Baby Invitation Etiquette
Whether you are planning a baby shower, baptism or child's birthday party, invitations play a key role in establishing the theme and style of your baby's big events. Read on to learn how to send fabulous and flawless invitations for your next special event.
General Invitation Etiquette
Who to Invite
The guest list for any event depends upon the theme, style and character of the occasion itself. A christening, for instance, will have a dramatically different list of invitees than a baby shower. So, reference our list of events below for some specific details, but remember—invite only those who will share in the loving and supportive atmosphere you want to create for your special event.
When to Send Invitations
For a formal party, send invitations six to eight weeks before the event. For a more informal affair, send invitations two to three weeks prior to the celebration to give everyone on your guest list plenty of time to prepare for the festivities.
What to Include in an Invitation
Depending on the occasion, special celebrations typically offer a variety of themes to choose from. The best way to generate verse ideas to accompany your even theme and suit your personal style is to browse through our list of sample verses. Typically, an event invitation includes:
- An opening: Include a short phrase inviting your friends and family to the event.
- A description of occasion: Briefly explain the purpose of the invitation and what the event is about.
Example: A birthday party for Christina Williams
- The name of the host(ess): List the full name(s) of the host(s) or hostess(es) throwing the party.
- The name of the honoree:Include the full name(s) of the person being honored, such as the birthday boy or girl, the mother-to-be.
- The date and time:List the day and date of the party, followed by the time. Avoid using any abbreviations if you are hosting a formal event.
Informal Event: Saturday, September 27th 8:00 p.m.
Formal Event: Saturday, the twenty-seventh of September at eight o'clock in the evening
**Note: It is perfectly acceptable to include an end time on an invitation. If time is an issue for your gathering, you should include an end time to let guests know when the party will be over and/or that they need to arrange pick up times for their children.
- The location: If the party venue has a name (e.g. Crossings Restaurant), include it on the invitation along with the address. In either case, the address should only include the street and city names for local guests. If out-of-town guests are invited, you can include the name of the state, but you should still omit the zip code. You can also include a map or driving directions to ensure that your guests arrive without incident.
- Other instructions: Indicate appropriate attire for costume parties, formal dinners and black tie events if you think there may be any ambiguity. If your party requires additional instruction, including what to bring to a potluck, if a sleeping bag is needed for a slumber party or whether or not guests should bring their own towels to a pool party, print that extra info on the invitation as well.
- RSVP: An abbreviation of the French request, "réspondez s'il vous plait," an RSVP line is a request for guests to indicate whether or not they are attending your event. Include your name, phone number or email address, and an RSVP deadline date. Here are a few standard RSVP lines:
RSVP at your convenience
Kindly reply to
Regrets only (use this phrase to indicate that you only want guests to RSVP if they are NOT attending)
For informal occasions like birthday parties, guests can RSVP via phone or email. For formal events, such as christenings and baptisms, however, send a reply card and self-addressed, stamped envelope to encourage guests to respond quickly. A sample phrase includes:
The favor of a reply is requested before December 1, 2008.
Baby Shower Invitation Etiquette
Who to Invite
Invite the dear friends and family of the mother-to-be, and then ask her to finalize the guest list to ensure that no one accidentally slips through the cracks. If your mom-to-be has had a shower before, you can shorten the guest list by only inviting her closest friends or those who haven't been to a shower for her in the past.
When to Throw a Baby Shower
Host the shower a month or two before the baby's due date. This allows the expectant mother time to register for shower-worthy gifts she still needs before the baby arrives. A similar Welcoming Shower can be thrown a few weeks after the baby's arrival to accommodate special out-of-town relatives who may have been unable to attend the original baby shower.
When to Send Out Invites
Send baby shower invitations two to three weeks prior to the event. If your baby shower includes out-of-town guests, you send invitations a month in advance to ensure that they arrive with plenty of time for guests to prepare.
How to Invite Guests
Invite guests to a baby shower using printed invitations that include important details, including the party theme and any items the guests are expected to bring for the expectant mother.
Baptism and Christening Invitation Etiquette
Christenings and baptisms are formal religious ceremonies that typically include family and close friends from a fairly wide age range.
Who to Invite
Invitations to baptisms and christenings should only be extended to those with close relationships or friendships with the baby's parents.
When to Send Invitations
Send christening and baptism invitations a month before the event to provide guests with ample time to plan their attendance.
Guests might travel long distances to attend your child's christening, so you might want to include a list of local hotels, parking directions and information about public transportation in the invitations for out-of-town attendees.
Children's Birthday Party Invitation Etiquette
Who to Invite
- If your children are old enough to offer their input, compose the guest list with them instead of for them.
- You don't need to invite everyone in your child's class, but teach your children that it is important to be sensitive to those who will not be invited. In this vein, mail invitations to invitee's homes instead of sending them to school with your children to avoid hurting the feelings of anyone not invited.
- You can encourage your the parents of your children's friends to attend the party by stating, "Parents are welcome to stay and enjoy the party" on the invitations. Then, make sure to provide additional refreshments that adults will enjoy.
When to Send
Send invitations two to three weeks in advance for a child's birthday party. For a more formal birthday party, send invitations at least a month in advance.
You can mail or hand deliver your invitations. And, remember—to avoid hurt feelings, do not allow your child to distribute them in class.
If you do not want guests to feel obligated to bring gifts, it is perfectly acceptable to specify that on the invitation with a simple "No gifts please." See our General Etiquette Tips for more.