Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Guest List...

Ok, so you've decided upon a theme and where to have your birthday party now what about the guest list?  When it comes to kids parties there are all sorts of ideas (and dilemmas) about who to invite, mostly to keep the party manageable and under control.  Let's face it once the kids are old enough to be in school, inviting the entire class may be just a bit much for some.  Here are some ideas that we've gathered on this matter:

1.  A family party-you can probably get away with just having a simple family party with close relatives for the first few years; however if you are a family that doesn't have relatives nearby that obviously is not a choice for you so of course, your close friends and their children will be at the top of the list.

2.  Is there a special place that your child would like to go?  What about offering a choice of taking one friend or even just a couple of them some place special for entertainment and cake, foregoing the "big party."  We offered this choice to our child last year, "you can take one friend for an afternoon to go swimming or you can have a party with a small group of friends at home;" he opted for the small group party.  And, if you are hosting the party at a venue outside your home, the facility may very well take care of that limit for you.

3. Limit the number of guests to your child's age.  Turning 6?  Invite 6 friends and you have a manageable group.  Using this tactic may very well allow your child to enjoy the company of a few friends with interaction with each of them versus being overwhelmed with a much larger group and getting lost "in the moment" especially when they are younger.  We've implemented this idea ourselves and it wasn't necessarily easy asking our child to choose just a set number of friends to invite (especially with a class of 20 to choose from), however that was our rule and they know that next year they can invite another friend adding to the list.  This idea worked well for us, it was a nice manageable group, everyone was able to play together and enjoy the activities of the day and it was very memorable for all, they're still talking about it.

4.  Sometimes you may have the dilemma of having multiple parties, one for family, one for just friends/classmates.  What do you do then?  The rule around here is once you get to school (grade school), the kids can have a party with friends (up until then, we celebrated with a family party with close relatives); that being said, we still wanted to have a little party with relatives too, so we ended up throwing two parties on two separate days, a bit overwhelming and crazy for parents I know, but birthdays only come once a year and of course you want to give your child a fantastic celebration (or two in this case).  Again, limiting the number of invites for the friend party helped make it manageable.

While we're talking about this issue, we've been to multiple parties with a mix of friends and family all combined together and it can be chaotic, often leaving family members feeling like they don't have a chance to interact with the birthday boy or girl as they are having fun with their friends.  On the other hand, grandparents and extended family may enjoy watching the child share the special day with their friends, every family is different.

5.  There's always the issue of not wanting to leave any friend out (naturally) or having your child pick and choose amongst their friends so why not just invite everyone!  No one will feel left out, your child won't have to answer to their friends as to why they weren't invited, etc.  No hard feelings, and this sounds appealing for those reasons, and at the same time a little overwhelming for some (like me).

Mind you, we did a little role playing at home with our child in the event that someone asked, "Why didn't I get to come to your party?"  This is never an easy subject to tackle with young kids, however it is a reality and every family has different "rules" and ways of doing things.  So we coached them to try to not talk about the party at school so that other friends feelings wouldn't be hurt (using an example of how they would feel if they weren't invited and that it probably will happen at some point), we sent invites directly to the home to avoid having the issue surface during school hours and to respond with something along the lines of, "My Mom & Dad said I could only invite 7 people, maybe you can come next time."  In the end, it wasn't even an issue.

Now on to those invitations.  Having a two hour party time seems to be a good rule of thumb for kids with a definite end time.  Good luck, I hope we've offered you some good ideas to tackle that guest list.

Stay tuned for more ideas for your party planning next week!

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