Do We Have to Invite All the Kids from a Church Small Group to 5 Year Old Party?

Updated on June 10, 2012
C.L. asks from Arcadia, CA
21 answers

We are planning my daughter's 5 year old party. It will be at an indoor gym with a capacity limit. We are in a small group at church with several families, but she is only close to a couple of the kids. Due to our space constraints we can't include all the kids from the church group, so should we invite just the two kids she's close to, or none of them? It seems awkward to invite only a couple of them, but it will also be strange not to have them there.

Note- this is NOT a money issue, it's a space issue.

Thanks for your input!

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answers from Washington DC on

Invite the two she is friends with It is her party!
At five she knows who she likes and should get to pick who comes to her party

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answers from Portland on

It's OK to just invite the two as long as you don't invite them in front of the others. It's acceptable to be close to some and not to others. It's reasonable to only invite the number that will fit with your plans.

Even schools do not expect one to invite the whole classroom as long as the invitations aren't handed out at school in front of the whole class.

Some choose to invite everyone. It's a choice not an expectation.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This comes up all the time here on Mamapedia lately: Must I invite the entire class?

Invite those whom you want to have there and whom you can accommodate with the space restrictions. It's that simple.

Kids this young -- if they even hear about the party, because their parents won't mention it IF the parents find out their kids weren't asked -- will not care for more than five minutes if they realize they weren't invited. They just don't hold that kind of thing in their head long enough. Don't fret over "Sally will be so hurt if she knows she wasn't invited."

There is no law saying you must invite the entire church class, preschool/K class, set of playground friends, whatever, to any event of any kind. You have a space limit dictated by the venue you chose. Invite the kids to whom your child is closest. If your child is the one saying, "Why can't we invite everyone?" this becomes a good teaching moment: We can't all do what we want, whenever we want, with everyone we want, and there are constraints based on the choices we make (venue, time of party, activity involved, day of the week, etc.).

Then apply the same lesson to every subsequent party and don't ever feel obligated to invite the entire K class to a party, or the entire elementary class, etc. Kids will survive this. And any parents who get into a twist about their kids not being invited to any kid party really need a reality check anyway.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Invite only the 2 she is close with, but don't pass out the invitations at church. Perhaps a good time to try an evite?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It is common for our whole small church group to invite all the families that have kids in the same class. I however only invited three of them and made sure they knew I had not invited the whole group so they were discrete about it at church. Its not like you are excluding a few, you are only inviting a few. And its not like a classroom where they see each other every day and so the news is likely to get out. I'm pretty certain their was no one who knew about our party and I'm glad I did it the way I did it.
(funny thing I just went to one today from that group and one family was on their way to another BD party and she let it slip who's it was and assumed I'd gotten an invite. To which I said no. sure 10% of me was offended I didn't make the cut, the other 90% of me realizes i wouldn't have gone anyway and was relieved there was no invite)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

you never have to invite all of any group. If the group at church is small you may run into hurt feelings if you invite 2 out of 3 kids in the group. but if your talking 6 or 8 kids and your only inviting 2 i think its fine. just don't make a big deal out of it in front of the others and don't hand out the invites at church. good luck

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm surprised the question comes up over and over again, and how many people sincerely believe that you must invite them all.
if you invited all but one, then yes, that child would be hurt and you would be a stinker. but nobody EVER means that this is what they plan to do.
church parties should of course mean everybody. but individual parties are for individuals and i'm concerned at this nouveau paradigm where an individual child's likes or dislikes, or the family's financial or venue or friendship preferences, all must be subsumed in the 'everyone is equal! everyone is liked! everyone is included in everything!' blanket. there are times when this is true, but it is by no means a rule.
obviously one must be courteous, and that means not inviting one child in front of another one who's not being invited. but it doesn't mean one must hide or pretend or conceal. it would be great if you could forestall any discussion of the party, but 5 year olds can't and shouldn't be forced to overthink adults' social minutiae.
not inviting everyone is nothing to be ashamed about. if someone else asks, the simple and true answer is 'this is a very small party, we couldn't accommodate everyone.' no apologies, no excuses.
if a child whom your child was not close to did NOT invite her to a party, would you be offended? your child won't be either. and nor will other sensible parents.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

You do not have to invite all the children. However, do not distribute invitations at church. Send them by snail or call the families. Let the parents know that the party is very small, so they will know not to go talking about it (or having their children talking about it).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I always invited the whole class or group. It is sad when someone is left out and it hurts their feelings. It is always more expensive but it is once a year and so worth not running the risk of hurting someone. Not everyone agrees with me and very few parents did what I did but it was right for me and it always worked out well. There were parties that my son did not get invited to and it was hurtful but you deal with the hurt in a positive way and move forward.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I have set all kinds of different criteria for who we invite to parties. I've tried letting the kids make the guest list, I've tried the whole class, I've done all the boys in the class. I've limited the number of guests to correspond with the age of the child, I've limited to the number to the max the venue allows. It's all so complicated. I have photos from many parties with kids I don't even recognize. This year I decided we only invite those whose homes my kids regularly go play at, or those who regularly come to our home. Otherwise, my kids close friends. Some are from school, some from church, some close friends of the family. Anyway, I think people are relieved when their kids don't get invited to parties of kids who aren't close friends.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If she only sees the kids at group activities, then I'd say you'd have to invite them all. If she has playdates outside of the group activities with these two children and not the others, then I'd only invite those two. Over the years, you'll face many issues of who to invite and not to, your kid will not be invited to parties and hear about them from other kids, etc. Mine are turning 13 and 17, and I'm glad to be done with the whole kid birthday party scene.
I hope that your daughter has a wonderful party!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

When I had parties for my kids, I only invited those children from my small group whom my children actually played with. In a small group you have children of all different ages and I don't think parents expect you to invite their 2 or 3 year old to your 5 year olds party.

Have fun and don't stress about it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Just invite the 2 kids from church she is closest to. Call the Moms first before you send the invite with a courtesy notice. Their child will be invited to your child's birthday party. You also want to let them know it is only their child and X from the church group that your DD has invited. Due to space issues at the party venue, she chose the kids she plays with the most. If the Moms know that, they will be respectful enough not to talk about your child's party with the whole group of parents, and also will have a chance for a teachable moment with their child about not talking about party invites around groups, so as not to hurt the feelings of kids who were not invited. As long as you are not excluding just 1 or 2 kids, you have no need to feel guilty about inviting only the 2. Even if word leaks out, don't fret. You are not intentionally slighting anyone. Parents should be helping kids understand they aren't owed an invite to every party. That's life, and that's OK. Many, many people choose to celebrate their birthday with smaller groups.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You don't "have" to do anything you don't want to do.

There's no rule saying you must invite everyone. I personally would mail invitations and keep that private.

I'm surprised a gym has limited space. I've never heard of or seen that before. If the gym is very small make sure you check out the safety aspect of it.

Have fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I wouldn't invite them all, for several reasons. You don't have to, there isn't enough room, they may not all get along (there may be a reason they are not close, and people always bring siblings.

With that said, I would only invite 80 percent of the max aloud or you have to put a note on the invitation about due to the limitations of the venue, invited guest only please.

A recent party my daughter went to, the entire class was there and then some. She had to use the restroom and by the time we returned to the party room, there were no more tokens, so I had to go buy some. They handed out gift bags while we were in the game room and by the time she ran back in there, they were all gone. Too many kids to manage!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Invite the ones she's close to. Have everyone do their best to keep it quiet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Invite the kids that you can accommodate. Include those couple of children with whom your daughter is close.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

one or all. It's the only fair way to treat kids.



answers from Oklahoma City on

How difficult this must be. I would invite a couple of her friends to the party. I can't imagine how awkward this is.

Our gym offers birthday parties too. For 10 kids for 2 hours it's $100. The owner does gymnastics with them and then he has tables and stuff set up for them in the break room. The kids love having their parties there. They can invite their whole class plus everyone they know if I could afford Our gym is huge.

If we have more than 10 kids we just pay by the kid. He has another staff person come in and they divide the kids.

I had our grandson's 3 yr. old party there and it was set up like the Buddy and Me program. It was the best party ever.

I am sure the kids will love this party. I hope you can find a way to let the other parents know you didn't have a choice.

When we had a decision like this we had a party in the gym at church and invited all the kids we knew, not just church members. We washed all their tires on their trikes and bikes with training wheels and let them ride their bikes in the gym, then we set up a couple of 8' tables. I baked a couple of 13"X9" cakes and bought a large bucket of plain old vanilla ice cream. The kids rode and played for about an hour while we sat around visiting. It was a nice time for the moms to just get to know each other better.

To this day the moms that came to that party are still close, not best friends but still call and get the kids together. We even started a weekly play group that lasted until the kids started school. The point is, if you have something that includes everyone you can do the other thing too and just invite a couple of kids.



answers from Cumberland on

you have to invite everyone in the group-probably not everyone will attend.


answers from Redding on

I think Jane is right.

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