Can We Please Change the “Invite Everyone” Rule?

If you have a school-aged child, you are probably already aware of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to birthday party invitations. Really, there’s only one — DO invite EVERY child, and DON’T bring invitations unless there’s one for everyone.

I understand the thinking behind this rule. Kids can be cruel, and there will be fewer hurt feelings if everyone goes home with a birthday invitation. However, I do feel this rule needs to be eliminated for many reasons. Please hear me out.

No one RSVPs these days.

I repeat — NO ONE RSVPs! I only asked for a quick text if your child would not be able to make it. I sent over thirty invitations, and only SIX parents sent me a text message, and half of those texts were yeses. Having to guess if 25 children are coming or not makes things problematic. How many goody bags should I prepare? How big of a cake do I need? How many pizzas should I order? It also leads me to the next issue …

Having a party at a venue often has limits.

We booked a venue that only allowed 16 children. We thought, “No problem. There’s no way all 30-something classmates will attend this party.” But then, hardly anyone RSVP’d. We had NO CLUE how many children were actually going to show up. Were we going to go over the limit? Would we be shelling out an extra $15 per child over the 16 child limit?

This also adds a strain to adding family and friends to the birthday party. Do we really need a party with 40 children? No. But, it turns into that when you invite every child in the class plus family and friends. I know the easy answer is “Well, don’t have the birthday party at that venue.” However, I am not going to tell my child he can’t have his party where he wants on the off chance that all of his classmates show up.

My child isn’t friends with everyone in the class.

When we were driving home from the birthday party, my son said “I’m glad so-and-so didn’t come to my party.” Before you jump to the conclusion that my child is being mean, here’s a quick back story. We have been dealing with a bullying issue with my son. He’s come home several times saying this particular child has hit him, said mean things to him, or needed to sit out because the teachers had to step in.

Because of the “everyone is invited” rule, I had to include this child on the invitation list. I almost didn’t. I almost broke the rules and left his name off the list, but at the end of the day, I am a rule follower. I made the decision if an issue arose at the birthday party, I would be there to run interference (and maybe have a nice chat with his parents). Is that really something I should have to even think about for my child’s birthday?

I know schools like to refer to classmates as “friends” which I get because they want the children to be friendly toward everyone. However, I believe there’s a difference between being kind to someone and being their friend. Think about your adult experiences at work. Sure, you might be friendly with everyone, but does that mean you’re going to invite everyone in your department to your house for your birthday? Of course not. Why should we expect the same for children?


  1. I agree but just don’t bring them to school. There are numerous ways in today’s day and age to reach out to individuals: Phone, email, Facebook. You don’t have to include anyone you don’t want to include but then don’t bring the invitations to school.

  2. The issue with not inviting all classmates is that you put the teacher in an awkward position. You don’t have to explain to a crying six year old why they didn’t get an invitation, the teacher does. I speak from experience. So if you don’t want to invite all classmates send out invites a different way. Evites are great and you are more likely to get RSVPs.

  3. You try being the teacher in a classroom where not every child is invited. It is hear braking. I agree, don’t bring the invitations to school. And better yet, find a lower key less pricey venue that lowers stress for these parties.

  4. I agree.
    On a different topic, can we also eliminate the treat bags?? I’m feeding and entertaining your child(ren) for two hours. That’s their treat.

  5. I agree with this guest blogger as my dear son’s party was recently. His grade has two classes and the plan was to invite his entire class but only a handful of the children in the other class. He does not know nor play with all of the children in the other class. We are new to the school and although the school publishes a directory of addresses and phone numbers of those parents who grant permission to be published, not all parents opt in to provide their contact information. Thus, if we mail invitations some kids will be excluded. Now there are hurt feelings when they discuss the party afterward and those not invited realize they were excluded.
    Anyway….I asked the school for addresses of the other class and the office mistakenly gave me addresses for my son’s class only. I then had no choice but to send him to school with invitations for everyone in the second class. I am tired of getting the gas face when we want to be selective. This also happens for Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

  6. I agree that people seem to no know what R.S.V.P. means nor do they respect deadlines. I even had parents who contacted me the day of and to add salt to the wound said siblings were tagging along, too. What? More like WTH?! The venue kept a list of names of the children who checked in for the party. There was one child whose I did not recognize but the staff could not tell me which child it was. I introduced myself to the mother and simply asked her if she responded to say they were coming. After she insisted she did R.S.V.P, she sly implied that she never received a response from me. I confirmed her child was indeed a classmate of my son’s, I apologized to her and the child and invited them to stay. I explained to her that I did not recognized her child’s name because her child is in the other class AND I did not receive her R.S.V.P. She showed me her phone with her attempt to R.S.V.P. and I pointed out to her that she misspelled my email address. I thanked her and told her again they were welcome to stay. She grabbed her child and jetted out the door with a cold hand flick to me as she left. I was laughing so hard I cried. How could she get an attitude with me when she made the mistake? People amaze me everyday! She forgot her gift. I sent a thank you card. 🙂

      • Really classy of you Madame Lisa to use profanity. I am curious to know what exactly makes you feel it is cool to refer to me as such?

        • I would have left, too, if you approached me in that way! Not sure why it would be so funny to offend a guest at a party!

    • I am guessing she did not forget her gift. I imagine she just has much more class than you and opted to leave the gift that had been purchased for your child. Why should your child be punished for your lack of manners and consideration. If you were that concerned about the headcount you could have sent a note to everyone who had not responded prior tot the party.

  7. I wish our school gave out directories with child/parent contact information. That would make giving the invites out easier. And I agree with you. I invited all my child’s class to her birthday. And only one rsvp’d. I still planned on the whole class coming!

  8. I agree with the teachers. Mail the invitations if you don’t want to invite everyone. The teacher should not have to deal with explaining to a child why they didn’t get an invite when every other girl in the class did! I understand party limits but don’t send invites to school!! My school will not let them be passed out at school unless it is to all kids or all kids of that sex. I’m thankful they support this!

  9. Trust me- I’ve been in your shoes! Especially with the rsvp thing- SO annoying!

    That being said.. when I was a kid I didn’t always get invited to parties and while it hurt my feelings at the time, I was over it pretty quickly. BUT- many kids aren’t that resilient and might not have the same family life that your child does. We live in an age where both parents typically work full time. These kids might not be able to get over it and it might stay with them for a long time (especially if no one is home to talk to them about their feelings). It becomes a major distraction in their life.. and it shouldn’t be.

    I used to think the rule was stupid until I really sat down and digested WHY it exists and WHY there are more pros than cons. It might be super inconvenient for me to send mass class invites… but if it saves a kid from battling anxiety or the feeling of isolation, I think it’s worth it. Plus- some years I just text the parents of the kids we DO want to invite and we don’t send formal invites at all.

    Oh- and say that “bully” came to the party.. it might have helped that child feel a connection to yours.. and it’s possible the bullying would stop. That kid might be one of the kids dealing with anxiety and isolation.. you never know. I don’t think that kids WANT to be bullies.. sounds like there’s some insecurity there.

    • Yes , Amy, I agree with everything you said. Think about the reasons the ‘rule’ exists in the first place. They are really good reasons to prevent exclusion and isolation. If you can’t afford to, that’s one thing, but to just stop the practice could be heartbreaking for many kids who struggle.

  10. Here’s a crazy thought…school/your child’s teacher is not your party planner. There are 100 other things your child’s teacher is busy doing throughout the day and consoling children who are upset because they didn’t get an invite shouldn’t be on their never ending list. If you don’t like the rule, the U.S. Postal Service will gladly hand deliver your child’s invites.


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