Situation: a child has a friend (their age); and both of them have slightly younger siblings (who are also same age). The siblings aren't really close friends; but we know each other as families and live nearby.

The child wants to invite their friend to his birthday party.

Is there an established etiquette as far as inviting (or not) a sibling of that friend given the situation outlined above? If the friend's younger sibling is invited, they will be the only other child of that age at the party aside from your own second child.

  • As a side note: I realize that there's a slight advantage to inviting (my child's younger sibling won't feel so lonely in the company of older kids). But I'm asking about the etiquette, not my own advantages/disadvantages.
    – user3143
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 18:30
  • 1
    IMO, the party is about the one celebrating and they can invite (or not) whoever they want. Being unwanted at a party is worse than being uninvited. Just my opinion, so not posting as an answer. Commented May 24, 2014 at 21:20
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    a lot depends on ages. Are you inviting a 3 year old who has an infant sib, or an 11 year old who has a 9 year old sib? (The reason it depends on age is whether or not inviting the child is essentially inviting their parent, too.)
    – Chrys
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 16:36
  • @Chrys - Yes, inviting the parent too. 6 and 8YO
    – user3143
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 17:14
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    8 seems old for inviting the parent as a matter of course. Are you inviting the parent because of your relationship with the parent, or are you inviting all parents of child guests? How many child guests total? Commented May 25, 2014 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


To provide a specific answer to your question: no, there is not an established rule of etiquette for the situation you cite. The goal of etiquette, especially when throwing a party, is to put your guests at ease and allow them to have a good time. In this case, there are a few factors to consider with this specific guest:

  1. Your relationship with the family.
  2. The relationship between the two younger siblings.
  3. Your relationship with the other guests.

Arguments for inviting the sibling include the one you mentioned, so that there will be someone for your younger child to interact with, as well as the potential inconvenience to the primary guest's family of having to deliver their older child to the party and wait with the younger one while the younger is not invited. Especially if this is a single-parent family, which your use of the singular "parent" suggests.

But this could be a slippery slope, since there are perhaps other guests with siblings, where you know the family and the sibling less well (or in the case of schoolmates, whether you know of a sibling's existence). Stretching your hospitality and budget to the point of stress does no favors for your guests. However, if you're friendly with this particular family as a whole, and inviting this one extra guest would both make that family's life easier by keeping them from needing to find some way to entertain/get care for the younger child, as well as making your job as a host easier because you don't have to spend as much effort worrying about or responding to your younger child, I'd say that's a very polite thing to do.

If you discern that the two younger children are not close enough to enjoy being at the party together and/or you know that providing an alternative plan for the younger child presents no hardship to this family, then inviting the younger child and possibly putting them in the position of having to offer one yes and one no RSVP would be an imposition on them.

  • Minor comment: my use of "parent" was a case of random word choice, not deliberate implying that there was only 1 parent in the family :) But it IS indeed a valid possibility I didn't consider, and a good point!
    – user3143
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 5:09

I think the answer is… it depends! If the parents of the older child are coming, then I would definitely invite the younger child. However, if it is a drop off party, I would base the decision simply on whether or not the younger child will be a benefit or burden to the party.

If the younger sibling will play with your younger child, make things more pleasant for your older child and make things easier for you, then go for it, invite the sibling; if not, then don't invite the sibling.

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