Birthday party etiquette: Is it ever OK to bring a sibling along to a party?

Posted in Birthday.

What’s the etiquette when it comes to bringing siblings along to the party?

Should you ask beforehand, or just turn up with the extra child. And do you encourage your kid to join in the party and grab their lolly bag on the way out, or do you bring along a separate treat for them and tell them it’s not their party? Knowing how stressful kids parties can be, I’m of the opinion that extra guests should NOT be brought to parties and encouraged to join in. I just don’t think that’s fair to the host, as well as the birthday child. After all, this is their big day and they likely chose their guests carefully.

It turns out that there are a few different opinions on the matter.

Is it okay for siblings to come along?

Organising a kids’ party takes a lot of organisation and usually requires sticking to a budget. From the size of the cake to the prizes you have for pass the parcel to the lolly bags – numbers matter. And if you’ve only catered for a certain amount of kids, is it okay for the siblings of invited guests to join in the fun?

A recent post on the popular Mumsnet forum asked the community for their thoughts on the topic and whether it is ever okay?

“Having a kids birthday party in a few Sundays time and quite a few of the rsvp’s have asked if siblings can come too. Is this a normal thing????? I wasn’t intending on having to cater for extra people! Or am I being really mean…..”

I can feel her pain. Putting a party together is hard enough without having to think about extra guests that you didn’t invite. One or two posters agreed with me, only with a stronger tone:

“Bloody tell them no. Cheeky arses.”


“It’s fine to tell them no. It may mean that some guests can’t attend though.

Be aware that attending siblings will probably pop themselves down at the tea table and expect a party bag too.

That’s why it’s fine to say no.”

Read more about kids’ parties:

It’s no big deal

On the other hand, some posters pointed out that bringing along siblings wasn’t really a big deal, especially if it was a party in a hall and just meant supplying a few extra plates of food.

“It’s normal in both my DC’s class. If it’s an event where you obviously have to pay per child the etiquette seems to be for the parent of the invitee to offer to pay for the sibling (and party host usually refuses). For church hall parties it’s just a few extra butties and crisps and an extra party bag. This is only for whole class parties though. I don’t think it would be done if only a select few had been invited.”

But if it was a pay per head party, like at an indoor play centre, what then?

“If it’s a soft play party or a party at a farm or swimming or something else that isn’t ‘exclusive’ hire then I think it’s ok to ask if siblings can come if they have no other options and they can be separately paid for by the parents.”

“Any party my eldest DC has been to, there has always been a collection of younger siblings there (generally soft play or church halls).
If it was a pay per head I can see an issue, but I don’t think it’s majorly cheeky otherwise.
I’ve asked if I can take a younger sibling to parties before, always told it’s fine (though to be fair they never eat anything there & I certainly wouldn’t expect a party bag)”

Lack of childcare means there’s no choice

Some mums pointed out that often it was a childcare issue, and if a parent was required to stay at the party, then a sibling might just have to attend.

“I had to take the other sibling to parties a fair amount of time, 18mths difference. Dp worked weekends and I have no alternative childcare. I always asked and said that they wouldn’t expect food or a party bag. Siblings also came to ones I held, and I didn’t provide party bags but didn’t begrudge them a crisp or two.”

I think this last mum is onto the right thing – if you have to take sibling along to a party, explain to them that they’re not a guest and shouldn’t expect a lolly bag.

All in all, it seemed as though most people on the forum were of similar opinion, but of course, we all know parents like the ones this lady described:

“I’ve definitely witnessed people just dropping off extra kids when it’s a larger party though. Bit awkward when it comes to place settings/party bags etc. But sadly, only for the host/non-invited child rather than the parent who did it!”


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