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What is the invitation etiquette for children’s birthday parties? Does it say somewhere that you must invite your child’s entire class to her birthday party?

No! The entire class is not invited!

My daughter, who I affectionately refer to as “Lil Ms. Sunshine” recently hit a major milestone….the BIG “5”!!

While planning for this year’s birthday party, I recalled the daunting task of planning her prior parties, especially making the guest list. For each of her prior birthday parties, I invited all of the kids who were in her daycare class. There was a group of about 8 kids who’s mom’s I befriended and they’ve attended each party she’s had since she was 2 years old. Of the families that I didn’t know which on average was about 12 families, maybe ¼ of them would attend the party.

So this go-round, the thought of inviting all twenty 23 kids in her class (plus family and friends outside of school) just wasn’t appealing to me.

Children’s birthday parties can be expensive; sometimes there is a per guest fee or the price increases when you exceed a certain attendance threshold. Either way, as my Lil Ms. Sunshine would tell you “We are on a budget!”

For a second, I was curious what Ms. Manners would say, about sending invitations to everyone in her class.

Then, I decided not to consult “Ms. Manners” on my etiquette question. What Ms. Manners would recommend simply doesn’t factor into the equation. She doesn’t parent my child or pay my bills, so I’ll be making the decision!


No! The entire class is not invited!

This year, I’m putting an end to the notion that “EVERYONE GETS AN INVITATION”!!

I will not invite her entire class.

I asked Li’l Ms. Sunshine who were her friends at school. She quickly rattled off 3 names. The names did not surprise me. She talks about these friends all the time. These are the same friends she’s asked to come over for a play date or a sleepover.

I double checked with her teacher and she gave me the same names of kids that Lil Ms. Sunshine plays with all the time!

I will only invite those 3 friends from her class to her party. And, of course, I’ll invite the friends who came to all her parties since she was 2.

Now just to be clear, when we receive an invitation to a kid’s birthday party, we go (unless we have a prior engagement) …OH, and we always RSVP, either way!

Parent’s please RSVP to party invitations!! (Talk about party invitation etiquette!!!)

I know how difficult it is for parents to open themselves (and their kids) up to the possibility of no one showing up to their party. I am not in support of that; even if I don’t know the parents Lil Ms. Sunshine and I will go to the birthday party…because it’s about the birthday boy or girl.

I try to act upon teachable moments with Lil Ms. Sunshine.

The choice to invite only 3 friends from her current school is one of those moments. I want my daughter to learn that she doesn’t need EVERYONE at her birthday party to celebrate (and validate) her. She also doesn’t need everyone to be her friend.

She only needs her true friends…friends she’s known for a long time and who she has built relationships with, in her school and outside of school.

As my 5-year-old embarks on the joys of elementary school, there are many lessons to come on friendship. I plan to use the memories of her birthday parties to remind her that the circle of friends that regularly attends her parties have play dates together, and sleepovers…they are her true friends. They have grown up with her, they know her, they love her and they treat her very well. So, when friendships in elementary school become a little shaky, she will have a circle of friends outside of school to be there for her!

Besides, we all need a squad….who’s to say you can’t have one at 5!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Do you invite the entire class to your kid’s parties? Why?

No! The entire class is not invited!


  1. I don’t think you need to invite the whole class. I know some parents will bring treats for the class to school for everyone. But when it comes to private functions outside of school that’s different. I would just do the inviting outside of school to avoid hurt feelings of kids seeing some students receiving invites and not others.

  2. I have no children, however, I plan on the same thing. Not because they share a class doesn’t mean they’re friends. My child will get to choose who they invite over. Sounds horrible, but in inviting the class I may end up inviting their bully/bullies. No thanks.

  3. I didn’t have children so I wouldn’t be faced with these dilemmas! Seriously, just invite the friends. It can be a teachable moment for the other children as well. I agree 100% with your decision!

  4. That is a great idea to ask your kid about her close friends. I agree with you, children’s birthday parties these days can be a very expensive affair.

  5. I never subscribed to that whole class stuff. However the few kids my son consisted friends I would reach out directly to the parents and invite them that way. I definitely would send invites to the school for a few kids to avoid hurting any feelings. That’s how I handled it.

  6. I didn’t know all this behind the scenes etiquette. I would have never dreamed of inviting an entire class. I haven’t thrown a children’s party yet. Few more years to go.

  7. I got your point, you are right. I guess I would prefer to bring the party to the classroom if teacher or school permits, so it’s at least, it would be less stress for me, by the way, it’s my child’s second home 😀

  8. It must be a daunting task for many parents who are always thinking you have to invite the entire class. Good on you for only inviting your child’s actual friends

  9. I dont have kids yet but I was talking to my friend about her kids bday before, she had to invite around 60 kids to her place one year. Moms are the best.

  10. Much love for the B’day girl on being 5! I know one day she’d be so proud of you for this decision when she goes through her memory book.
    And well, Happy Mother’s Day! <3

  11. I am with you. We are such a participation trophy led society and it bothers me. I actually work in a middle school and the awards ceremonies drive me crazy because some teachers don’t want kids’ feelings getting hurt. I could go on about this all day. lol

  12. You got to do what’s you think is right. I think I’m more like you though when planning a party! Luckily or unluckily my sons bday is in summer and a lot of people seem to be travelling 😎😝

  13. This is definitely a touchy subject for many. As a teacher, I can see both sides of the issue. Although I completely understand each side, I think it is important for the parent to do what they feel is best for their families. We provide a book for parents with addresses each year. We tell people to sue this to send out invitations to those they wish. Our general rule is not to bring them to school and pass it out in front of others.

  14. I agree on the fact that ultimately you should have the last word and choose your own rules when organizing your kid’s party. I understand that not following the rule “everybody is invited” may hurt some kids feelings, but on the other hand inviting someone your kid doesn’t like may hurt your own child, so I’m completely supportive of your decision!

  15. I totally get where you are coming from. My daughter will be one coming June and so I don’t have the same problem as you do but I am not going to invite all of OUR friends to my kids first bday party. Now, once she goes to school I am not sure what I am going to do, though my inclination is to invite everyone for the first time and take it from there. I am hosting her parties in the park which has no admition though

  16. I think inviting students in a child’s class can be really hard because some of the children’s feelings get hurt if they’re not invited. As a parent, I completely understand why you would choose not to invite the whole class. When my kids were in public school, the school rule was if you want to invite kids from the class, you have to invite the whole class. I think ultimately, though, it should be left up to the parents and the birthday girl/boy.

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