It's your preschooler's birthday, and like every mom, you want to throw a party to remember. You're thinking of inviting your child's new school friends in addition to your own family and friends. But many preschools encourage parents to invite their child's entire class as a way of preventing hurt feelings and discouraging exclusive socializing. What do you do?
Faced with burgeoning guest lists, many Circle of Moms members are wondering how to make the transition from family-centric birthday celebrations to parties that revolve around their child's new world of friends. How important is to include the whole class? As Brandi S. points out, a small gathering can very quickly escalate into a big one when the class includes 18 kids: "I would invite them all, [but there's] just not enough time, space, or money for that, so [my daughter will] have to choose a couple of children she really likes to play with at school." Still, she's not sure how others will react if she only invites a selectd few. "Is this okay?" she asks other Circle of Mom members.
Reason #1: Big Crowds Aren't Fun for Your Child
There are many reasons you may want to keep a party for a child in their preschool years small, the foremost of which is that a large party is often not fun for a small child. Jane M. is among several Circle of Moms members who suggest that moms of preschoolers keep the party small because "expanding the guest list doesn't make sense." As she puts it, "At three years old, a large party (with the whole preschool class) is just overwhelming for the child. They have no earthly idea what's going on, except there are a ton of people there."
Reason #2: Too Many Parents and Siblings
Sharon C. plans to invite her son's entire preschool class — almost 20 kids — to his party this year, and to rent a bouncing tent for the bash. But she's worried about tiny party-crashers: "I am wondering how to word an invitation that invites my son's preschool classmates only, and not siblings. Quite frankly, I am not interested in entertaining small siblings of his friends, especially if they might get caught in the crossfire of 5-year-olds in a bouncer. In fact, I would not even have a problem if parents want to drop their kids off and come back for them later on."
As she points out, you may think you're only inviting classmates, but you should expect a classmate's parents and siblings to stick around as well, especially if the child doesn't know your family well. The intimate party you hoped for can easily turn into a chaotic, all-ages bash.
If Ms. Manners could weigh in, she would have lots to say about the fact that preschool parents are slackers when it comes to RSVPing for birthday parties, says seasoned mega-bash thrower Sharon G. It makes planning appropriately "a logistical nightmare," she says, explaining further that, "One or two parents will RSVP and then half to three-fourths of the invitees will show up." She's taken to chasing down parents in the school parking lot: "I get their phone numbers and call them the night before to confirm they will show up," she says.
Michele M. had a similar lack of responses when she invited all of her son's daycare peers. "I invited his entire daycare class (22 kids) to his birthday party," but a week before the party she had only one response. She adds that another parent invited 16 kids "and only two responded."
This breach of manners is enough for some Circle of Moms members to call it quits on plans to include their child's entire class. Arlene G. says. "In the future I would only invite a few chosen friends from school and your family."
Reason # 4: It's Too Expensive
Finally, the main reason not to invite the entire bunch comes down to the cost, says Brandy K. "My daughter is turning two this weekend and we have had a rough winter, so I am trying to give her the best birthday I can without spending too much money."
To keep party costs in check, she made everything from scratch and is paring down the guest list. "[I'm] hoping that by having a small party for my child, I will be having a party he will really love and remember."
Related Reading: Birthday Party 101: How Much Should You Spend?
Do you feel obligated to invite the entire preschool class?
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