How many kids are too many for a birthday party?

My son’s birthday is coming up and I need help.

Okay parents, we need to talk parties. Birthday parties to be precise. How much is too much? Or rather, how many kids are too many?

I have kids coming out of my ears, okay not my own – I only have two of those, but in my day-to-day social circles there are bazillions (only a slight exaggeration) of children.

There’s the nieces and nephews, the preschool friends, the school friends and the kids of our family friends. That’s a lot of kids. Like A LOT. It’s my son’s fifth birthday in a few weeks and I’ve told him he can have a party but where do I draw the line? How many kids is too many?

Do I just set a limit and let him pick from all of his social groups? Or do I say we’ll have family and “5 preschool friends only?” Is it case of “invite most of the preschool kids then you have to invite all of preschool kids?”

I know the easy thing to do would be to have no party and just have family over for cake in the arvo on his birthday but he’s turning five and he isn’t going to big school next year with his preschool group, so I really wanted to give him a party with that group.

But then I have our family friends who see him regularly and want to celebrate too. Am I obliged to invite them along? Urgh. When did birthdays become such a big deal? And cake? OMG don’t get me started on the cake.

Is a small group of friends a better way to go?

Is two separate parties going overboard? I went to one last week that had preschool friends from 12-2 and dancing friends from 3-5. I actually thought that wasn’t a bad idea.

I had my elder son’s last birthday at home and let me tell you 25 6-year-old kids is absolute CRAZINESS (I cannot emphasise the craziness enough here). From the parties I’ve been to, which in my almost 7 years of parenting is about 700 million, I find, on average, most parties have between 20-25 kids. I want to say that’s excessive but it would be totally hypocritical of me because I’ve had that many at my kids’ birthdays in the past.

And then there’s the parents who send the “oh can I bring my other child who you’ve ever met before?” I, too, am guilty of this but if it does happen and you legitimately don’t have child care at least offer to pay for them. Don’t expect the party thrower to foot the bill for your plus one child. I think parents need to get together and work out some sort of party etiquette rule book.

Things like:

  • Max 20 kids – parties are expensive sorry but I gotta draw the line somewhere.
  • Sugar is expected – don’t send your child expecting them to be given kale chips, it just won’t happen.
  • Text message RSVP is okay – I’m too damn busy to make small talk on calls with 20 parents I don’t know.
  • If you are going to drop your child off let me know in advance – maybe also meet me in advance. I know I’m not a crazy person but do you? No? Well at least say hello at drop off next week, will you.
  • No siblings at a play centre party unless you pay or unless we are super close friends – I’m not paying for a sibling I’ve never met because you can’t find a baby sitter. Not my problem.

Are these rules too tough? How many kids are too many for a party?

Like this? Try these:

The birthday party invite said "feel free to drop your child off."

How to make a kids' birthday cake, like a professional.