Who Should Be Invited to a Kid’s Birthday Party?

Posted By Eric 

With our daughter’s fifth birthday right around the corner, Gaby and I began debating the guest list for her party. I have the opinion that a child’s party should be primarily populated with other children, however, I do not favor the idea of close family and friends being outcasted. In this scenario, only friends and family with other children would be invited. So if you have no kids, you are out!

We have a few things working against us. First, we have a large extended family. Since Gaby and I are both Mexican, our families are huge and involved. And when you invite them, they come. Second, our daughter’s birthday is always during the coldest and rainiest part of winter. This makes finding an indoor space expensive and difficult to obtain. If she was born in the summertime, a party at the park would work great. Third, we bought a small home, so hosting parties at our house simply does not work. Trust me, we tried and it did not work. Hosting at a family member’s house does not work either because either my side or Gaby’s side of the family feels uncomfortable, depending on which side of the family is hosting.

Picture this, but with more Mexicans.

With those issues being acknowledged and accepted, I still feel wrong not inviting extended family without children. I thought about my parties growing up, I always had friends and family there. If I would have had a choice at age 10, I would have told my mom to only invite my friends. Now, I would regret that decision because I have uncles, aunts, and cousins that care about me. I am glad my parents did not give me the option of controlling my entire guest list.

So I say invite all the local extended family and friends. Sure you can leave off the drunken uncle you rarely see or the Tia that sells Avon. Remember, not everyone has to come. So you don’t have to expect to feed the 100 people you may have invited. Although finding a place large enough is expensive, I would rather not have the feeling of leaving someone I consider important off the list. Especially people who I know care about my daughter a lot.

Posted By Gaby

Between Eric and I, we have a total of 65 family members living locally. This doesn’t include the over 50 family members that don’t live close to us, or any friends and babies under the age of 2. Our family is big, so much so that our wedding guest list of over 200 people only had about 50 of our friends. Eric already hashed out our issues: small house, cold, rainy weather, and expensive or uncomfortable hosting scenarios. These issues are real and we’ve done, I think, a decent job to ensure we can host parties for the number of people that will be in attendance. While I’d love to invite everyone, it’s incredibly difficult.

This argument really stems from a recent conversation about how next year, I want to give Chinchilla the ability to invite about three friends to a small party where they might go to Build-a-Bear or to the Children’s Discovery Museum and Christmas in the Park, have lunch and cake, and go home. Eric says that this will be too difficult and it’ll result in hurt feelings and others feeling left out, but I’m saying that this isn’t about us, it’s about Chinchilla. If you know me and my Catholic Guilt, you’ll realize that for me to say that it’s not about anyone but the birthday girl is a big deal. I’m all for ensuring that hurt feelings are spared. Believe me, I spent about a week feeling terrible for forgetting to invite someone to our son’s Baptism. The fact that I haven’t sent out thank you cards is killing me. But the reality is that it’s really fair for everyone that birthday parties begin to be just for the kids in our daughter’s life.

How fun is this if you’re an adult, really?

First of all, our daughter will be in kindergarten next year. If she continues with the cohort that she’s currently with, she’ll have friends she’s had for two years. We’ll know the parents, there will be more trust between the families, and they’ll have a stronger bond. I can imagine what fun they’ll have if we take them to Build-a-Bear and then to pizza for her birthday. Second, we’ll always invite cousins in our immediate family, including god-siblings. This means that if we did this next year, three additional kids would be invited. Finally, we would still have a special birthday dinner for her on her actual birthday with her grandparents and, if possible, immediate aunts and uncles. To me this is a win-win, but there are definite issues that Eric brings up.

We have friends and cousins we’re closer to than others without kids. Do we invite them? If we invite them, will others get offended? Probably. I’m proposing that we just invite the kids. It is hurtful for those who want to spend the time with our Chinchilla, but how much fun will it be to chase a kid around Build-a-Bear when they aren’t your kid? I can attest that if I didn’t have a kid, I’d be out. Hell, I would gladly give up my Build-a-Bear spot for someone with a kid! I know not everyone feels that way, and I know we have readers who we love and enjoy spending time with us, so don’t take this personally. If you don’t get an invitation next year, know it’s not because you’re not special, it’s just Chinchilla’s guest list only includes kids.

The politics of this issue are too many and given the fact that I am the person who takes on about 90% of the party planning responsibilities, including sending out the invitations, I have to say, I’m tired. Chinchilla should have a scaled-back party and we (and our family) should be okay with this. That, or Eric should consider renting a hall with a maximum capacity of 100 every December 5th.

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9 Responses to “Who Should Be Invited to a Kid’s Birthday Party?”

  1. Amanda

    Do only what you can handle. If you can’t handle a large crowd then don’t do it. Times are tough. If people can’t understand that it costs a lot of money to throw a party and want to complain about not being invited to a birthday party then let them be immature about it. The birthday is about the child not the adults.

  2. Ozzy

    Growing up, my family didn’t always celebrate our birthday with a huge party. Every year my parents would do something for us. Whether it was dinner and a movie with just my parents and siblings or a party with all the family and friends. I believe you are both right but I am leaning more towards Gaby. If you have a party then, yeah, you are kind of forced to invite everyone. But you guys should also not feel bad about skipping out on a birthday party one year and doing something like Gaby is suggesting. Don’t be forced to have a party just because you feel the need to invite everyone. People will understand, if they don’t, then oh well they will get over it eventually. Just alternate.. party one year, build-a-bear the next.

  3. Shauna Autenrieth

    I feel for you guys!!!! We go through the same thought process when it comes to our kid’s parties as well! We have all the same issues you both are facing and it is very difficult. This is how I break it down (hope it helps a little) I think about the birthday girl/boy and how overwhelming it may be to have SO many people vying for their attention. I consider their age and if they will remember “said birthday.” THE COST can get out of control; is it worth all of that? I think about how many birthday parties everyone gets invited to and perhaps the guests (without kids) although they love our kids would appreciate being spared? And if they are close enough, they would know it is the child’s bday and if they want to send a gift or well wish, they will.

    So, I guess, since I am in the same boat as you I think the parties should be friends only once they are in school, have friends etc. I like the idea of immediate fam dinner on the exact birth date. Good Luck and Happy 5th Birthday N!!!!!

  4. claudia

    Oh testify! What I have found works best (I have both a 9 & 3 year old) to have family & adult friends without kids involved is have one afternoon for big, super fun that is usually more of a pot luck / bbq / family get together where the responsibilities + decor are less stressful. Then, host a smaller gathering with school friends so that your little one gets to have her friends + family and actually gets to divide her time in ways that are manageable for children.

    It’s usually advised that kids have parties with the same # of kids as their age (age 5 = 5 friends). Beyond that, they are overwhelmed and can become more introverted. So, why not divide and conquer – one with family that they know and love and one with friends so they can pay attention and enjoy their buddies in a setting with proper activities + the right amount of stimulation. It might be a bit more work, but in the end, it’s easier to manage as a mom, it’s less stressful on them the day of, and they get 2 parties (who doesn’t love that).

    Good luck!

  5. Melvin

    Most people know that I am very family oriented. I am extremely involved with my entire family, especially my nephews and niece. When the kids are up for a birthday, we plan a party that can involve both children and adults; we try to include everyone. I do agree with Amanda when she said to only do what you can handle. Some people like the smaller, more intimate gatherings, but some also like to involve the entire family and close friends.

    Most of the parties we have for the kids always have both parents and non-parents invited. Most parents will let their kids just run around and have fun. Parents can mingle, catch up on lost time, flirt, you get the picture. What I notice most at these parties is that most of the non-parents are more involved with playing with the kids. I have some of my friends (and my sister’s and brother’s friends), cousins, aunts and uncles who come to the party and actually play with the kids, from playing outside, playing tag, piggy back rides, or even Nerf gun warfare. Non-parents, including myself, provide a kinda-sorta-babysitting service for a little while, giving parents a bit of fresh air.

    Before getting our house, we weren’t able to host any parties at our apartment. We went to a local park with an indoor venue that ended up being a great hosting site. They provide the tables, chairs, and kitchen, all you do is provide the decorations, food, and entertainment. We were also in contact with a local church to use their multi-purpose hall. There are options everywhere, but like stated before, only do what you can handle.

  6. echavez

    FYI, anyone who votes for gaby is off Natalia’s party guest list.. k thanks!


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