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My wife and I are finally thinking of throwing our first venue birthday party. My son is of pre-K age and has classmates he wants to invite. My wife and I don't know the families or the kids ourselves and I can only rely on my son to tell me who his friends really are.

If I RSVP for a venue, they want me to say how many kids/adults will come, but I don't know. On one hand I want to know ballpark how many kids will show up and, to a larger extent, if it is even worth it to have a venue party but on the other hand I need to reserve in time to have a space. If no one would come to the venue, I would rather host a family/family friend party at home.

How does one handle this balance of reserving early versus figuring out how many might actually show up? Or, to have more objective answers, what can you do when you want to call up a venue to grab a spot?

  • You can send out e-vites early and have people rsvp like a month in advance. Or you can do what we did - invite everyone, rent the whole venue and pay the enormous bill. It was always up in the air for us as far as how many will come, how much pizza to get, etc. But we just wing it and see what happens. Worst case we ended up blowing like $500 on a single party but we planned ahead for that and it worked out fine. – Kai Qing Apr 15 '16 at 21:28
  • For us, it really did not work out as well as we had wanted. The kids who showed up were the kids we knew more closely from other venues. This year, I think we will just send in cupcakes on my son's birthday, which the kindergarten class allows, and celebrate that way. – demongolem Sep 30 '16 at 19:36
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Invites

For pre-K I would advice inviting ALL the kids in his class. My own pre-K boys don't remember all their friends, say the love playing with someone one day, and says they 'never liked him' the next day (and it turns out the kids wanted to use the same toy or similar).

In addition, some of his class mates he is indifferent towards, but when I talk to the parents they tell me their kid talks about my kid all the time. Friendships can be very onesided at this age.

In the end, inviting everyone is a good thing - it also teaches that you cannot exclude kids, which I personally think is cruel. I want our sons to learn that even people they don't get along with are important and should not be excluded.

I find something like evite very useful for gathering RSVPs, but a note with a phone/email is great too.

Venue

As for venue, take a look at some places you are interested in. Many have a range, and a 'party package' is up to a certain amount of kids, usually 20-25. Usually they don't require exact numbers, and you end up paying for the base pack + any possible extras who shows on the day (like $X for up to 20 kids, then $Y per kid) . Usually those places require a deposit.

Some experiences

  • In my experience, between 50 and 75 percent of invited kids show up to.

  • You usually have to reserve venues early, and you also have to notify parents early, people usually have lots of stuff going on.

  • I would say start with figure out how many kids you would invite, remember to count siblings if you think they will show. I find that most kids in the age will usually bring one parent, but sometimes both. Find a venue that can potentially hold most kids & adults, the chances of everyone coming is very low.

  • Ask for RSVPs and use that to figure out size of cake, amount of food/goodiebags etc.

  • Know that some will reply yes and not show, kids get sick, have terrible days and so forth.

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Has your child gone to any other parties of his pre-k class? If so, about what is the turnout to those? That should give you an indication of what the turnout to your kid's party will be. If usually around half the class comes, then 50% is about what you can expect. Of course, reserve somewhere where if every kid invited comes, you have room; but you can and should estimate the turnout and tell them that.

The one time I did a venue birthday party, they wanted to know estimated turnout AND maximum ahead of time, and then about three days before I gave them the official RSVP count. You absolutely should reserve the venue before you send out the invitations - your invitation should say where you're holding the party, and there's nothing worse than a venue running out of space after you've sent invitations.

  • Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, no, he has not been invited to any parties by his classmates. That is something to ponder, but I am got not going to read too much into that since my son does want to celebrate with his classmates. – demongolem Apr 15 '16 at 17:06
  • @demongolem Do you know any of the other parents? Can you ask one of them? (Also could be an opportunity to point out on the side that he hasn't been invited to any yet... though it's possible he lost the invitations, of course) – Joe Apr 15 '16 at 17:07
  • No we don't. This is a public school and it is his home school so I assume most of the families live close enough, but all the communication we have is through the teacher. In this case, we would give the invites to the teacher and then she would distribute them. – demongolem Apr 15 '16 at 17:11

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