Today I want to talk to you about party planning problems, specifically that one question that causes the most stress when trying to arrange your child’s celebration. Are you ready? Here goes: How many kids do I invite to a party?

You see this little decision will of course determine your choice of venue and undoubtedly affect your budget, but the less talked about part of planning your little ones party is deciding who to leave off the guest list. It’s awful right? And you’re not alone if youve been pondering this, it is hands down the one thing that I get asked most often and can be the biggest source of pain for parents.

There’s a very simple solution to this problem and I want to share what I’ve learnt as a party planner and also what I’ve encountered as a teacher to help you avoid any unintentional upset and strained friendships.

Now in an ideal world, no one would be left off the party list and as a mum myself I can understand the temptation to invite the whole class. But let’s get real, kids parties are hard work not to mention expensive and the more guests you have the tougher it gets. So what do you do?

Why limit the number of kids you invite to the party?

My golden rule is to invite one guest per year of your child’s age plus one extra and here are some very good reasons for this.

The extra plus one guest over your child’s age will cover any potential no shows, which is very likely with toddlers and illnesses!

School age kids probably won’t get on with their entire class – would you like to socialise with all of your co-workers? Thought not. So set the number for them and let your child guide you on who to invite.

If you go over the one guest per year of age rule, I would strongly recommend not inviting more than half the school class. Discovering you have left out one or two kids is upsetting for them and you but a group of kids who didn’t get invited will probably not notice.

How to handle things when numbers start adding up

If you have family members that want to share in the celebrations and this puts a strain on your already tight numbers, my best advice is to arrange a small gathering for them on the day of your child’s birthday and keep the actual party for friends only. Although you might welcome an extra pair of hands if grandparents want to man the soft play!

Deciding whether or not to invite your best friend and her child to the party can be a tricky one, if your child gets on with hers then it’s an easy yes but if not then I would avoid having them there. The big day should be a fun one for your child and any bickering will spoil this for them.

Putting the age plus one rule into practice

Setting the number for you child’s party is simple using the age plus one rule, if your child is three, invite four guests. Sticking to that number isn’t always easy so lets recap how you can avoid getting carried away with guest numbers and keep everyone happy in the process.

  • Large parties are noisy and can be frightening for small children.
  • Under 5’s will have a parent with them.
  • An extra guest will cover any no shows due to illness.
  • Kids won’t get on with their whole class.
  • Keep school invites to under half the class.
  • Have a gathering for family on the day of the birthday.
  • Keep the guest list to friends of the birthday boy or girl not yours.

Good luck putting this into practice and remember that having a select few people at your child’s party will result in a better time had by all. Friends and family will always understand and support your choices as long as you are brave and upfront with them from the offset.

Have fun!

Claire x


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