By Debbie Denard
Most parents remember the dismay that accompanied being passed over for birthday party invitations during their own school days, but modern standards in schools have changed, with many school systems implementing a rule that effectively bans kids from passing out invitations unless the entire class is invited. There are several reasons why such a large gathering might be less than ideal, but getting around this rule and issuing invitations to selected children can be difficult territory to navigate.
If you’re forced to circumvent the rule and invite only a select few children, you aren’t without your options. Consider these solutions to the logistical problem of inviting the pared down list.
Request the Class Snail Mail List – Many schools, especially those of the private variety, hand out class directories along with their school handbooks and supply lists at the beginning of the year. If your child’s school has adopted a similar policy, mailing invitations to the homes of the kids that your youngster wishes to invite should be a breeze. For a more personal touch, let your kids help to create homemade invitations, rather than mass-produced store-bought options.
Use the Email or Phone Tree – Phone trees and email lists are generally intended to be used in the event of an unforeseen school closing or emergency; however, they can also prove useful when birthday time rolls around and it simply isn’t feasible to invite the entire class. Contact the parents of just the students you wish to invite; sending out a mass email or text will almost certainly drum up just as much controversy as choosing to hand invitations out to a select few in the crowded cafeteria.
Instruct Kids to Pass Out Invitations Privately – Provided that your child is old enough to understand that “privately” doesn’t mean on the playground or in the lunchroom, discussing the importance of being polite and discreet about passing out invitations can help your child learn basic etiquette while also helping you get around the “whole class or no invitations” rule. If there’s any doubt at all in your child’s ability to be discreet, though, this might not be the best route.
Keep the Guest List Down to Close Friends – Large-scale parties involving every acquaintance and distant relative that your child has could very easily prove to be more overwhelming to her than memorable, so striving to keep the guest list small and shooting for a more intimate gathering could be wise. As an added bonus, a small guest list comprised solely of close friends means that you’ll be able to easily contact everyone on it; no need to bring invitations to school at all!
Take Advantage of Social Media – The Internet has certainly changed the way that adults connect and interact; in no area is this more immediately apparent than social media. If you have the parents of all the children you wish to invite on your friends list, shooting a personal message requesting a mailing address for a physical invite or an email address for a virtual one is the work of a moment.
Use Extracurricular Activity Meetings – Extracurricular activities, especially those that are not school sponsored, give kids the chance to meet and befriend others that they might not have even met otherwise. Even if the kids at dance class or hockey practice do attend the same school as your child, the smaller group size and more intimate setting makes it easier to quietly slip an invitation into a child’s hands.
While accommodating rules like this one can be inconvenient, it’s important to remember that the feelings of a child are at stake; be sure to avoid any deliberately exclusionary behavior, and keep the thoughts and reactions of a young child in mind as you plan your strategy. Furthermore, make sure your child knows that holding the lack of an invitation over another child or blatantly discussing the party afterward in front of an excluded child isn’t polite and can lead to hurt feelings.