What to Do with Invited Siblings at My Daughter's Birthday Party

Updated on April 17, 2012
R.O. asks from Elmhurst, IL
17 answers

I am planning a party for my daughter's 4th bday at our house.  Because our daughter gets overwhelmed by large groups of people, we tried to keep the party as small(ish) as possible without being exclusive.  Invited 6 family friends (invited entire family; all have kids).  

Also invited my daughter's preschool class.  Because we didn't think she could handle all 14 kids and their entire family (lots of unfamiliar faces), we decided that only the classmate and a grown up would be invited.  There are a couple of families from school that we are friendly with that we would have liked to have invited the entire family but decided not to do so to be fair.  We thought that family friends can come as a family but school friends will just come with mom or dad.  Thought I had figured out how to be inclusive while keeping the guest list manageable.  

Well, one of the moms from school (whose daughter is good friends with our daughter and is one of the families we would've loved to have invited the entire family) left me a message saying that they can all come and said "I think siblings are invited, right?". The invitation was only addressed to the classmate but I am not good at saying no.  Because we are friendly with this family, I am afraid that other school families would think I made an exception for this family and get upset that their entire family didn't get invited.  

Now I'm kind of wishing that I had invited everyone since our house can handle the crowd but know that our daughter can't.  We just want this to be a happy day for our daughter.  Help...sorry for the long post but would love some suggestions on how to handle this!

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answers from Bellingham on

There already seems to be a lot of people coming to the party. A couple more probably won't make any difference to the 'overwhelmingness' of it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you didn't clearly state that the invitation was only for the classmate and one adult, I'd assume that you might get a lot of whole families and siblings showing up. I always assume that the whole family is invited, or at the very least that I can bring my younger son along with me.

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answers from Honolulu on

Okay well that is a lot that is invited, being your daughter does not like big crowds.

Typically what I and my friends do is:
1) on the invitation state "Sally and 1 parent is invited to Erica's 4th Birthday party."
2) Then have an RSVP phone number or e-mail to respond about attendance.

3) State on the invitation that you/your home cannot accommodate large groups
4) Invite only your child's friends. No need to invite the whole class. This is common.
5) Keep the party to a certain amount per those invited. Then you keep the crowd amount down and the budget
6) You do not have to invite the WHOLE family of those invited.
7) You do need to say no. When it applies. It is your party. If not everyone will bring others and have others that tag along.
8) IF others tag along to the party, you do NOT have to provide goody bags for those uninvited. ONLY for your daughter's invited friends.

Again, your daughter does not like big crowds, so you NEED to keep this as a priority.
It is her, party.

9) You also have to state on the invitation, if this is a drop-off party or not. At this age, the parents will typically stay. The children are young.

10) When we have parties for my kids, and their friends have siblings, the Parents of those friends NEVER assume nor ask, if their other kids can come. They KNOW, the party is for my child and HIS or HER friends. And they properly get their Spouse to babysit their other kids, on the party day.

11) You NEED to tell that Mom who is assuming that siblings can come, that "No..." you cannot. Per your daughter and her not doing well with large groups and your home cannot accommodate more. Or something.

Once you make an exception and let that Mom bring her other kids to the party, then the other parents there who attend, will wonder WHY their other kids couldn't come as well.
So make it clear, and make it all uniform in your answer. No exceptions, or you allow it for everyone.
Then your daughter will have a party that is over-crowded.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If the invitation didn't say "and family" I can't imagine why the mom thinks siblings are invited. I find it presumptuous when parents assume they can bring siblings to a birthday party. This never happened with my kids but they are turning 17 and 13, they were little a long time ago. I would call and let her know the invite is for the same aged child only, and a parent if they feel a parent needs to stay. Let her know that you've invited 14 kids, and among those 14 kids, there are 17 siblings and you simply can't accommodate 17 extra kids. Apologize for any misunderstanding, and be prepared that sometimes a kid wont' be able to come because their parent is not comfy leaving them (or vice versa) and the other parent or someone else is not available to care for the siblings.

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answers from Phoenix on

Just a thought for the future: This is what we have always done with our kids (16 spec needs, 12 and 9). We have a small family so they get the "family party" which is basically eating the meal, cake, ice cream and presents at our house. Then on another weekend, they choose between 1-3 friends to do something "fun" they want to do like movie, bowling, lazer tag, bounce U, etc. That way, its reasonable financially and there isn't a ton of kids we have to worry about. On the kids "actual" bday, they have always taken donuts or cupcakes to class for their "school party". That sort of covers the "classmates" and my kids have NEVER asked to invite their entire class to their parties. I hope this helps, just don't feel obligated to invite the entire class, that is not realistic and not necessary in my opinion. Good luck.

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answers from Dallas on

First, its your daughter's party and she is four and if she is uncomfortable with lots of people, you were 100% right to limit the number of guests.

Call the family back and explain that you were only inviting the classmate and not siblings so that your daughter would not be overwhelmed at her own party. Apologize for any inconvenience and make arrangements for a play date at another time.

Its completely understandable and reasonable. I doubt the other family will be offended or upset.

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answers from Appleton on

If she is really your friend she will understand. Simply tell her that your daughter becomes upset easily in large crowds and would like to keep to her daughter and one parent, for this time.
You could also tell her that since you will be busy with hostess duties that day the two of you won't really get a chance to really visit. Tell her that it would be more fun to have the whole family over at a later date.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I've always thought that it's a burden and frankly quite rude not to include siblings at birthday parties for young children. There is plenty of time for friends "only" birthday parties when kids get older. Not all families have a spouse that can look after siblings or the means to pay a sitter. In the spirit of celebration and sharing a special event, I don't see the reason for exclusion. They grow up so fast-- enjoy having a bunch of little ones around while you can!

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answers from Washington DC on

I would just tell them what you said here, that no, unfortunately siblings are not invited and while you would love to see them all, it should be at another time. All the sibs would be overwhelming for your child and your home. You hope to see the invited child and one parent at the event.

You really don't need to justify the friendship if you've already invited the whole clan. You might give the friend a head's up that they are the exception, so please don't make a big deal to other guests.

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answers from Houston on

I would respond with, "No, only classmate plus one adult." If it makes you feel better, send a text or leave voicemail. If you talk to her and she wants to know why, just say that you are keeping it simple, since the party isn't just family friends.

On the other side, if you really want to make an exception for this group of friends, that is your right. So what if another classmate (parent) gets wind of it and thinks it's not fair? It's your daughter's party, and you get to invite HER people. If you are friendlier with some families than with others, then it would stand to reason that some would be more welcome than others. Anybody who has a problem with that needs to just keep on moving.


answers from San Francisco on

I think since everyone is already invited it's pretty much too late to do anything.
I guess in the future you should try to remember "smallish" doesn't mean the whole class.
Remember the old rule of thumb, one child per each year of age? So a four year old would invite four friends.
I hope she does okay, and if she starts to melt down please let her stay in her room. No sense in making her even more unhappy if that's what it comes down to :(



answers from San Francisco on

Can you unringh the BELL? Sounds like you have already invited more people then your child will be comfortable with? If this is NOT the case and/or you have time to rearrange the event. Rethink the number of people (especially the children and keep it to a small number, say four to six only)



answers from Salinas on

I have always (I should never say always) respected the invitation and if it said 'no siblings' or only addressed to one child then I did not bring my other child. As a host you should anticipate someone who forgot or broke the rules. Most will think this guest didn't pay attention to your rules and realize you are a flexible hostess. I would feel awkward telling her No, unless it was a gymnastics party for 14 kids only.

I have not had a party where I specifically excluded someone (a parent and extra sibling), but i have received invitation like this. I have written the name of the child invited and had it during the day when the pre-school was out but regular school was in session. That way the moms with older kids could go to the party from 12-2 then pick up older children from school. This was less stress than having a 15 families of 5 show up.

Sometimes I leave my daughter at home w/dad if the party is for my son's school friend even when the invitation states siblings welcome. She is now 2 and it would be a lot of work going roller skating (for example) with both kids. My husband hates kid parties and i only make him go to family ones.



answers from Huntsville on

Honestly I think inviting the whole class was too much. Even if only the classmate & 1 parent attended. I have never invited an entire class to my daughter's parties (she's 6 now). She usually picks 2 of her best friends from class and we invite only them, plus our family & family friends.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other poster that it is presumptuous to assume you can bring siblings to a birthday party, especially if the invitation was addressed to her friend alone. Your daughter is friends with her classmate, and not (usually) with her classmate's siblings. You are right to limit it to just your daughter's friends; if this is a burden to another family to have only one child attend, then they don't have to attend! It's not your fault that (or your responsibility) that these other parents have other children to look after!

We've found that as our children got older, an easy way to solve this problem is to have a drop-off party. Or, as another poster said, to do a family party, then something special with friends on the weekend. I'm sure that people will understand, especially in this economy, that sometimes not everyone wants to (or can afford) to have a huge party.

The bottom line is that it is your daughter's birthday, and as long as you aren't excluding particular classmates, you have the right to invite whom you want. It's her special day (and it's important that she not be overwhelmed).

Good luck and Happy Birthday to your daughter!



answers from Kansas City on

This is tricky. I do agree however that you seem to have quite a big crowd coming so if this particular family is a good friend go ahead and include the siblings. If others call you and ask, however, I think you probably would need to go ahead and include them though. I'm guessing no one is going to really care unless you specifically tell mulitiple people multiple things. So, make sure you don't do that.

I think maybe just prep your daughter to handle the fact that maybe a few more kids are/might be coming. I'm guessing she'll probably handle it if she's okay with 12 friends of the family PLUS her entire class...I have to admit that guest list doesn't sound like it's for someone who is easily overhwelmed. Plus, I'm sure not everyone in her class will probably make it so even if you include a few siblings it may work out to be the same amount of people in the end.

However, in the end if you just don't want to open the door to more questions simply tell your friend you are trying to reign it in and only wanted the classmate and a parent, I'm sure she'll understand, especially since the invitation was only addressed to the one child.


answers from Lansing on

I personally feel if your daughter can't handle large crowds you should have just left out the school friends and stuck with immediate friends and family.

But....that being said, I don't think there is anyway to invite school friends without someone asking if they can bring siblings....so I think you just have to allow them and anyone else that asks and leave it at that.

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