In Life

Don’t Poke the MamaBear: Birthday Party Invitation Etiquette

Posted by: on Jan 23, 2017 | One Comment

Something grizzled this MamaBear last week. From the outside, it might seem small or insignificant in light of all the BIGGER worries of our world these days. However, for this Mama, this small, petty issue felt BIG.

I want to preface this by saying that I never thought I would be this parent. I always thought this was the sort of silly thing I would shrug off and let slide down my back. I suppose that in a way I have done that, but believe me when I say that if not for my daughter not taking notice, I likely wouldn’t be holding back. You’ll have to excuse me if I ramble a bit, but I’m entitled, aren’t I?

Here’s the deal… Last week, I went to pick up my kids from daycare, just like I do every day after work. I went downstairs, picked up my son’s winter gear, and then headed upstairs to the big kid class where everyone plays at the end of the day. While heading to my daughter’s cubby area to grab her things, I noticed that the majority of the girls’ buckets had envelopes taped to the outside. Upon closer inspection, it was VERY obvious that these were birthday party invitations. “To: XXX, From: XXX” was clearly written across the front of each of these envelopes. My daughter’s bucket didn’t have an envelope. I looked around, and counted the number of white envelopes hanging around and took note of those who were included. Suffice it to say that the majority of the girls in the class seemed to have been included (though there’s no accounting for how many parents had already done pick up before me).

Here’s something else– this little girl isn’t someone my daughter talks about often. I know it’s not one of her close friends. In fact, she wasn’t invited to my daughter’s birthday party. However, looking around at my daughter’s close friends’ cubbies- they had all been included… even those who also hadn’t invited this little girl to their parties. My gut sank, praying that my daughter wouldn’t notice. I rushed through getting my kids dressed, silently hoping against hope that I wouldn’t hear, “Mummy, where’s my envelope?”. I was lucky. She didn’t notice.


Now, I have no issue with my daughter being left out from time to time. I don’t need her to be invited to everything. I know that part of my job as a parent is to work through disappointment with her, talk through these things. My kids don’t need participation awards. They don’t need to grow up feeling like they’re entitled to everything everyone else has. That’s not the reason I am so BOTHERED by this experience. No- I am bothered because someone didn’t have the common decency and courtesy to be discreet. Like I said, I didn’t invite every girl in the class- only 5 of the 16 or so were invited. BUT- knowing that the daycare is not allowed to share parents’ emails- I placed our invites secretly in the individual kids’ buckets, with no obviously identifying information on the outside. Those envelopes could have been anything if any other parent saw them. They could have been thank you cards or a message from the teachers. THIS parent decided that she would announce to the rest of the parents that she was excluding our children. She showed up on her daughter’s birthday, brought cupcakes for everyone, brought her easily identifiable birthday invitations, and taped them to the buckets in front of our kids when they could have easily surmised what was happening. THAT is my issue.

I don’t need your kid to love my kid. I don’t need my kid to be everyone’s favourite friend. That’s not how life works. What I don’t need is for you to make a public declaration that my kid is somehow unworthy of your respect. I don’t need to go home wondering why you decided to shame us- questioning if my daughter did something wrong. I don’t need to question why she’s the only one of her friends your kid doesn’t think is cool enough to be included. I don’t need to doubt my daughter and wonder if she maybe did something that hurt your daughter’s feelings. I KNOW she didn’t because I would likely have heard about it by now… right? Because as parents we deal with things like grown ups. Right? Oh wait… that’s right. You made your birthday party invitations a billboard to let us know we aren’t good enough for you.


I would LOVE to hear from all of you on this. Am I overreacting? Am I being ridiculously sensitive? Is there some common etiquette involved with the birthday party invitation? Would YOU stay quiet? Please share!

1 Comment

  1. Gail
    January 24, 2017

    Yes, stay quiet but assist the school in implementing rules for the future.
    Utilize Your loud,growling,protective, mama bear voice to make sure this doesnt happen again. There are a small number of kids who ‘ never’ get invited to anybody’s party, sleepover or playdates….remember that and continue to teach your babies that bullying and usually, ignorance, show up in many forms….parents teach your children well.


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