Birthday Invitation Etiquette

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Whether you're planning a birthday party for your little one or a more adult soiree, birthday party invitation etiquette is the same. By knowing what to put on your invites and when to send them out, you might secure yourself more attendees to your party. A well-worded invitation sent at the right time gives your guests all the information they need to plan to attend your -- or your child's -- party.

The Guests

It can be tempting to go all-out when inviting others to a party. For a child's party, don't feel pressured to invite every kid in the class. Instead, a solid rule-of-thumb is to invite as many kids as your child's age plus one. For instance, if your little one is turning five, six kids is enough. Just make sure you child doesn't hand out invites in a public forum -- instead of giving them out in school, it's more polite to mail them or bring them to each child's house personally so feelings don't get hurt in class.

Obviously if you're planning a grownup party, the rules for inviting people quietly still apply, but the number of invitees depends on your budget and your space. Mailing the invites personally to each guest can prevent hurt feelings.

Invite Inclusions

You'll need to check off all the boxes when listing information in the invitations. Some of the most important info includes the date, time, who the party is for, anything the attendees should bring, the dress code, a method for RSVP contact and any special information guests might need such as, "Shh, it's a surprise!" While paper invites are traditional, it's OK to invite via email as well -- just make sure all the proper information that would be included on a paper invite is in the email message, or create a separate invitation document and attach it to the email.


Proper etiquette dictates that a birthday invitation be stated in third person. Instead of, "We invite you to David's birthday," it should read, "David's parents, John and Sue, are excited to invite you to celebrate David's birthday." Or, "You are cordially invited to celebrate David's birthday" works as well. Keep the language formal for grownup parties, while more casual and brighter language sets the tone for a child's birthday party.


Proper etiquette dictates that you send out invites up to eight weeks in advance. However, that might be too far in advance for a child's birthday, so stick to two to four weeks ahead of time instead. That gives guests time to prepare and schedule so you get the best turnout. In general, the more formal an event, the farther in advance you should send out the invites. If you're holding a swanky adults-only affair, plan on sending them four to eight weeks ahead of time.


You don't have to require that guests RSVP if they're coming, but it's helpful to have a general idea of guest count for food and favors. Give guests a couple options for RSVP'ing, such as phone, text or email. You can also ask for "regrets only" to make it easier on those who plan on attending. It's fine to remind guests who haven't yet RSVP'd with a quick follow-up email or phone call if you really need a head count.