A step by step guide to getting your party invitations right. Everything you need to know about numbers, wording, who to invite and handling RSVPs.
Before getting into your invitations, it’s worth saying that this part of the your party preparation can be a source of stress. So it really helps to get it right: your party will be a whole lot easier and hassle free. If you search the blogs and mums discussion forums, you’ll see what I mean.
The reason being that people tend to be slow to respond to an RSVP, or they don’t RSVP at all. Then some people don’t turn up, others do turn up unexpected, and some turn up with siblings. So the way I see this is the invitation must be all about the RSVP….and of course your DD or DS party. [look up and publish the symbols]
So here is the step by step guide to getting your invitations right.
Let’s assume you have decided on your theme and location. Here are the next steps.
How many do we invite?
Start a list of who your and your DD would like to come. It’s a good idea to keep the numbers fairly low. The more kids you invite, the more of a challenge you create: for RSVPs, for food and for all round organization.
My advice is to keep the list to 10 kids for parties for under 5 years olds. Above 5 you can consider more, but you certainly don’t need to invite the whole class: save that for another party unless you a feeling brave. Mums often ask if that will offend the children not invited: I really think it’s not an issue: especially for small numbers.
Should we share a party?
You can also consider sharing a party with another child. This can be a great idea. We’ve done this a few times and it works well because it helps share the load, makes the invitations easier and gives you someone to discuss ideas with.
Choose a convenient date
You want people to turn up, and for it to be easy, so pick a date that will work well for most people. Here are some top tips:
- try to hold your party on a day separate from the kids birthday itself: that way your LO  will have two opportunites for celebration and fun. It also takes the pressure off you a little as you won’t be trying to finalise a party set up on the same day as you want to celebrate and open presents.
- If you have a summer or Christmas child, consider holding the party either side of the holidays. Our youngest has a July birthday and we tend to hold her parties just before schools break up. After that a lot of parents go off to the beach and numbers get tricky.
- Double check that the date you choose is not on a religious holiday, if that is relevant. For example, look out for Ramadan.
- Your child won’t mind at all the idea of having a party a week or two separate from their actual birthday: it’s just not a problem.
Weekend or school night?
A weekend or Friday party is better for most people. Most of the parties our kids have been to are on Saturdays or Sundays during the day. A school night can work but it’s likely to be tricky for some parents to drop off or collect their child.
Get all the contact details for the guests
It’s a good idea to have a detailed list or a spreadsheet for the party.
Just a simple list of names, with their contact details, and a record of whether they can come. Later, you could also use this list to make a note of whether you’ve sent out thank you notes for any presents.
I recommend you get the email and mobile number for the parents of each guest. That way you can easily make contact and chase them up. Don’t just rely on dropping off invitations at school.
It’s great fun to make invitations with your child, and you can save yourself a bit of money. There are many templates available online to buy or for free: try a Google search. You will need a color printer and some envelopes.
Alternatively you can buy lovely invitations from card shops, stationery shops, supermarkets and online. They often cover the popular themes and look great. Of course, some of them will cost a bit, and some will just not look right. They all come with envelopes.
Take your time to pick what works and check a few things when you buy the invites:
- make sure there’s enough space to write what you need to on them. Be carefully because some invitations look great but have limited space for writing all your details.
- check there is a space for the RSVP information, some invites don’t have this.
- always include the name of the guest: check the invite has a “Dear” or “To” section.
- printed invitations come in packs of varying sizes: from 8 up to 20. Make sure you get enough with a couple of spares. A pack of 8 won’t go far.
These little things can make a big difference!
What to include on the invitation
Here’s the basic information to include on the invitation. Most of it is fairly obvious, but some items can get overlooked. Surprisingly some printed invites don’t include all this:
- Dear: the guest name, make sure you get the spellings right!
- Come Celebrate or You are invited to: the party theme, who it’s for and the age they are turning.
- From, To: drop off and pick up time is important
- Place: Address of party.
- RSVP Please: your contact info and a request to RSVP by a certain day. (See details later)
On the envelope include the kid’s surname and class to avoid any possibility of mix up.
Extra information to include
I suggest you also consider including this extra information as it will help everyone. If the invite is limited for space, then just type it up and print out a separate sheet to include.
- A map and directions to your venue. Include a postcode or zip code for sat navs, and where to park if that’s important.
- What to wear or bring: if your party needs the kids to dress up, give suggestions to help. If they need outdoor clothing, make sure you state that. They may need suncream if they are outdoors.
- Are siblings welcome? If so here is the wording: “siblings welcome but please could you let me know in advance so we can include them in the numbers for catering and party bags.”
- Are parents expected to stay? Anywhere from the age of 4 to 6 parents may expect to just drop off and collect later. It’s best you decide what works for you and make it clear on the invite.
- Dietary requirements: put a quick note for them to let you know about any special dietary needs.
When and how to send the invitations
I suggest you send out 2 messages: the first is a save the date which you can send out by email 2 months beforehand. You can then send out a physical invitation 4 to 6 weeks ahead of the party.
You can post the invitations, or arrange to distribute them at school. Just be aware of sensitivities if some kids are not being invited. It may be easiest to ask the form teacher to distribute them.
RSVP: chasing responses
I’ve heard of people sending out up to 30 invites and hearing back from only half of them. That’s not unusual, so don’t take it personally if this happens to you!
To avoid stress here there are a few things you can do: it might sometimes feel a bit rude, but it’s clear that some parents don’t always share the same level of party etiquette that you might have.
- On your invitations, make sure you clearly ask for an RSVP. I suggest the best direct request is to ask them to text you a simple yes or no, by 10 days before the event.
- Give multiple response methods, so list on the invitation your email, mobile phone, address.
- You could include a tear off strip on the invite where they can tick yes or no.
- Give them a week, then start to chase up. I would suggest an email or even to call personally. This is why it’s key to have all the contact information for your guests.
I hope this blog is useful: check the site for my other blogs about parties, and how to minimize stress. Have fun!
And do let me know any comments or feedback.