What To Do When Uninvited Siblings Attend Your Kid's Birthday Party

kids birthday party

You're on a limited budget for your youngster's upcoming birthday party (or other occasion). Everything is set until some invited guests are accompanied by uninvited siblings. Or, maybe the invited guest's cousin is tagging along or your child's best friend brings a neighbor's child who spent the night and who hasn't yet been picked up. What should you do?

Answer: Most of us plan carefully and budget accordingly for our child's special occasion parties.

So after the invitations with guest names clearly marked on the envelope have been distributed, attendee count has been submitted (if at a venue), goody bags made, and place settings and party goods purchased, what do you do when extra tots such as siblings, young relatives or even friends, show up?

As unlikely as it may seem, parents bringing uninvited guests to accompany a child who is invited is actually a common occurrence. (Can we say "awkward" for the host parents?) Biting your lip about what you might like to say, hosts should remember that first and foremost, the blatant etiquette breach is not the tag-along children's fault. They don't know any better, and what kid doesn't want to get to do anything fun and celebratory? Misguided parents sometimes bring the invited guest's siblings along because of a younger child throwing a tantrum about wanting to go too or in their belief that it keeps things fair and harmonious in the household.

Sometimes it's even with the guise of an older sibling "looking after" the younger guest to make sure behavior is as it should be. A few parents often try and bring the family so that they can go off during party time and run errands or have lunch out with another adult. But, bottom line, bringing extra kids without asking first is inappropriate and rude.

That said, the question remains: what do you as the host do?

Simply put, you can't turn them away. You can either deal with the extra guests and absorb any extra costs, or if you can't afford it (or don't choose to), you can politely and discreetly talk with the parent. If you choose the latter, you can kindly and even apologetically indicate that the party RSVPs and payment were only for this amount and so it would be such-and-such amount for extra kids. That, in turn, let's the parent decide whether the sibling or friend are worth the extra cost. However, be aware that the parent could come back with "the child will just sit there and not participate." And what party hostess could allow that?

If there is leeway with your total count, plan on making a few extra goody bags (just in case) and find out ahead of time if extra kids can be added last minute. If the party is somewhere where there is absolutely no allowance for any count over what you've indicated, however, you may need to call each family and "confirm" the details with the parents about your child's upcoming party. You can always slip in the conversation something about that you were ever-so-lucky to get this place and that there is an exact count required or you wanted to check in advance of any food allergies so the food/snacks will be just right (or whatever question you can think up).

After all, you don't want extra kids casting a pall on your attitude about your child's party, or worse, causing a guest to be upset or feel badly over the invite list as well. Your objective is to have your child's birthday be fun and memorable, and what's an extra kid or two, even if unexpected?

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