This is the tricky question!
Do you always find yourself deliberating who 'we' are going to invite to this years birthday party?
In the early years it easy. Family & friends! It usually blows out of control and involves providing catering, maybe even including alcohol, for up to 50+ adults! Well I know my son's first birthday did! It was fantastic! Everyone there celebrating his first year of life! It's a milestone for us parents! Hooray! We did it!! Pat-pat-pat on the back! Sip! Gulp!
It is also quite common for some to incorporate first birthdays with naming days or baby's baptism. Friends and family travelling from near and far!
But the following years can be really tricky especially following on from the first birthday blowout, culling down to just a handful or so. Do you find yourself saying "it's hard to invite one and not the other", or "they invited us so we better invite them"? It get's harder as they get older, apparently. My son is only 4. I've heard from other mums that its harder once they are at kinder or school and the whole class has to come! Well, that really is up to you! It's really lovely if you included everyone, but sometimes its just not possible for you to have 20+ kids in your house.
There is a party number's 'Rule' floating around on the net somewhere that goes something like this.... the right amount of children to invite is the age of your child plus one or two? For example, if they're 3 perhaps invite 4-5. That sounds fair enough, however, a friend did invite 5 children to her daughters 3rd birthday party, 3 who were siblings, and she ended up with only 2 kids on the day as that family had all fallen ill. Allow for this as you are sure to have one unable to come on the day.
Be prepared for some parents and smaller siblings to stay. Just because 5-6 year olds get dropped off at school, we shouldn't assume that all kids are going to cope with being in a strange home for a 2 hour party. Welcome mum's and dad's to stay. They will be extra eyes supervising the masses. They may even help you in the kitchen? Don't feel obligated to put on food for the adults unless that is the type of party you want. It is a kids party after all. Parents who choose to stay will be happy with a coffee & a piece of cake!
Inviting all your child's friends from across all their different social activities can also clash with the right mix of kids at the party. It might be hard for a child who doesn't know any of the other kids to actually join in if they are shy. In some cases, you could have a 'school friend's' party and their special friend could have a birthday play date, just the two of them on another day.
There are no rules, no rights or wrongs! This is purely my observation from doing hundreds of kids parties over the years. I hope that you can get an insight into the party world before your child's special day to decide what might work for you. We, as parents just want the best for our kids. We go to all lengths to make sure they feel loved. They will feel loved that you have celebrated their new number, whether it's 3 friends or 30. I have seen incredible parties with just 3 children and some with 40 children! It depends on your child, how they will cope with all the action, your venue & your of course, your purse!
If you need help planning your next party, just ask!