It’s His Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To {Trimming the Guest List}

It’s no secret that I LOVE throwing parties–I find any excuse to break out the striped straws and personalized tags. Some people cannot stand the “Pinterest pressure” of it all, but I thrive on dreaming up themed parties, executing them, and then standing back and admiring all the fun details that went into it. I know my sons won’t care that I make a personalized birthday shirt each year or spend hours designing the perfect invitation–it’s just something that burns off my creative energy. This past year, my oldest wanted a Spiderman birthday party. Had he ever seen the show? No, but he insisted for months. As we were figuring out where to have it, it hit me that our guest list included over 100 potential guests! That’s a lot of Spiderman masks to cut out. We realized that his first two birthdays were more for us, but now that he is getting bigger and developing his own friends outside of our circle, our number of invites has become insane. So what’s a mom to do?

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1. Remember that it’s not your party. Once we reminded ourselves of this little fact, it became a little easier to condense the list of all the people we knew. Does he know this person’s children? Am I inviting them for me or him? I knew we were going to have to do this since we had a newborn and couldn’t really afford a big party anyway. So one thing that allowed me to feel a little better about trimming our list down was throwing myself a birthday party this past fall. That way, I got to have a party all to myself and invite anyone that I wanted!

2. Listen to the birthday boy/girl. Judah is old enough now that he is able to tell us who his best friends are and who he plays with the most. He talks about his friends ALL the time, so even if he forgot one or two, I knew to invite them regardless. I also asked him periodically leading up to sending out the invites, and it was always a pretty consistent list.


3. Stick to the same age levels. It was so nice this year to see Judah surrounded mainly by all his friends from daycare or church–he was able to shine and really enjoy all his birthday activities. And the “big kids” that were there were Judah’s friends’ big brothers or sisters and were used to understanding that it’s a younger birthday party. I can only hope Judah will remember this when it’s Jonas’ turn!


4. Let your friends know. If you do decide that you have to cut down your list of invites and some of your close friends wind up on the chopping block, just let them know. It’s a simple conversation and one that goes a long way. I’m starting to see that the older our kids get, the smaller our list will most likely become. And that’s ok. But just give your friends a heads-up if you and your family decide to have a smaller gathering. It’s definitely better to be open about it than seeing a post on Instagram and have them think, “Did they not want us there?”

5. Understand that your child sometimes won’t get invited. The other side of the coin. Judah has been cut from a few lists, and I completely understand. No feelings are hurt and no one is worrying if we did something wrong. This is especially the case when our kids start requesting pay-by-the-kid places–you just can’t invite every child you know, as bad as you may want to. If you get that phone call or text, be graceful and know that the parent calling is having such an internal struggle.

This past spring, I was literally in tears having to cut down our list, but thankfully I have understanding friends and people who have all been there before me. The last thing I wanted to do was give the impression that we loved anyone less or didn’t want certain people there. It can be a hard thing to navigate, but do remember that it is okay to cut down when you need to.

Have birthday parties changed for your family from year to year due to different situations and circumstances? In what ways?

Jenny lives with her husband, Joel, and their sons, Judah and Jonas, in Zachary, a suburb north of Baton Rouge. She works part-time as an editor and her favorite part of the week is when she gets to exchange her pencil skirt for yoga pants and pretend to be a SAHM for a few days. When she’s not toting her sons around town or saving her toddler's life one head dive off the couch at a time, she is designing invitations, stationery, and logos for local moms, brides, and professionals. Jenny’s been married since 2007, and she and Joel welcomed Judah into their lives in April 2012 and Jonas in March 2015. She loves to squeeze in as many date nights as possible and spends her free time chronicling her family’s adventures and recent designs on her personal blog, the Gilberts.


  1. The struggle is for real! Every year. Every party. I’m gonna have to save this post and read it to myself each year going forward. We are attempting our first small birthday party for Trace this weekend. He got to pick 4 friends for a sleepover and bowling. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to going through minor state of depression. 🙁 I’m only coping by distraction myself with plans for Glori’s 1st Birthday extravaganza! 😉


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