving people out but really, no one goes to everything. We also turned down invitations to parties if he didn't really know the kid. We didn't want to spend every other weekend working around a birthday party with 25 kids in the class all going to each other's things, adding in parties for neighbors and "occasional" friends and the children of our own friends. My son had different friends than we did and that's okay.

And when people ask you what you are doing for her birthday, it may be sincere interest from her good friends, but it can also be a bit of trolling for info about venues and sucking you into the competition of "whose parents are giving the best parties?" - you don't have to play that game.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I didn't invite siblings of my daughter's friends. And I didn't insist that my daughter be allowed to tag along to everything that her stepsister was invited to.
Parents should know better than to bring siblings especially to places like Chuck E Cheese that are prepaid by the head.

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