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When People Don't RSVP to Your Kid's Party

When Guests Don't RSVP to Kids' Parties

What should you do if you don't receive many — or any — RSVPs for your child's birthday party?

Circle of Moms member Tonia G. says she's only received one RSVP to her 9-year-old son's party, and she sent invitations a week ago. "My boy is a great kid. I am sad for him," she says, wondering what to do now that there might be few friends around for the birthday celebration. Similarly, Laura says that no one has replied to the invite for her 6-year-old son's bowling birthday party. "I don't know what to do . . . I feel really bad for him."

If you, too, are singing the birthday blues because invitees haven't RSVP'd, then Circle of Moms members offer the following four tips.

Keep reading.

1. Follow Up

Circle of Moms members say that when you don't receive many RSVPs for your child's birthday party, the first thing you shouldn't do is fret. There are myriad reasons why people might not respond. Perhaps parents don't understand the meaning and importance of RSVPs, Beth G. says. Or, Jackie adds, "People might want to come [but] they're just too busy to RSVP or have forgotten or lost the invitation. This happens to me sometimes, even though I hate it when people do it to me. I certainly don't mean to be a rude cow, but I simply forget!"


Especially when you send out invites through the kids, moms like Joy say you have to consider that parents might not have seen the invitation. "Children forget things sometimes, and it's possible some of the invites never made it to the parents."

To get a better idea of who actually will be attending, Circle of Moms members like Cristi S. suggest you follow up with a phone call, text, or email: "What I found works best is to get phone numbers or email addresses for all the parents and call them a few days beforehand. I began doing this because I had a few parties where I planned for a certain number and twice the amount showed up," she says. "Another tactic that I think is a little brazen (and I've never had the guts to do)," she adds, "is to put a note on the invitation to say that those who don't RSVP won't be let in the door. My son's friend's mother did this, and she got an RSVP for every person who showed up."

2. Reschedule the Party

If you don't receive enough responses to warrant a party, then you can always change the party date or venue. Celebrating a birthday on a different date is actually a common tactic of parents whose children have birthdays during the Summer or around a holiday. Sabrina T., for example, says she frequently encounters problems with people not replying to invitations because her son's birthday is on Dec. 8. When she doesn't seem to get a good response, she phones parents for feedback to see if an alternate time would be better. She also has let her son have a party in the Summer instead, so he can have fun when it's warm outside. 

Kaye also has moved her child's December birthday party to earlier in the month or to January. "It eliminates a lot of the heartache for the child who ends up thinking it's them, when it is not the case at all," she explains. "Just be sure and explain to your child what you are doing and why."

3. Celebrate at School

For a child who wants to party with classmates, parents also can ask the school permission to have cake in class. "I find it a perfect surprise for my son every year showing up at his classroom with gifts for the whole class and a cake," Dina A. shares. "He sets off his candles, has fun with his friends for half an hour or so, enjoys the cake, all the kids are happy about their gifts, and I'm back home clean and clear."

An in-class party has other advantages, she adds: "You're catering for no more than a cake . . . you don't need to deal with any RSVPs or any inconsiderate parents. You're having the party for your kid and his friends to enjoy . . . and they're all there happy and smiling."

Even if you don't make as big of an effort as Dina does, an in-class party is a lot of fun, Madtilde A. says, and of course all the classmates show up.

4. Have a Backup Plan 

Even if you have several RSVPs, it helps to predetermine a birthday party backup plan in case fewer than the expected number of guests attend. Tracie D. recalls one birthday party for her daughter, for which 10 people didn't RSVP until the day of the party. "But it gets better," she says. "Eight of them didn't show up, after I'd made a frenzied last-minute trip to get more goody bag stuff and prizes, and [to] change the size of the cake."

When Bethany A.'s son is having a party to which he wants to invite school pals, her backup plan is to invite a few family, friends, and neighbors with children "so regardless if his classmates show up, there will be others there to celebrate with him."

And even if just one or two people show up for the party, you can still make the day special, says Rebecca S., speaking from experience. She says her son Caidyn "was crushed last year" when no one showed up for his birthday party. So now, she suggests parents "really make plans to do [something] instead of a party if no one does show, like a special breakfast, movies in the afternoon, and maybe his favorite dinner and playing together," to focus on his happiness that day instead of how many people are at a party. 

Melanie B. adds that you can emphasize to your child that if just one friend shows up, that can make the party even more special. With a young child, you can "take him to the zoo or something like that, and he will forget about [how many people showed up]," mom Beth says. If you do a special activity, like bumper cars, a grown-up movie, or minigolf, then it won't matter if only one or two friends are there, Mary G. adds. "He might have the best day ever; unplanned adventures are usually the best."

Overall, Melanie B. says, you have to "take lemons and make lemonade." Miriam G. agrees, summarizing that parents have to remember the point of a child's birthday party. "It's not about the number of people there to celebrate; it's about the fun of the celebration."

Join The Conversation
Tracy15299877 Tracy15299877 3 years
My child has some mild special needs. She's very smart and fun but awkward. She's only ever gotten a few invitations to parties, maybe 5 in her life. We don't have any family around. Once we even had a lady at church giving out invitations and not including my daughter. So when she got those few invitations she and i were both so overjoyed. Please think about including those kids who you know don't have a lot of friends. Their parents will rsvp, your child will get a great birthday gift, and your efforts will be appreciated. Make sure your child attends their party too. I guarantee they'll go out of their way to throw a nice party.
pmmom pmmom 3 years
I had to leave a comment in response to FreedomSmellsNice. Your comment is so elitist and rude! EVERY single child is special. How dare you say that someone's kid is not. It's parents like you who create these exclusive clicks who act like only their kids are entitled to have a nice birthday. I'm sure most of these parents who are sad for their children are trying hard for their children to make friends by inviting school mates to their parties. If you had any appreciation for that maybe you would encourage your kids to attend a kids birthday party that they or you "don't like." Grow up and teach your kids to do the right thing.
FreedomSmellsNice1369688736 FreedomSmellsNice1369688736 4 years
If kids don't show up or RSVP, your kid probably doesn't have as many friends as you think they do. These birthday parties these days are crazy and over the top. Lack of RSVP's are a tell tale sign, in yet, parents still feel they need to keep up with the Joneses. Wake up! Your kid is not that special. Instead, take the money and spend a special day with your kid. I threw big birthday parties for several years and people showed up & RSPV'd. Why? Because I knew their parents and their kids, they were actually friends! I'm sorry, but if my kid doesn't like your kid, or if I don't like your kid, my kid is not coming. I will RSVP, however, because it is rude not to.
Hillary558 Hillary558 4 years
This happened to my son for his 12th birthday. We had a bowling party and only 1 friend showed up. It was awful. He felt horrible about it. In fact, he is going to be 17 years old and still brings it up on ocassion. I think if you know ahead of time that no one is going to show up, then you should cancel the party and tell your child a little white lie about why he can't have his party as planned. I know some of you will say it's a bad thing to lie to your child, but I know from experience that in this situation, it is well worth it.
Victoria22364 Victoria22364 4 years
We've been planning beach parties for the last few years, so my Force-An-RSVP tactic is to only provide rain date details to the people who RSVP. "Call or email your RSVP for the bad weather address..." or something along those lines a week before the party. I think lots of people just get swept up and forget, so its a good reminder
Cheryl14469861 Cheryl14469861 4 years
Sending an invite to a party only a week ahead? There's your problem. I've always sent a "save the date" a month before the party, an invitation 2-3 weeks ahead, and follow up w/ reminders one week prior to the actual event. If I'm serving food/drink and such, at the very least I need to know how much to prepare refreshment wise. Another trick I've used that's been really successful is to make the party "adult" friendly... i.e. we BBQ hotdogs and burgers, have a full bar, or at least a cooler full of beer, and then everyone brings a side dish to share. They get to bring their kids, of course, who run around like maniacs having a blast, and the grownups get to have a good time sitting in the sunshine, eating/drinking and enjoying their kids without having to police them. Then I do a cake or cupcakes at the end so the kids are thrilled, and my daughter feels like she had a rockin' party just for her, even though really it was more for the grownups. :) Another thing we've done is take my daughter and one (or at most two) of her closest buddies to the local zoo for the day, or out for ice cream and playdate in the park. Again, she is made to feel special, and I don't end up feeling butt-hurt because some insensitive people couldn't be bothered to RSVP to my shindig. Hope next year is better for you! XO
CaseySchmidt CaseySchmidt 4 years
Not a single child we invited showed up to his 6th birthday party. We had moved just before the date and his birthday fell on the 1st week of school. I postponed the party for 2 weeks to allow time to pass out invites to his class and still no one showed. We were having the party outside our apartment pool in the green area so he ended up making new friends in the pool instead, but he still talks about 5 yrs later.
TichandaThompson TichandaThompson 4 years
One thing that helps is sending an email to the parents to - save the date at least a month or two before the party because weekends fill up very quickly when you have kids. And then once a kid comes home with an invite it is another reminder. I also follow up a couple days before as a friendly reminder. This year I initially only had 3 kids RSVP for my son's party but in the end, all but one classmate came as the RSVP's trickled in a day or two before the event.
MelissaMcClinnis MelissaMcClinnis 4 years
My son is 9, and he has never had more than one or two RSVP or show up... out of his whole class. Often, no one came except family... then I have goody bags and cake for a week because if someone showed at the last minute I didn't want them to feel left out. If they can't make it, fine.... but is it too much to ask for a 45 second phone call saying, "Sorry, my son/daughter can't make it, because ________."?
Emilys-Mum Emilys-Mum 4 years
That happened to my poor little girl on her 4th birthday; no one RSVPed and no one showed up, except my best friend who has a daughter about the same age that I begged to come. My daughter is popular, outgoing and has many friends. I don't blame the children, it's their horrid stuck up parents! I am not an outgoing person, so I have trouble speaking to the other parents. Most afternoons, I just go pick her up and leave right away (my husband takes her in the morning). I don't feel comfortable lingering and just chatting. Is that the reason that everyone was so rude and didn't RSVP, nor let their kids come to the birthday party? Thank goodness in the fall, she will be going to a different school!
CareyGarcia CareyGarcia 4 years
I was unpleasantly surprised at just how many parents don't bother to RSVP to evites! Unbelievably RUDE! I always expect a couple to miss/forget/etc... but come on, when like 80% don't bother it's just unbelievable to me, I could never even phantom doing that to someone who invites us to a party. Unfortunately am going to have to start doing the "you and a couple of close friends do something special" but no birthday parties (except small one with family). Too stressful trying to get responses so can plan accordingly. I would just love to be able to ask these parents why they think it is alright to "blow off" invites (how hard is it to click the "no" button!!!!!). Would love someone to comment why so many do this?
kmckay kmckay 4 years
Agreed with the above poster... it is pretty inconsiderate to throw a "party" in the classroom. As a 2nd grade teacher I can't imagine anything more distracting and rude than someone showing up with sugary treats and gifts and then leaving me with 25 rowdy sugared up kiddos while I try and do my job! Not to mention, how are the other kids going to feel when their parents can't do the same? Keep the parties on your own time please!
Sami711 Sami711 4 years
Speaking from a teacher's perspective, schools typically frown on in-class parties. There are many reasons why, but one of the main ones is that curriculum is so demanding now and if we took 30 minutes to an hour for each child (especially with the massive class sizes that many of us are facing) to have a party, we would lose almost 2 full days of instructional time. As for RSVPing, use e-vites 2 weeks before and send reminders a week before and three days before. Typically the e-vite site sends a reminder email, too.
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