What is the most important part of any celebration? Nope, it's not the food. And it's not the decorations...
It's the people you choose to celebrate with!
A guest list is a tricky thing. Invite too many people and you end up with chaos or worrying about if that many people will fit in your home or trying to find a bigger venue. Invite too few people and the party is a dud. As I mentioned yesterday, I think you can usually count on getting only half the people invited to actually show up at the party, if that. Schedules conflict, etc. So I do believe in beefing up the party list a little bit to compensate.
My biggest pet peeve, however, is inviting too many people for the occasion. In particular, this applies to children's parties. It only takes 4-6 children running around to make anything feel like a party. :) And the younger the children are, the harder they are to supervise and the fewer I think you should invite. I try to cap the guest list at about 12 kids total. This means that I DO NOT invite my child's entire school class or all of the children in the neighborhood to the party (unless I know most won't show up lol). I know some schools encourage that and I think it's crazy. While my child may like most of the kids in her class, she will only gravitate to a few of them and that's ok. I don't mean to encourage you to be rude, but please don't let the thought of possible hurt feelings lead you to inviting someone that doesn't mean a whole lot to you or your guest of honor.
One way to make sure I stick with my rule is by dividing up my child's birthday into 2 parts. I have the kids' party with all the decorations and the games and fun invitations, etc. And I have the family party where the focus is only on cake and ice cream and letting the grandparents have tons of one on one time with the birthday girl/boy. This may sound like a lot of work, but in reality it works out so much better. It allows me to focus on the kids and the activities during the first party, then I can relax and enjoy my time with the family later. To make it even easier I schedule them both back to back so I only have to decorate and clean the house once :) I plan the kids' party for sometime during the day or directly after school. Then I allow a short break for dinner and a quick straightening up before the family arrives.
*This year, we are not doing a family party at all since we now live out of state and there is no family nearby to invite.
The opposite, however, applies to parties with adults. The more you invite, the better chance you will have of getting a good turn out. It's even harder to get adults to parties than it is to get children there. Busy, busy, busy lives we all lead! And with adults, the only real consideration when planning parties is available space and plenty of food. No supervision worries (well unless uncle So and So gets really really drunk and breaks the coffee table or something!), no having to try too hard to keep everyone entertained and happy. So invite a house full and enjoy the fun!
Any additional thoughts? Please share! Tomorrow I'll start showing you some of the crafty stuff...