You are here: Home » Planning » Invitations

Party Invitations

Everything you need to know about party invitations

What to Include on the Invitation:

A party invitation should tell what type of party is being given, the date, time and location. Most of us also give an ending time for the party so parents know when to pick up their children. You also need to put your name and contact info such as a phone number or email address, or both. This contact info is usually on the line for RSVP’s.

The first item on the invitation should identify the event, such as “Kelly’s 5th Birthday Party” or “You’re Invited to a Bowling Party”. The next line should state the date of the party including the month, day and year. Tell guests when the party begins on the next line, as well as when it ends. This can be written as “Time: 2pm to 4pm”.

Include the street address of the party location, even if it’s your own home. And if the party is being held at a mini-golf course, karate studio or some other business, give the street address as well as the phone number. Some parents may need to call the business for directions.

The letters “RSVP” are the abbreviation for the French words “Respondez S’il Vous Plait”, which mean “respond, if you please”. Here in the U.S. these letters commonly mean “please respond and let me know if you are coming”. Ask your guests to respond by a specific date, so you will have an idea of how many people are coming. They won’t all call, of course, so you will likely have to get on the phone about a week before the party to get an answer from those parents. And you really do need a pretty accurate head count to be sure you have enough food, prizes and favor bags.

How Many Guests to Invite?

First ask yourself how many children you can supervise comfortably. Next, ask yourself how big a party your budget will allow. Too many parents forget these important considerations and end up spending too much money or find themselves with more kids running through the house than they can handle.

For toddlers and preschoolers up to the age of five, the rule most often heard is to invite as many children as your child’s age, plus one. So for a child turning four, you would invite five children to the party. Sometimes this makes perfect sense based on the child’s personality. The idea is to prevent the birthday child from becoming overwhelmed by a large, noisy party. This allows the child to start with a small party and learn to handle a larger group each year. But plenty of kids can have a great time with a larger group of guests, so each parent needs to decide what approach will work best for their child.

Parents should not feel obligated to invite an entire class. Check your school handbook or with the teacher for rules about sending party invitations. Most classrooms have a policy that no invitations may be delivered at school, so you will need to track down addresses and mail the invitations.

Don’t be tempted to ignore this rule and send your child to school with the invitations just to save on postage. If the entire class does not receive an invitation, many young children will have their feelings hurt. The kids all know that little white envelopes mean a birthday party, so don’t hand out invitations at school! Be kind. You wouldn’t want your own child to be publicly excluded, so don’t do it to anyone else’s child.

And spend a few minutes coaching your child not to talk about the party at school. Explain that children not invited may be sad if they feel left out.

Should I Ask Guests to RSVP?

Yes, you definitely want to include a request for RSVP’s on the invitation, with your phone number and/or email address. Some parents are very good about calling to respond to invitations, but there are sure to be a few that will not call. You absolutely cannot assume that their child is not coming to your party! In these cases you just have to pick up the phone or send an email to find out who is coming. This way you will be able to plan for enough food and party favors. Keep the message short and say something like “will [their child’s name] be coming to the party this week?”

Personalized Invitations and Thank-You Notes

In my experience, sending personalized invitations really builds excitement before the party day. The other children become excited about your child’s party as soon as they open the invitation. I’ve found that the RSVP’s seem to come in more quickly, too. Many times I will start getting calls from parents the day my invitation is delivered.