Last Minute Invitations: Rude or Just Disorganized?

This week Emma brought home a birthday invitation.  It came home on Wednesday, and the party is on Saturday.  For me, this is very short notice.  I don’t enjoy getting last minute invitations

Last Minute Invitations - Rude, or Just Disorganized?I don’t know about other parents out there, but I am always percolating ideas for my kids birthdays.  And I mean always.  Emma’s next birthday isn’t until September, but I already know we have a wedding to go to on the weekend closest to her birthday (and she and Rose are in the wedding!) and the Fall Fashion Show at the mall is likely to fall around her birthday time.  Rose’s birthday is in less than a month and Patrick and I have already discussed ideas for outside the home parties.  We didn’t make any decisions yet, but we’re on the way to one.

Related: Ways to Invite People on Short Notice (Without too much Work!)


As a parent who wants to stay on the good side of other parents I would never expect kids to show up to a party with less than a week’s notice.  I’ve been in conversation with one school-mom friend about her daughter’s birthday party since before March Break – easily 4 weeks ago.  That young lady’s party is this weekend also, fortunately on Sunday.  But I’ve known about it concretely for two weeks.

The thing that gets me about this family and the late invite is that this is a “destination” party.  Meaning they had to plan it with the party location likely weeks in advance.  Something I didn’t think about was maybe Emma is in the second string of invitees.  This was an idea tossed out when I posted my gripe on my Facebook page earlier this week.  The other thoughtful Moms who follow me there were kind enough to suggest reasons why this family was late with the invite.  I love my readers.

While I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I feel like I know this family.  The young lady whose invitation we received this week gets on the bus with my kids and she’s often late, and will usually miss the bus at least once a week.  If that’s not the product of a disorganized home, I don’t know what is.  So my tendency is to think that they just weren’t ready to get these invites out until too close to the party.  Maybe that’s also because I don’t like to think of my daughter as a “second string friend” even though she’s not even in this girl’s class this year.

Last Minute Invitations

Nothing would give me more pleasure than saying that Emma can’t go.  It’s that sort of passive-aggressive world that I live in.  I’m not one for confrontations.  Sadly, I know a lot of people don’t even pick up on the subtle statements made by not attending parties because the invites went out too late, or even my comment in my RSVP email where I said “Luckily we don’t already have plans for Saturday so Emma should be able to come.”  This stuff goes over most people’s heads.  Especially the people who don’t think there’s anything wrong with sending out invitations 2 days before an event.

Something that would have gone a long way toward reducing my annoyance would have been a statement in the invitation saying something along the lines of “sorry for the short notice” or similar sentiment.  At least it would show that the parents recognize that short notice invites are not the best for busy families.


While we are not perfect parents (or people, for that matter), I’d like to think that when I’m planning things that involve other people I won’t leave it to the last minute.  In fact, I’m about to create an event to let people know about Emma’s First Communion in 3 weeks time.  Which, of course, falls right before Rose’s birthday.  Guess it’s time to sit down and think a little harder about what we’re doing for that and when the invitations will go out.  I would hate to be accused of sending out last minute invitations!


I also have a post on how to invite people at the last minute, if that’s what you’re hoping to learn about.  It has some easy tips to help you populate your party!

If you are looking for birthday party ideas, visit my post Plan A Destination Birthday in Kingston.  Even if you don’t live in my city, you may still get some inspiration for planning your own destination party!

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  1. I am a total control freak so would never send anything last minute… If this were to happen to us the chances are we would be busy, having most weekends filled well in advance. I don’t do spontaneity!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

  2. Oh I’m usually the one who is sending out last minute invites as I am SO unorganised! I did get super organised for the charity event we did this weekend, tickets were on sale months before but then loads of people pull out last minute as they didn’t realise beforehand they would be busy, etc. #BloggerClubUK

    1. I know sometimes it’s hard to be organized, but I don’t like when I’ve planned up a weekend and then an invite comes home that the kid really wants to go to! I mean is a full week’s notice too much to ask? And then, of course, there’s the crazy organized parents who send the invites home 2 or 3 weeks ahead and I promptly lose those ones. I guess I’m just not an easy mom to please! Thanks for the comment Laura!

    1. I don’t even mind being invited “late” but it sucks when we’re already booked with something else to do and I have to tell my kids they can’t go. Makes me look like a bad mom in their eyes (when it’s really the other family’s fault – often)

  3. I’m about to send a late invite and it never even occurred to me other parents would be so judgemental until I read blogs online, specifically this one. You never know what other families have going on. Personally your reaction seems really harsh to me. Why let yourself be so annoyed? Just go or don’t. No need to go yet be all resentful. Likewise, If ppl can’t make it, I’d expect the inviting family not to judge or take offense, given the late invite. Not everyone has life situations that allow them to plan kids bday parties months in advance. Im still trying to figure out why you were so upset, even wanting to shame this family regarding their late notice, when you were still able to make the party… hmm. Seems unnecessary at best. But that’s just me (another ‘unorganized’ mom).

    1. Thanks for your comment Carmen! I wrote this post over 2 years ago, when I was much more anxious mom. Since then I’ve learned to chill out a bit more and just go with life as it happens.

      I’ve actually written a post with ways to help you get a party organized at the last minute (the link is at the end of the post above.) I understand why it happens, but I still get a little pissed off when my kids get all excited because they brought home an invite, only to realize it’s in 2 days and we can’t make it. I hate disappointing my kiddos!

    2. Yes!!!!!! Thank you someone needed to speak up. Just because our days aren’t planned minute by minute, hour by hour, doesn’t mean that our families are dysfunctional or unorganized! It just means that we’re living our lives to the fullest!

      1. I was brought here by Googling what is too short notice to send invites. While I’m extremely busy, I am not unorganized. We have huge classroom sizes and limited dates to pick from for parties, since there are other class parties pretty much every Saturday and Sunday that we were given invites for a month in advance! So our options are 5 days notice or 3 weeks after my childs actual birthday.. people aren’t always disorganized and even if that were the case.. who are you to judge? And why be so snarky in your email? I legitimately would have told you to shove it and then uninvited you. Judgemental cunts like you are the reason mom are so stressed. Fuck right off.

        1. Hi Missy – thanks for sharing your views. While I don’t think the swearing was necessary, I chose to allow your comment. You are absolutely right that lives are busy and we are not necessarily disorganized, just busy. As I’ve said in another reply, this is an older post from my more “stressed out” period, and it gets interesting points of view so I have left it on my blog.

          With a more parenting experience, and having learned my children better, I do not have this view anymore. My girls understand if we can’t make a party and no one has hard feelings or blames me for our busy schedule. We do often schedule parties away from our actual birthdays because that’s what works for our schedule, of the schedules of friends who are important to us.

          I think what is too short notice is different for everyone – I hope Google helped you decide when to send out your invites.

  4. As an introvert, I have to mentally prepare to do things especially those that involve people I don’t know very well. Last minute invitations give me anxiety because I’m not mentally prepared for “stranger danger”. And even as a mom, I don’t enjoy birthday parties. So there’s that. 🤣 My only enjoyment is watching my little have the time of her life.

    If I get a last minute invite that I can’t/don’t want to shift my energy for or previous plans to accommodate, I politely decline as to keep the relationship in tact.

    I’d much rather not go than go and have a resentful attitude about it. I don’t want to destroy the relationship.

    Great article and I love your transparency here.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wrote this article years ago and I am so glad it allows for these open conversations. Over the years I have learned a lot about parenting and being a parent. I am much more open to last-minute gatherings now (though not during this pandemic!) with years of experience under my belt. I think in this “look after yourself” time is it absolutely important to do what is comfortable for you and you family, regardless of what is “seems like” you should do.

  5. Better than your in laws texting you an invite 4 hours before the party. Nothing burns me more!!! And it was on a Thursday!

    1. That’s a tough one for sure Jennifer. I will say sometimes my in-laws forget about us entirely when inviting for a gathering. Then they get mad when we don’t show, or are annoyed that we didn’t know because they think they told us. It’s better now but it used to happen all the time!

  6. Here’s a crazy question. I’m having a brunch and may be getting a couple who cannot make it and not letting me know until the last minute. I thought about asking a separate set of friends who were not initially invited to fill the gap so to speak. I don’t consider them “second string” just cannot invite all the friends we have to everything. Is there a proper way to ask them a day before or would you just skip it?

    Also never allow people to write to you or talk to you in a nasty way! It’s just not necessary.

    1. That’s a great question Michelle. While I don’t consider myself much of an expert in this sort of thing, I think a message that states your honest intention would work fine here. Something along the lines of “I’ve had a cancellation and was wondering if you/your child/invitee would be free tomorrow to do thing.” Be sure to admit you know this is late notice, and, of course you’d understand if they aren’t available.

      For me it’s the intention of the message. Recognizing the short notice goes a long way, in my opinion.

  7. Hey parents. Whether you’re disorganized or busy or stressed, it’s NOT about you! It’s about your child. After sitting down with your child making a dream list of party attendees (assuming you had a number in mind), wouldn’t you try to do a basic series of steps to get a good outcome? How sad it would be if very few kids on the list could show up due to poor planning on your part. I’m not really trying to judge, but that would be the number one thing on my mind and I haven’t seen it mentioned here yet. I would do whatever is in my power to avoid a disappointing birthday. What brought me here? Guilt over having to decline an invitation with less than 24 hours notice and seeing my child mope around over it. Thanks for nothing, other family!

    1. Hi Wendy!
      Thanks for sharing this important point. While we all know things sometimes don’t go the way we planned, planning can be key!
      I’m sorry to hear you had to decline your child’s invite.

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