Adolescent Attendance: When children are not invited

by epi on January 9, 2013

Q: How does one put on an invitation that children are not allowed to come to the party?

A: It is understood that only those names appearing on the invitation/envelope are those invited to a party. If you fear some of your guests will nonetheless assume that their children are welcome, then you should be sure to request a reply, not a “regrets only” response, so that when they call you can say, “Oh, I am so happy that you and Tom will be able to be here. . .”  Should someone say their children are coming, you should feel comfortable responding that although their child (children) is/are adorable and you would love to include him/her/them, space just doesn’t permit and to make an exception for one family and not others would only cause hurt feelings, but you hope she and her husband/date/fiance will be able to come even though the children can’t be included. That is pretty direct and clear, without being offensive. You can’t write “no children” on the invitation.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley January 9, 2013 at 11:03 am

While it seems to be common knowledge that only those with their name on the invite are invited, that’s not always the case. We had a couple who wrote only their names on the reply, and then thought they were going to bring their infant anyway – to a wedding no less. It’s really best to call your guests who have children, and make sure there is no confusion.


Vanna Keiler January 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I am in agreement with Ashley. Families or individuals with children may have a whole different perspective of what’s expected and assumed. Always a good idea to make yourself clear, if it matters to you.


Lilli January 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Also, if you think it will be a problem for many of your guests that the kids aren’t invited perhaps arrange for a group babysitter that they can all use. I once babysat for a couple that would host an adults only holiday party and then had me and another girl have a separate kids party in the finished basement. A few parents popped down to check on their kid, but none of the kids were allowed up into the main party. It actually worked really well!


Scarlett January 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm

This is all great advice. I think that in more informal situations, i.e., a pool party, where perhaps the invitation may be more of a “flyer” that is not mailed but maybe distributed at work or simply posted on a club bulletin board, the wording “Adults Only, Please” would be acceptable. I have seen/received (but never sent) invitations worded like this and have never been offended. I’d like to know what others think.


Jody January 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I agree that you should ask for a reply (rather than regrets only) in order to forestall misunderstandings. If you usually get together with most of your guests at family events, I would suggest a line at the bottom of the invitation that this is an adults-only event. It can be worded lightly, such as “We thought it would be fun for the adults to get together for this event.” If you think some guests might bring their children anyway, be prepared to tell them at the door that “oh I’m sorry, but as much as I enjoy being with Susie and Bobby, unfortunately I won’t be able to accommodate children this time.” (and repeat the advice above about not being able to make an exception for one family and not others)


Brockwest January 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Although traditionally invitations are not supposed to include restrictions or gift requests, in this day of etiquette-challenge, I think it an acceptable concept to put
“adults only” at the bottom. It’s astounding how many feel it’s ok to have a crying child at a wedding, or New Year’s Eve party, or how it’s fine that their 3-year-old is toppling the dessert display.


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