Birthday party invites for a 4-yr old's party

Our daughter is turning four in a few weeks and we’re going to have a small-ish party for her at our place. We are working on an invite list and it’s pretty easy so far, as she’s only four so it’s just children of our friends and some kids that she used to play with at her old daycare, and who she still sees and plays with from time to time.

Small quandary that we couldn’t decide on, so we thought we’d ask for some opinions…

She’s in a preschool now and her class is fairly small, and the other kids are all roughly her same age. We really do not want to invite all of the kids in her class as we don’t really know the parents and some of the kids, frankly, are terrors. However, there is one girl in the class that our daughter is pretty close to and her parents are people we like and would like to get to know better. We would like to invite this little girl to the party.

So the old rule of kids parties is, you can’t invite just one kid in a class - you have to invite all of the kids, or none of them. But that really seems like more of an “older kids in grade school” kind of rule. As far as I know, three and four year olds in preschool aren’t running around gossiping about the party they didn’t get an invite to. But obviously, if the parents know each other - they might talk and it could cause hurt feelings possibly.

Inviting all of the kids just isn’t an option. But what would you do in this situation? Would you invite just the one kid solo, or not at all. Would you express to her parents that they were the only ones invited and ask for their discretion? For what it’s worth, I don’t believe they really talk to any other parents except us (our drop-off and pick-up times mostly coincide).

We’re leaning towards inviting her but wanted to see what others thought about the situation in case we were heading in the wrong direction here.

If it’s just one child out of her class I think you’ll be fine. I would make sure your conversation about the party happens outside of the daycare (parking lot would be fine). If you want to comment on the invitation at all you might say something like:

It’s mostly family and neighbors but she just loves your daughter so much that she wants her to be there as well.

You’re fine inviting one kid. I wouldn’t even worry about it. I’d just hand the invite to the other parents when you see them.

I’ve run into several variations of the rule with teachers. Some teachers don’t care - our favorite kindergarten teacher used to say to parents “If you really want to have 20 five year olds running around your house, good luck!”

Some teachers have a rule that if you want to give the invitations out in class, you have to invite everyone. A variant of this is that you have to invite everyone of the same gender as the student, and if you invite one opposite gender, you’ve got to invite them all. This is presumably so kids don’t get upset that they saw invitations going out. We’ve ignored this rule in the past without problem.

And the worst rule some teachers try to enforce is that you have to invite the whole class, regardless of the invitation distribution method. Doesn’t matter if you’re mailing the invitations directly. Even if you’re inviting your next door neighbor who your kid has been friends with since they were in diapers. This rule is of course impossible to enforce. We’ve also ignored this rule.

We never gave much thought to inviting only a few kids from my daughter’s daycare class. I would think that most parent’s woud be reasonable in realizing that you can’t really invite everybody. For those that aren’t, well, you are probably better off if they avoid you in the future anyway.

We have tried to be discrete about it though. Each kid has a folder into which the teacher puts their daily “scorecard” and artwork produced that day for the parents to take home. Slipping the invites into the appropriate folders makes it easy to get them distributed without making a big production of it.

The main problem is leaving kids out, in such a way as they appear to be singled out. If you are only inviting one other kid from the class, this should not be a problem. Just don’t be the parent who invites everyone in the class except little Joey … someone did that to my brother more than 40 years ago and my mom still to this day hasn’t forgiven her! :smiley:

In my neck of the woods (I have a 5 year old) kids birthday parties seem to be outrageously ostentatious - practically everyone invites the whole class, and has inflatable bouncy castles, hires professional magicians, etc. The last one we went to, the mom sewed special magician capes for all the kids to take home - something like 20 of 'em - and hired a magician.

The problem here of course is that if your kid gets invited to a party, the pressure is on to invite the kid who invited yours - and to have a party somewhat comparable.