A Beginners Guide to Manners Invitations & RSVPs

The world of kids’ parties can be tricky to navigate, especially if this is your first child.  Who should you invite? When should you send out invitations? Should you ask people to RSVP or try “Regrets Only”?  Unless your child is older, most of the planning will land on your shoulders, so be sure you’re up to date about invitation etiquette! And, planning the party, is also a good time to teach your kids about the manners and etiquette of invitations. Read on for our guide to invitations and RSVPs!


Daily Mom_20140703_Gia invite

Before you can have a party, you need to invite people to it! Try to involve your child in the planning process as much as possible and use it as a way to teach them about the etiquette involved in party invitations.

  • First, with some help from your little one, pick some adorable invitations ! Check out Etsy for inexpensive and custom designs. Or, if you’re having the party at a venue like a bounce house place, ask if they supply invitations.
  • Sit with your child and make a guest list. You don’t have to invite the whole class! Invite some or all, but don’t leave out just one child. Take the opportunity to explain to your child that excluding just one child would be extremely hurtful. And, if you decide not to invite everyone, be sure to explain that it’s not polite to talk about the party in front of others who aren’t invited. With older children, word might travel to the other kids, so arm your children with a response just in case some asks them why they weren’t invited to the party. A simple and gentle, “we’re keeping it small” should suffice.
  • Make sure the invitation includes all the relevant information:
    • Who the party is for
    • What it’s for — Specify if it’s a birthday party or an end of the year ice cream party (etc.)
    • When it will take place —  Be sure to include both the date and start time and end time
    • Where it will take place — Include the name of the place and the address
    • Any specialty attire — If socks are needed for bounce house place or bathing suit is needed for swimming, be sure to remind your guests.
    • How/when to RSVP — Consider including your email address for RSVPs or specify that a text is ok. Parents who don’t know you well are more likely to text or email their response.
  • Avoid putting “Regrets Only” on the invitation. “Regrets Only” means that guests should only call you if they can’t come. Inevitably there will be people who can’t attend but who will not call to “regretfully” let you know they can’t attend. But you’ll assume they’re coming because you haven’t heard from them. So, to avoid any confusion, go with RSVP!
Did you know…?  RSVP is an abbreviation of the French phrase répondez, s’il vous plaît which means “reply, please”.
  • Send out invitations approximately one month before the party. If the party is taking place during a busy time of the year, send them out earlier!
  • Mail them or, if you have email addresses, use an Evite. Avoid having your child pass out the invitations at school. Invitations could get lost or, if someone is absent, your child might forget to give the invitation to the child when he or she returns.
  • Be clear when you address the invites. If all children in the family are invited, address the invitation to “The Smith Family”. If it’s just 1 of several siblings, ONLY put that child’s name on the invitation.
  • Once kids are over 6, think about whether or not you want parents to stay at the party. “Drop off optional” is always a good phrase to include on an invitation if you’re okay with parents dropping of their child for the party and then picking the child up when it’s over.



When your child is invited to a party, it’s a great time to talk to them about what it means to RSVP.

  • RSVP in a timely manner, in the way specified on the invitation. If your child is old enough, teach your child responsibility, and have him or her RSVP!
  • If you need more time to RSVP–maybe you’re trying to figure out care for another child or you have something else going on that day — tell the host that you’ll let them know by a certain date, and then be sure to stick to your time frame.
  • Don’t ask to bring extra people, siblings, etc.
  • If it’s your party and people haven’t RSVPed, give them a few days and then email or call them to see if they’ll be attending the party.
Once the party is over, don’t forget about the Thank You notes! Check out our post A Beginner’s Guide to Thank You Notes!

Photo Credit:

1. The Paro Post 2. Duggan Designs 3. The Quinntessential Mommy



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