The social minefield of kids' party invites

Kids' party

A school in Bath is reported to have banned pupils from handing out birthday party invitations at school unless the entire class is on the guest list. Father-of-three Ben Milne explores the social minefield of children's parties.

It's one of the big questions for parents of small children. Do you invite the whole class to little Harry or Sophie's party, or do you face the fall-out?

What the head teacher of Kingswood Prep School in Bath has proposed isn't that revolutionary. At my children's primary school, for instance, the policy is for the child to give their teacher the invitations, which will then be placed discreetly in the invitees' school bags or trays. Nobody feels snubbed, and everybody's happy. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

Oh yes. Children.

There you are, waiting for the hordes to arrive, furniture all re-arranged, and party food out on the table. Then your little darling realises they've got a school bag full of invites they've forgotten to give to the teacher. This actually happened to my nephew on his 10th birthday. He was remarkably sanguine about this (the unexpected windfall of unlimited Wotsits seemed to soften the blow somewhat).

And if you do invite the whole class, what then? Do you really want your living room used to re-enact Battle Royale with party bags? Or if you want to keep the repair bill down, do you throw large sums of money at the local multiplex or five-a-side pitch?

So it's time to whittle down the list. There's the Katie Hopkins method (exclude any child who doesn't share a name with a minor royal) or else there's a process of intense negotiation down from the 200 closest friends your child announces they want to invite, down to the manageable four you had in mind.

But is it so bad not being invited to parties? Like a lot of not-very-nice, but survivable things in childhood - not being picked for the team, being blamed for something you didn't do - a snub isn't nice, but it's a small but valuable lesson for the hardships life one day throws at you.

As Nietzsche (or was it Kelly Clarkson?) said, "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger." I don't think he had kids' parties in mind, though.

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