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Balancing The Family Numbers

I’m concerned that a potential upset may overshadow the joy of an upcoming occasion, but also wondering if I’m overthinking it.

My son is turning 1 (first child), and we are holding a small family-only “party” for his birthday, but where we draw the line at family-only is the issue. Husband’s family is very small, mine is very large.

With husband’s family being so small, 90% of family gatherings on his side include his only aunt and uncle.

Because our son is so young and won’t really grasp the concept of a party in the first place, and he’s neither used to nor fond of large crowds, we intend to have a small party which includes only his direct Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins – that’s still 12 people as it is.

However, that would leave out Husband’s only aunt & uncle who usually come to family gatherings held by husband’s side (they’d be great-aunt/uncle to my son, and therefore miss the cut on the invite list). We’ve only had both sides of our families together twice, our wedding, and one massive Christmas which didn’t work out too well for varying reasons.

I’m pretty sure that great-aunt will be upset if we don’t invite her, but equally we have to draw the line somewhere, and I feel that inviting husband’s aunt & uncle but none of my own doesn’t seem right either.

What do you think? Should I just invite them for sake of avoiding upsetting great-aunt, or stick to my guns and simply explain we drew the line at “great-anything” since he’s so young? 0313-16

1.  Don’t get caught up into believing that a party is a must-have milestone in the life of an infant and toddler.   You are setting yourself up for your child and the families to have an expectation of you hosting a party for every birthday.   A cupcake after dinner is plenty of birthday drama for a 1-year old.

2.  Your math is confusing. If I speculatively calculated this correctly,  your family outnumbers your husband’s by about 3 to 1 so when you create a cut off that excludes a specific generation, you will automatically decrease the already small number of husband’s family while your side really loses nothing.   It appears to me that even if you did invite the grandaunt and uncle, this would still not increase your husband’s family number enough to equal the number of people from your side.   Frankly, it makes you look petty and ungenerous.

3.  What does your husband have to say about this?

4.   I could go on at length of the foolishness of knowing ahead of time that an action will upset a family member.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Louise March 17, 2016, 11:06 am

    I agree with Admin – it seems very weird to me. What if someone asks where all of your Husband’s family are? Say that he had an aunt and uncle who would have loved to come but you didn’t invite because YOUR family is too big?

  • NostalgicGal March 17, 2016, 11:24 am

    Invite grandparents only, or nobody at all. One year doesn’t have to be a massive party at all.
    Maybe wait until good summer weather, have an outdoor BBQ in the backyard, and invite then for a family gathering and add another cake for the birthday kid. Then nobody has to be excluded and the party can also be a family gathering. A child that small isn’t going to remember the birthday.

  • Maribel March 17, 2016, 11:25 am

    Since your Husband’s family is so small, you should consider that in this case the Great Aunt & Great Uncle would be there representing the other members of your husbands family that are either deceased or live too far away but would have normally been included. But I agree, the 1 yr old doesn’t care, he’s too young. Just give him a piece of cake he can eat on his own and a present or two.

  • HelenB March 17, 2016, 11:29 am

    I’ve always wondered why, in english, we say grandmother, but great-aunt. Seems like it should be grand-aunt.

    My husband’s grandmother died young, and her sister basically took over being mother to his mother, and grandmother to him. I would not have imagined not inviting her to family gatherings.

    If the OP’s husband only has his aunt and uncle left, then I’d put them into a “grandparent” category and invite them accordingly.

    • Lila March 17, 2016, 12:47 pm

      Agree–anyone with questions or objections can be told “they are Husband’s closest relatives.” End of explanation that probably won’t be needed anyway.

    • Karen L March 17, 2016, 8:44 pm

      I agree with the great-aunt vs grand-aunt thing, especially since I am one and don’t want to be charged with the extra generation! I prefer to say “aunt-once-removed” because that confuses people, and they don’t try to figure out my generation. But I have a friend who loves to be “great aunt” because she takes it in the sense of “terrific aunt”.

      • NostalgicGal March 18, 2016, 8:45 pm

        I’m a great-aunt several times over and don’t mind that at all, either being one or the title. Several of the nieces and nephews are within a few years of me. So being a ‘great’ is an honor. 🙂 And some of those are about to make me great-great. Love it.

  • Denise March 17, 2016, 11:45 am

    We throw big parties every year for each of our children. I enjoy them. It’s fun to plan, fun to execute and fun to spend time with family and friends. I consider each year a reason to celebrate and since it’s my time and money, I consider it my business and my decision. Parties are great learning experiences for children and I no way find them to be more entitled, spoiled of “bratty” as a result.

    I understand wanting to have a small celebration. I do not understand determine guest lists by official family titles.

    If great aunt and great uncle are normally invited to husbands family gatherings and puts forth effort to be an active part of the family, they should be included as close family.

    Your guest list shouldn’t be a tit for tat. If a great aunt on your side isn’t as close as on your husbands side, they shouldn’t be lumped together based on their location on a family tree. It isn’t a matter of evening guests out from each side of the family, it’s about including those that have put forth effort to be a part of your sons life. That may mean that an uncle isn’t invited but a close family friend is.

    • Shoegal March 17, 2016, 1:00 pm

      Totally agree that guest list shouldn’t be tit for tat!! If great aunt and uncle make an effort to be apart of your son’s life – they should be included as part of husband’s close family.

    • DGS March 17, 2016, 1:25 pm


    • Ally March 17, 2016, 2:48 pm

      A very wise comment.

      OP, invite the great aunt and uncle, and if anyone from your side of the family says anything, the proper response is “We had a small party, but look forward to seeing you at the next holiday/birthday/gathering etc..” I see many parallels between this party and a small wedding, and the excuse + bean dip work for both occasions.

      Hopefully you won’t have any relatives who actually come right out and ask, why so-and-so got to come but they didn’t, as that would be both rude and childish.

  • Lerah99 March 17, 2016, 11:57 am

    The OP wrote:
    “Because our son is so young and won’t really grasp the concept of a party in the first place, and he’s neither used to nor fond of large crowds, we intend to have a small party which includes only his direct Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins – that’s still 12 people as it is.”

    Even if the OP is including herself and her husband in the 12, it sounds like 2 of the family will be her husband’s parents and the other 8 will be the OP’s relatives.

    So it’s a small party with 8 of the OP’s family members but only 2 of her husband’s because that’s the “fair” way to do it?

    It seem that having 14 people vs 12 people wouldn’t be that big a deal.
    And telling her own aunts and uncles “It was a small affair. Only 8 members from my side and 4 from my husband’s” should be sufficient to put a kibosh on any huffing from her own side of the family.

    Invite the husband’s aunt and uncle.

  • PJ March 17, 2016, 12:18 pm

    If you want to follow strict rules and have even numbers, then maybe just invite grandparents and draw the line there.

    Sure, that leaves out people on your side that are otherwise at family gatherings, but now they don’t make the cut, just like your husband’s aunt and uncle.

    On the other hand, if you want, you can base your invitations on the ‘normal gathering’ crowd for each side of the family, which will include the aunt and uncle who have always made an effort to maintain a relationship with your husband and be a part of your lives, and will probably continue to do so. If I were writing the rules for the gathering, as it seems you are, why not write them so that these people won’t be excluded? Why not acknowledge that sometimes smaller families end up being extra-close to certain relatives because they’re often functioning like extra siblings or aunts/uncles that larger families automatically have?

    For my first son’s 1st birthday, DH’s parents, in-town siblings (& households) were invited, which was 9 people. Likewise for my family, which was 3 people. In addition to that, another family of five who have been close friends to me for my entire life were invited, because, frankly, they were closer to us than much of my husband’s family. My mother-in-law was not pleased because she had some rules of fairness in her mind that were violated by that invitation. She didn’t hesitate to express her thoughts frequently at the party. The party gradually drifted into two different rooms, and guess who I preferred to sit with?

  • Paula March 17, 2016, 12:23 pm

    My husband and I both have pretty large families. I have two siblings who are married with families, and my husband has two brothers who are also married with families. He also has one cousin he is close with. We both have numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. When we have a “smallish” family party, we choose to invite our immediate family. It always includes our parents, siblings, and his cousin’s family. These are the people we are closest with, so that’s who we invite.

  • Becca March 17, 2016, 12:41 pm

    I don’t like the idea of inviting people on their family “title”, that seems really uncaring and like you don’t respect the big part these two play in the life of your husband and hopefully your child.

    Invite the closest ones to you, if they are always included in the family gatherings, big and small, they should be invited here. They’re two seemingly well mannered adults, they don’t create a hassle. Who is going to look at this celebration and think “Oh I wasn’t invited BUT! Hubby’s Aunt and Uncle were!!! That makes it so offensive!” However Auntie will be upset being left out because she’s an active part of the family? It just doesn’t make sense to stress out like that over it.

    I have a feeling some of your large family isn’t sitting around wondering where their invitation to the first year birthday party is. My best friend’s youngest spent his first year on family vacation last year, so nothing but the limited family that’s was on the trip. The other kids have birthday gifts and parties when it’s doable but in no way are they so strictly structured.

  • Jez March 17, 2016, 12:43 pm

    My goodness do you really think any family members, with the possible exception of the childs grandparents, are going to care about coming to your childs first, second or even any birthday party? The child is not going to care when they are so young anyway and he will probably be more upset then anything. Sorry if this sounds a little harsh but its only an important event for your little family, not so much for everyone else. Save the parties for when the child is old enough to have a couple of friends there and then make it a childs party not an adults excuse for a get together.
    I have an idea…save yourself some headaches…think about who in either family actually knows your sons birth date without the invitation telling them he’s turning one. Most will not, thats okay they’re not expected to, so they also won’t care if they are invited or not. Hint…the grandparents will know. So just keep it very small and just invite them to have a cupcake and a visit and enjoy it!

    • K March 18, 2016, 8:39 am

      “My goodness do you really think any family members, with the possible exception of the childs grandparents, are going to care about coming to your childs first, second or even any birthday party?”

      Speak for yourself. Many family members love going to children’s birthdays, why on earth would they not?

    • Aletheia March 20, 2016, 12:56 am

      Re: “who in either family actually knows your sons birth date without the invitation telling them he’s turning one.”

      Geeze… if my family followed that rule, I’d have been excluded from my mom’s and sisters’ birthday parties for all but the past five years, let alone anyone else’s (family or otherwise). Some people are just horrible at remembering specific dates. :/

      • Aletheia March 20, 2016, 12:59 am

        (A bit of clarification for my situation, heh: I knew the general time of the year the birthdays happened so I could pre-plan for gifts and all, and would write the dates down in my planners when someone confirmed it. And there was always plenty of confirmation towards the time the birthdays actually happened, but if someone asked me on the fly what the date of someone’s birthday was, I wouldn’t have remembered it. So… yeah.

        I still have *no* idea when most of my extended family’s birthdays are, though… :/ )

  • Dee March 17, 2016, 1:01 pm

    OP, you should absolutely draw a hard and fast line for this gratuitous event. You should make it clear to Great Aunt and Uncle that it’s not personal but that they did not make the generational cut. Everybody has a line they draw in the sand, some people are flexible about it and others are not. Maybe Great Aunt and Uncle are inflexible, too, and will see the truth – that your child is only a Great Nephew, not someone they want to feel close to simply because their nephew is the donor. After all, it’s a whole ‘nother generation separating them from your son.

    These types of hard lines are also useful when drafting wills and parsing out gifts at Christmas time. After all, why would anyone consider an adopted/step child or a close family friend to be a recipient alongside others who, by birth, are considerably closer to the giver’s DNA? If you feel there has to be a clear and concise delineation then you should make that clear, OP. Don’t waffle. Burn your bridges now. Great Aunt and Uncle need to know before they invest any more into this distant relationship.

    • Agania March 17, 2016, 5:59 pm

      Seriously????? Relationships are more important than position on the family tree. Like another poster said above, my hubby’s nana died when he was young so her sister stepped in and became his surrogate grandma. Our wedding was small and we didn’t invite all the cousins but you can bet that his great aunt/grandma was invited. Also, we aren’t talking about wills here, it’s a kids birthday party.

      OP if hubby’s aunt and uncle are his few remaining relatives and they usually get invited to family gatherings, then invite them to this one. Ignore silly Dee, don’t burn any bridges. Cultivate the relationship with hubby’s aunt and uncle. Distant or otherwise.

      • crella March 18, 2016, 4:32 am

        I think Dee was being sarcastic.

      • Lex March 18, 2016, 6:22 am

        Agreed – the relationship with a family member should trump where they sit on the tree. It’s ridiculous to do it the other way.

      • Angela S March 18, 2016, 8:49 am

        I am an adopted child and don’t feel hurt. Dee was being sarcastic. OP I feel that you should invite the great aunt and uncle. If you can’t afford to invite more than 12 people due to finances then you and your spouse should each invite 6. Then if someone on your side of the family feels left out you can simply state’ Due to finances/child’s age we had to keep the party small. Spouse and I were each able to invite 6 people from our family. ‘ Then’ beandip ‘ which means changing the subject with some type of small talk.

      • Angela March 18, 2016, 11:08 am

        Yeah that was clearly sarcasm.

    • starstruck March 17, 2016, 9:39 pm

      With all due respect I find your assememt a little harsh. And I’m a little confused . When u said, ” why would anyone consider an adopted child to be the recipient of Christmas gifts alongside others who share the givers DNA? “Are u saying you would not give presents to adoptive children simply because they are adopted? Does this include ur own children? Please clarify , because when I read that I was horrified!! And why would u tell the op to burn bridges with her husband’s aunt and uncle? They are his only family. And an aunt and uncle not distant relatives.

      • starstruck March 17, 2016, 10:29 pm

        The op clarified they are not his only family. But still. They are not distant relatives

      • Dee March 17, 2016, 10:42 pm

        Well, I wrote most of it sarcastically. I thought that was obvious. The only part that wasn’t sarcastic is when I suggested that Great Aunt and Uncle could use the same logic as OP and invest in some other relationship, one where they are not treated as poorly as the OP is considering doing. Other than that, what I wrote is essentially what OP is considering; she feels that she should treat people according to their titles and status in the family, instead of how close they are or want to be to her family. It’s the same logic that people use when treating step or adopted children differently than biological children. That’s why I included that.

        It’s clear, to me, that OP is simply looking for an excuse and some support to exclude Great Aunt and Uncle, since it would be so ridiculously easy to invite them that to not do so requires some gymnastics.

        • starstruck March 18, 2016, 6:02 am

          Ha! Well thank goodness. Glad to know u weren’t serious. I have a sister in law who really believes stuff like that so I didn’t get the sarcasm lol

        • stacey March 18, 2016, 10:18 am

          It was obvious that your post was sarcastic- and an apt response to the kind of bean-counting that would drive a mentality similar to what OP displayed in her post.

      • Kristen Nicole March 18, 2016, 12:24 am

        I’m pretty sure that comment was satire

      • Sarah P March 18, 2016, 3:07 am

        I think it was all supposed to be tongue in cheek/ironic. Not terribly helpful as people generally post their real feelings here!

      • Mo March 18, 2016, 3:31 am

        Dee is being sarcastic. Dee considers the OP to be on the verge of breaking up a family based on titles not on the closeness to her family unit so s/he is telling her what will inevitable result if she continues on this road. Well played Dee.

      • AS March 18, 2016, 3:52 am

        The thing about adopted children did strike me as odd as well. That is, in fact, cruel!

      • Eva March 18, 2016, 4:08 am

        Actually that sounds pretty sarcastic to me and more like “Do you REALLY want to give that impression”. Admittedly text does not really lend itself to sarcasm.

      • Jo March 18, 2016, 4:20 am

        I believe Dee is being funny and sarcastic not serious!

      • Anonymous March 18, 2016, 10:01 am

        You guys, I think Dee was being sarcastic. Anyway, my advice would be to just not have a formal “birthday party” for a child turning one year old. It’s a really memorable event for the parents, but a birthday party with twelve people is going to feel like a crowd to the child, and the OP said herself that he doesn’t like crowds. One of the basic tenets of party planning is to plan the party that the guest of honour will enjoy, and I think that that goes even when the guest of honour isn’t old enough to articulate a preference. Actually, scratch that–if the OP and her husband do a big family party, their son WILL articulate his preference; possibly by having a meltdown at his own birthday party, and nobody wants that. So, I agree with Jeanne–birthday cake with dinner, take some pictures, and then invite the whole extended family for a “just because” party or barbecue during the summer. They can visit the baby, but since he won’t be the focal point, he can be put to bed, or in a play pen in a quiet room, when he’s had enough.

    • David March 17, 2016, 10:31 pm

      That was probably the best satiric take down of arbitrary lines I have ever read.

      OP, you should be thinking less about arbitrary lines and more on how close people are to you and you husband.

    • Muffy March 17, 2016, 11:38 pm

      I think this is sarcasm, at least I hope so.

    • Lara March 18, 2016, 12:14 am

      Pretty sure this is intended as sarcasm.

    • Lenore March 18, 2016, 1:21 am

      I do believe Dee is being highly sarcastic…

    • LadyV March 18, 2016, 1:55 am

      Dee, apparently some people don’t recognize sarcasm when they see it. I for one totally get what you meant.

    • Anne March 18, 2016, 5:08 am

      LOL. I see where you’re going and I like it! Sarcasm to fill a chasm.

  • Willynilly March 17, 2016, 1:02 pm

    I disagree with the Admin’s first point. A first birthday party is for the child’s parents as much if not moreso than the child, and sets up no expectation for future parties or invites… at least in my experiences.

    But the rest I think are reasonable points.

    Why not instead of making the cut at title, make it at numbers? As in a max of 6 or 8 or whatever from each side of the family? Limiting the number of guests you can comfortably host is a pretty standard and reasonable method of creating and culling a guest list, and would allow for your husband’s relatives to attend without insulting your own extended family.

  • Princess Buttercup March 17, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Aunts, uncles and cousins to a one year olds party?..
    If you want small, then just go grandparents. If you want all the family then invite all the family, no matter what their official title is.

    Reminds me of a recent 1st birthday I attended. The mom, mom’s parents and mom’s brother all live together with the baby. So of course they were all in attendance. Then the other grandmother was invited. And my husband and I were invited because I babysit and am close with the mom’s immediate family. Then the mom’s other best friend was invited, and her mom and younger sister. And a friend of the grandparents that the mom doesn’t really like. And an aunt of the mom (great aunt to baby) and her four or so kids. Now it’s a huge loud mess where half the people don’t even really get a chance to see the baby because there is so many people. The baby doesn’t care one bit and most of the guests weren’t in any pictures taken so in a few years most won’t even remember who was actually there.

    • Tracy W March 17, 2016, 10:20 pm

      Funny how people are accustomed to different things. I counted on my fingers, only got to 16, and thought wow, that’s small for a party.

      Anyway, call me crazy but I don’t throw or go to parties for the sake of the pictures or memorising the guest list. If I come away with some happy memories that’s plenty for me.

  • Wild Irish Rose March 17, 2016, 1:16 pm

    I’ve never thought a birthday party for a small child was a great idea. A one-year-old isn’t going to know or care who is or isn’t there, and having a lot of strangers around can be overwhelming to a little one. I vote you have a tiny celebration, just you and your husband and your child. Give him a cupcake with plenty of icing for smearing on his face for pictures, wrap up some of the toys he hasn’t seen in a while and let him rip them open and be surprised by “new” toys, and be done with it. We did this with both our children, and guess what? It cost next to nothing, we didn’t have to concern ourselves with other people’s feelings which reduced stress to zero, and the kids don’t remember any of it. Had we had a big bash with lots of people and “stuff,” they wouldn’t have remembered that either. My kids didn’t start having actual birthday parties until they were in school and could invite who THEY wanted to invite.

  • daphne March 17, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Just speaking from personal experience, I’ve yet to meet an adult who enjoys wasting a weekend afternoon at a toddler’s birthday party. So I wouldn’t worry too much about offending anyone, they probably won’t even notice.

    • Ernie March 17, 2016, 6:52 pm

      I kind of had the same thought. I wouldn’t be too crushed if I didn’t recieve an invite to a first birthday party for the children of some of my relatives. Frankly, if it felt like an obligatory invite, I might find a reason I was busy that day.

      People are different of course, but the OP is counting heads as though she is going to get a 100% yes rate on her invites, and based on my experience, that seems at least a little unlikely. If I were her, I’d probably start with invitations to family members that have expressed an interest in coming.

      • daphne March 19, 2016, 3:13 pm

        Exactly. As Dr. Phil likes to say “you wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you realized how seldom they did”. The OP seems to think there is an extreme interest in her child that likely isn’t there.

    • Becca March 18, 2016, 10:06 am

      I find it odd that folks find a gathering of friends and family a “waste” of a weekend. If you’re not close to someone and it’s a present grab invitation, just don’t go. If I’m close to a family and they have a celebration in honor of their child, I’m going because I want to hangout with them. I don’t know what’s wasteful about a couple hours where there’s cake and conversation.

      • riversong March 18, 2016, 2:50 pm

        THIS. I can understand not being a party person. I can understand not wanting to go to a child’s party. What I can’t understand is the disgust people have about people they don’t know throwing parties for their children. I adore throwing my kids’ parties and invite everyone who I know loves them. Those people are free to come or decline. An invitation is not a summons.

        • daphne March 19, 2016, 3:10 pm

          Who said anything about “disgust”? And of course an invitation is not a summons, the point is, not being invited to a 1 year old’s b-day party is likely not the snub the OP thinks it is.

      • daphne March 19, 2016, 3:06 pm

        You may find it “odd”, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the truth.

  • CJ March 17, 2016, 1:34 pm

    Why not just invite six people at each partners discretion for a total of 12? If he only has three relatives then he gets to pick some friends or family from your side. It seems like an easy fix and the Op is looking for ways to exclude his family. As stated he has a small one it should be easy to include them.

    • Anonymous March 17, 2016, 4:57 pm

      That’s what I was thinking — just invite 2 people each. Done.

  • Rebecca March 17, 2016, 2:05 pm

    I don’t understand why the decision on which parts of the family to invite are based on exact relationship (ie grandparents, but no aunts, or cousins, but no cousins children, etc.). Why not just invite the closest people on the OP’s side, and the closest people on her husband’s side. If that means husband’s and and uncle, but OP’s parents and one favourite cousin, for example, then fine. If your limit is, say, 8 guests, then let husband pick 4, and you pick 4. And make it low key “Oh, we’re just cutting a cake and can’t have too many people” so that people don’t wonder why they weren’t invited.

  • rachel March 17, 2016, 2:11 pm

    Okay, I think we can all agree that OP seems a bit ungenerous to deny her husband’s (seemingly) only relatives to a party that’s – let’s be real – not about the kid at all. But I question her math as well. She says her family is HUGE. But limiting it only to immediate grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is only 12 people? I have a medium-sized family and that number is 20 people for me, not including the husbands and wives of my parents’ siblings.

    What I’m getting at is that OP is either grossly overestimating how big her family is or intending to injury her husband’s family. Either way, they need to get over themselves. Let the sweet great-aunt and -uncle come to your stupid party. Good grief.

    • Willynilly March 17, 2016, 5:10 pm

      I agree on family size 🙂
      Heck, due to divorce and remarrage my kids have 7 grandparents (4 on one side, 3 on the other). Before spouses 5 aunts & uncles (with spouses 9). Add in my kids’ first cousins, thats another 3. So 19 guests sticking with only the closest… and I never really thought we had a large extended family.

    • Ulla March 18, 2016, 2:58 am

      I wonder if OP meant with aunts/uncles and cousins OP’s own siblings and their children. Who are the aunts/uncles of the baby. It would make sense as she talks about grandparents, which likely are the baby’s grandparents invited, not OP’s own. And that made me assume also that OP is already cutting her own aunts and uncles from the list. Given how families used to be bigger, there is very good possibility that the amount of _OP’s aunts and uncles_ is far too great to invite to the celebration of 1 year old.

      So, if you are mainly inviting your and hubby’s parents and siblings (which basically are immediate family), inviting quite much further down from the family tree might raise some eyebrows. But, I doubt OP’s aunts and uncles would mind, if they say they had to limit numbers from both families.

      As a final note, I think your comment about OP’s party being stupid is rather rude and totally unnecessary. It’s perfectly valid question to ask help here to get insight and outside ideas to which of the ways would likely bring less hurt feelings: Drawing strict limit based on the family lines, which in this case would exclude one couple who is usually present in celebrations. Or to invite certain relations from one side, but not from the other.

    • AS March 18, 2016, 3:49 am

      I think by aunts and uncles, she means her own siblings – aunts and uncles of the child. Cousins mean her nieces and nephews. Her husband is probably an only-child, or his sibling(s) are estranged or deceased.

      It is confusing though.

  • Michelle March 17, 2016, 3:03 pm

    Since your husband does not have any siblings or cousins and only 1 aunt and uncle, I would include them or invite grandparents only. First birthday parties are really for the parents anyway, as a one year old doesn’t remember and doesn’t care. They have no idea that it’s their birthday no matter how many times people say “happy birthday little one” to the them.

    Does your husband have any strong feelings either way about inviting his aunt and uncle?

  • Margo March 17, 2016, 3:34 pm

    I agree with the previous commenters. Invite the aunt and uncle. They are your husband’s close relations, regardless of their exact biological relationship to your child.

    If you feel that 14 guests rather than 12 will make things too crowded, then agree that you will each invite 6 people. If your husband only wants to invite 4 members of his family, then he can invite 2 from your side. Or you could agree that he will invite 4 and you will invite 8.

    If numbers are a problem then make the event smaller and just ask the 4 grandparents.

  • JD March 17, 2016, 3:43 pm

    I have to go with the majority; either invite the great-aunt and great-uncle along with the select few others, or cut out the party and keep it just to your husband, child and yourself, if a big fat entire family party is not possible.
    As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a lot younger than his siblings, so, as an uncle, he grew up playing with his nieces and nephews because they were all quite close to him in age. He’s been included in a lot of things in their lives, because he’s more like a first cousin or even a brother to them. The fact that he is actually only their uncle doesn’t matter. Titles don’t matter. Love does.

  • Cecelia March 17, 2016, 3:51 pm

    OP you sound like a really selfish person. You want to invite 12 people from YOUR family but you begrudge your HUSBAND 2 people. Keep excluding his only aunt and uncle and his small family will get even smaller.

    Your son is not going to remember this party, the people who attended, what he got, how the cake was decorated, nothing. Seems like this is more a party for you, so you only want your family there.

    • Ulla March 18, 2016, 7:31 am

      She is not begrudging anything, nor does she sound really selfish. She is trying to balance on between the fact that both actions can (and maybe even will) be hurtful to different people, and she is trying to decide which of the actions would be better. If she would deliberately want to exclude his aunt and uncle, I doubt she would be asking it here.

      To OP: I think it would be better to invite the aunt and uncle from your husband’s side, even if you can’t invite your own aunts and uncles. I do agree with Cecelia on her point that excluding family members will make his family even smaller. And unless you have really unreasonable aunts and uncles (why would you want to invite unreasonable persons, so I assume they are not) I’m quite sure they will understand the differences between your family sizes and that you had to limit to certain numbers from both families. So that you and hubby both will have close people attending.

  • Devin March 17, 2016, 4:00 pm

    I remember growing up the 1st birthday party was kind of a big deal, but more as a family get-together. It was typically a BBQ in the backyard, or maybe at a park pavilion. The cousins would be running around or playing games while the aunts, uncles, and grandparents socialized. This was almost always 30+ people and I didn’t have a huge family.
    This is your new family, you can make the rules. Most family have sub-sets that are closer than other. My brother and I are closer with one cousin because he’s nearest in age and was an only child. Another set of cousins is closer because they all married and had kids earlier, so their immediate family is already 17 people!! If this is Aunt & Uncle would enjoy celebrating your infants birthday with you, invite them. If the thought of hosting a dozen people is too much, then limit it to just mom, dad and grandparents.

  • Green123 March 17, 2016, 4:15 pm

    He’s one year old. One! He’ll neither understand nor remember a party thrown in his honour, and is certainly too young to have a concept of or fondness for or against crowds. Why not have a larger family gathering at a later date when it’s summer and you can have a BBQ or something less formal that will be enjoyable for everyone.

    Or are you having a birthday party to solicit gifts?

    • Kay March 21, 2016, 1:24 am

      The party for a 1 year old is absolutely for the adults

  • shhh its me March 17, 2016, 4:25 pm

    I’ve seen lots of people do the bigger 1st Bday and then stop with the big parties , so I personally don’t think that is an issue.

    AS far as the family goes. My parents have the same situation. My mom is super close with her siblings and a couple cousins(as in talk a few times a week and see each other frequently). My dad probable couldn’t tell you his cousins names and while he talks with his siblings (my mom talks to them more) there are a lot of them they don’t really do Bdays for nieces and nephews or each other(major events and bdays would mean a party about 2 or 3 times a month) they just do major events. So if you’re aunts and uncles don’t come to bdays , that’s fine. If your husband aunt and uncle do thats fine too , you can invite based on the previous norm without excluding your aunts and uncles.

  • Billia March 17, 2016, 4:47 pm

    I don’t see why admin feels the need to advise against having a first birthday Party. That isn’t what Op was asking about and certainly isn’t an etiquette faux pas. Having a first birthday is in many ways a celebration for the parents and it doesn’t mean they are required to host a party every year.

  • Cat March 17, 2016, 5:04 pm

    I don’t care for family birthday parties for children. When the child is old enough to have friends, invite his/her friends over for cake and ice cream. When he/she outgrows children’s parties, invite a few peers over or just have an immediate family dinner, either at home or at a restaurant.
    You can fight out whom to invite to the wedding when the time comes.

    • riversong March 18, 2016, 2:53 pm

      That’s fine for you, but other parents who want to have parties for their kids aren’t rude. Different plans for different families. And as the mother of school-aged boys, I’d much rather go to the party of the child of a family friend or one of my nieces or nephews than take my kids to their friend’s parties and make awkward small talk with strangers!

      • Cat March 18, 2016, 7:55 pm

        I never said they were rude. I said that I liked to party with my friends. Sitting around with a bunch of adult relatives was not my idea of a party for me.
        For example, when I turned twelve, I wanted a sewing machine as I had taken sewing classes. Mother told me I could have one, but my grandmother would pick it out and it would be kept in her room for her use. In other words, we were buying grandmother a new sewing machine for my birthday.
        If the party is for the adults and not for the child, fine. Have the party you want. If it is for the child, let the child choose. That is not rude either.

        • NostalgicGal March 19, 2016, 11:30 am

          Man, that is NOT a gift. I bought my own (used school sewing machine) when I was fifteen because sharing one with my mom wasn’t an option (and hers was broken). I got majorly in trouble for it, but it served me for over 30 years (I wore it out, literally). Similar, I had turned fourteen, I was the family cook by then and dad bought mom a new blender for her birthday, and I said ‘gee thanks, Dad, I need one’. Awkward but very true(and very ehell of me but the filter wasn’t quite matured yet!) He quit buying her house stuff after that. He went out the next day and bought her an outfit she liked…

  • OP March 17, 2016, 5:12 pm

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I kept my original post short to avoid lengthy reading, but I’ve left off what were it appears salient points.

    To answer a few queries:
    The current guest list includes 6 people from Husband’s side, (His parents, his brother & wife, and their 2 kids), and 3 from my side (My mother, and my 2 sisters, my brother can’t come), plus obviously our child and hubby and I make 12.
    The maths expand at great-aunt/uncle level (1 set on his side, about 5 on mine, which goes exponential adding in their children too).
    I’m not at all bothered that there are more of ‘his’ family coming than mine.

    Great Aunt/Uncle have never made an effort to see our son, or indeed my husband. The only reason they know about the party at all is because GA saw an invite on MIL’s fridge door. She is however the type of person to get upset at being slighted, and MIL will likely never hear the end of it.

    We’re well aware that the party is a milestone celebration for us as first-time parents as well as our son himself. It’s a small afternoon tea, with a few decorations, a cake, and maybe a present or two.

    My husband’s thoughts mirror my own in that we’re not sure what to do. If he had a strong opinion either way we’d be going with his decision.

    Now, after reading all the feedback (some of it unnecessarily unkind!), I think we will invite them. I appreciate the points about ‘usual crowds’ and not drawing the line at official titles, which makes complete sense. I think this was one of those situations where we couldn’t see the forest for the trees, as the answer seems so obvious now.

    • starstruck March 17, 2016, 10:26 pm

      Op thanks for clarifying. I was under the impression there would be less of husbands family attending. Still think aunt and uncle should be invited . This may be a great way to get them more involved in your sons life. Good luck!

    • LadyV March 18, 2016, 2:09 am

      OP, this sheds an entirely different light on the situation. The impression that I, and I’m sure many other people as well, got from your original post was that GA and GU were family members that your husband is close to. Since that doesn’t appear to be the case, and since your husband’s family will be well represented, I see no reason for you to invite GA/GU, especially if your main reason is to avoid upsetting GA.

    • Mustard March 18, 2016, 4:48 am

      Your original post did indeed leave out some very important points; it turns things around! Go ahead and have your party without your husband’s great aunt if that is what you want to do. Yet another case of people going into the kitchen and reading stuff that is none of their business! I don’t think inviting them just because your MIL is never going to hear the end of it is a good enough reason. What you do for this birthday party is going to set a precedent for every single family event…. forever. So think it through. Good luck!

    • admin March 18, 2016, 5:09 am

      I really dislike incomplete original submissions that are clarified by follow up comments casting the entire situation in a completely different light.

      • Vandalia March 18, 2016, 8:00 am

        I dislike that too. To be completely honest, sometimes I find myself doubting the second version. Although, to be fair to the original posters, the reason they submitted the issue is because they cannot see the situation clearly and want help. Once they begin receiving responses, they realize they left out what turned out to be important information.

      • Lisa H. March 18, 2016, 10:08 am

        I have to wonder if after reading the negative comments, OP decided to cast her post in a different light.

      • stacey March 18, 2016, 10:22 am

        Quite true, Admin!

      • OP March 18, 2016, 3:25 pm

        Sorry, I truly didn’t forsee the gaps people would pick up on. I had written a lengthy post and then shortened it as I figured it was mostly ‘fluff around the edges’ rather than important info.

        • mark2 March 20, 2016, 11:24 am

          I agree with OP. Submissions needed shortened, as long stories sidetrack the point. Also many posters start speculations and interject their own feelings and stories and you really just want to answer point blank about what OP has said. A story submitted can’t say everything. One idea can be twisted several differentry ways by different posters and with some there’s no winning here.

    • Michelle March 18, 2016, 7:57 am

      This does indeed put the situation in a different light. I read it as your husband did not have any siblings and Great Aunt/Uncle were his only relatives, aside from his parents.

      With the updated info and the fact that GA/GU do not make an effort to see your son or husband, I say do not invite them. If GA throws a fit, tell her you had to keep the party small and if she nags your MIL, then MIL needs to polish up her polite spine and bean dip when GA starts in.

    • David March 18, 2016, 9:00 am

      Your original post gave the impression that these were people who were involved in your husband and child’s lives that you weren’t inviting because of an arbitrary genealogical cutoff.

      That they are people not involved in your lives who only know about the party because they were snooping on a refrigerator is a completely different kettle of fish. In that case, no you do not have to invite them unless you want their company.

    • Margo March 18, 2016, 10:01 am

      OK, the update completely changes the situation. The original post made it appear that your hsuband had a very small family and you had a large one, and that his GA &GU were close to him, if not to you.

      I still think that taking a view that you have to be ‘equal’ (i.e. that if you invite one great-aunt you have to invite them all) is a mistake.

      however, if the realitiy is that they don;t have a close relationship with him or with your child but that they may complain if they are not invited, I’d say you don’t have to invite them. MIL can decidwe how she deals with any complaintsthey make to her, although with the revised information, answering “It was a very small gathering, wider family weren’t invited from either half of the family” would be fine.

      Anyone old enough to be a great aunt or uncle is more than old enough to understnad that not eveyone gets invited to everything.

    • Becca March 18, 2016, 10:03 am

      That’s a HUGE omission that would have changed the comments drastically.

      They’re not part of your husband’s life and very much not part of your sons life, do not invite them to save your MIL the burden of dealing with a grouchy entitled woman like that.

      I think that the idea that you sent out invitations probably makes GA think that it’s a much bigger gathering as well, so that could be why she feels poorly about it as well. Still not your problem, your MIL can tell her that it’s a close family gathering of people.

    • OP March 18, 2016, 3:32 pm

      Further to this, I’ve had a couple of developments overnight:

      1. MIL has told me that GA might ‘just turn up’, and asked what we would do if she did. Well, we’re not about to turf her out, are we. We’ll be gracious about it if she does arrive.

      2. After reading all the feedback and finally deciding to go ahead and invite them… Husband’s opinion has swung in the other direction and decided NOT to invite them, and he’s quite emphatic about it!

      So that’s that. It’s husband’s family so ultimately his call. GA/GU won’t be formally invited, but they might just show up anyway.

      We won’t be having a 2yo party, I’m not dealing with this drama again until he’s old enough to invite his own friends (and then has to ‘pick’ which ones he wants to invite).

  • Amanda H. March 17, 2016, 5:24 pm

    I’m with those who say a 1st birthday party doesn’t have to be a big affair, or even really *require* extended family in attendance.

    When all three of mine turned 1, none of their grandparents were local. For the oldest (winter birthday), we picked three of her friends from playgroup and invited them to a balloon party, where we pretty much just inflated a whole bunch of water balloons (with air) and turned them loose on the floor with the kids. Then we had cake, and then everyone went home. Very simple, very inexpensive, and no stress over which members of each family to invite. The other two (spring and late-summer birthdays), we just invited a few playgroup friends to the apartment complex’s yard and had cake and let the kids run around playing with the yard toys. Again easy, inexpensive, and fun.

  • NostalgicGal March 17, 2016, 5:39 pm

    I’m adding another comment. I have memories that extend back into about my first year, so based on that. I have a picture of my first, I am sitting on my aunt’s table (godmother) and they put a cake next to me. There is a calendar on the wall and a few of my cousins and my aunt visible as well. I’m one. I don’t remember anything of that. Second one I’m standing on a kitchen chair, again at that aunt’s and there is a cake in front of me, with two candles. There are hands in the picture but not on me, so I don’t fall off the chair. Third birthday, I do remember, I was at home and given a few presents, I remember the ‘walking doll’ that was taller than I was, and getting help to get her out of the box and dragging her to my crib/bed. I put arms around her and her legs drug on the floor. FOUR is the one I truly remember, and blowing out the candles and getting teased and wanting my cousin to stop it. I don’t remember any of the gifts. So, your child isn’t probably going to remember their first three; and just have them at home by yourself. Four and up, will make a difference; then you can start having the family parties. (I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s in my younger years, and was used to my cousins as ‘older siblings’, so it wasn’t unusual for my birthdays to have been done with them.)

  • stacey March 17, 2016, 5:45 pm

    It’s never easy to make everything perfectly fair. In the case of the proposed party, the OP said herself that the child isn’t fond of crowds. This type of party is more for the pleasure of the parents than the child and it does set a precedent. It’s wise to make certain that the precedent is sustainable year over year. I’ve seen several young parents in my circle hold blow-outs for the first year, second year, third year parties that rival large showers for complexity and number of guests. It’s great fun. But not really sustainable by most in the long run. Child number two… child number three… (even the firstborn after age 4 or 5… the novelty does wear thin). One also wonders what it teaches children to expect as “normal” when celebrating their birthdays and milestones.

  • Mizz Etiquette March 17, 2016, 6:15 pm

    Wait… We’re talking about 2 people? People that are in baby’s life on a present day basis?

    Why is this even a question? Did I miss something?

  • Startruck March 17, 2016, 6:49 pm

    Please Invite your husbands dear great aunt and uncle . Ignore anyone who has beef with it. Period

  • Tabitha March 18, 2016, 2:37 am

    I find it a bit odd that the most offensive thing about this question, to some people, is that the party is “for” a one year old.
    How does the answer to “should I include hubby’s family” become, “you shouldn’t have a birthday party for a one year old”?
    Lots of parties are for reasons many wouldn’t like, cats funerals, groundhogs day, Easter, something about pancakes on Wednesday morning, a royal wedding…but I say, if the host wants to throw a bash, so be it.
    As for the guest list, it’s probably best to invite the great aunt and uncle.

    • Lerah99 March 18, 2016, 9:37 am

      This makes me think of the meme:
      “How dare you call me mentally unstable, on this, the day of my cat’s quinceanera.”

      (The picture is worth checking out the link and totally work safe.)

      • NostalgicGal March 18, 2016, 9:31 pm

        Oh my, then I spent an hour after I got through laughing to browse through there!

      • yankeegal77 March 19, 2016, 2:25 pm

        You brought me just joy and laughs!!!

  • Marozia March 18, 2016, 5:15 am

    This is a 1 year old’s birthday party, not a who’s who of family ‘to be invited’.
    I say don’t have the party, your child is way too young for all this drama.
    That way, no one will be offended.

  • Anna March 18, 2016, 8:14 am

    I think you’re overthinking this. Family relationships are more than just strict relationship definitions. Because your husband’s family is so small, the aunt and uncle are included because, in the small family, they have a close relationship. So, invite them.

    This is the case in my family. My mom’s side is average sized, whereas my dad’s family is ridiculously small. So much so that the only living relatives of my dad are “distant” cousins (second and third cousins). They live fairly close by, and have been considered family since my dad was a kid. So, they get phone calls and Christmas cards and the occasional invite to a family event.

    On my mom’s side, I don’t even know her second cousins! But that’s because she has siblings and uncles and aunts and nieces, and they take up all the “family” slots in our lives. This is just the way it is and no one has ever thought to be offended by it.

  • K March 18, 2016, 8:37 am

    For goodness’ sake. Invite his aunt and uncle and explain to anyone who whinges that he has a tiny family and you couldn’t invite everyone. It’s not hard. All these knots you’re tying yourself into just sound rather ridiculous/

  • Lisa H. March 18, 2016, 9:58 am

    OP: my head hurts due to how much you are overthinking this. Your relatives outnumber his by quite a bit. Do the right thing and invite them. No one at the party is going to get into a snit about genealogy.

  • Kali March 18, 2016, 12:50 pm

    It seems that the OP is very caught-up in her own self-imposed restrictions. Just invite them. If anyone asks you to explain how the restricted guest list works, explain that you’ve prioritised close relatives, but as husband’s family are so small you were able to include aunt and uncle on his side.

  • theLadybugg March 18, 2016, 6:35 pm

    “You will automatically decrease the already small number of husband’s family while your side really loses nothing.”

    While I get the overall gist of this, I object to the idea that inviting less of the larger family is equivalent to “losing nothing.” I come from a HUGE extended family, seven on my dad’s side and sixteen on my mother’s, and that’s before counting up spouses and children. And we’re all very close. My mother’s side throws a “surprise” 50th birthday party for every sibling, there’s a big family Christmas party every year, the whole clan is invited to sweet 16s and (usually combined) graduation celebrations — even 1st Holy Communions/Confirmations/grade school commencements/etc are open to any relative who can make the trip. When somebody can’t make it, we’re still a large group, but the absence is noticeable.

    I’m sorry but this just ruffles my feathers. I get the same way when people deride large weddings as “needing to invite people you barely know.” Sometimes it’s really stretching to include all the people who are tied for most important to you! I don’t think I should have to exclude any of these wonderful people from special occasions just because my partner doesn’t have the same kind of family as me and can’t be “even.”

    That said, I agree with the admin that a large party for a child’s first birthday is overkill, especially if that child is not comfortable with crowds. Have the grandparents over for lunch and a cupcake, and when naptime comes, party’s done. If you must have a party, keep it to ‘immediate’ family and include your husband’s aunt and uncle — from what you’ve described, they should be considered immediate family regardless of generation.

  • Kate March 19, 2016, 3:40 am

    I think a hard and fast rule doesn’t really take into account actual family dynamics. For example, my fiancé is very close to his brothers, whereas I am not close with my sister but have a cousin who is like a sister/best friend to me. If we were to host a function and say “no cousins allowed”, he’d have the family he is close with whereas I would not. Just invite the family you consider close family regardless of their actual connection on the family tree. Your husband will surely appreciate it.

  • Just4Kicks March 19, 2016, 6:36 am

    All of our kids only had family only birthday parties when they were young.
    Now that they are older, we do the same thing every year on their birthdays.
    The birthday kid gets to pick what they want for dinner (usually their favorite take out), and after dinner, cake and candles.
    It’s always just the kids, and their dad and I.
    If they want to, they are allowed to have a friend to sleep over the following weekend….always with “do not mention its your bday, I don’t want your friend feeling like they have to bring you a gift.”
    So far, so good this has worked well for us.
    Oh, and they get presents from their dad and I, and a “free pass” on chores that day.

    • NostalgicGal March 19, 2016, 11:33 am

      We still have a guilt-free pass here about doing your own dishes and being treated like a sloth (you are absolved of normal chores) on your birthday. Usually you are cooked for-all your favorites-and can goof off all day if you want. I usually abused it to cook exactly what I wanted and someone else did the dishes… (cooking enough for all, but)

    • stacey March 19, 2016, 3:29 pm

      Sounds like fun! And also sustainable! I have a friend who only hosts “big” celebrations for her very artistic daughter every OTHER year. (And daughter does most of the planning and a great deal of the work of cooking and decorating before her friends come to hang out, which fortunately she enjoys!) I guess that my point is that every family can find a routine that works for them and for their particular children.

      • Amanda H. March 20, 2016, 3:47 pm

        “I guess that my point is that every family can find a routine that works for them and for their particular children.”

        This exactly. I don’t do the big lavish parties every year, but we do throw a party for friends for our kids anyway. We find our balance by having immediate-family-only (as in Hubby, self, and kids) stuff on the day of the actual birthday (dinner of the birthday person’s choice, cake, and a gift), then planning the friend party for a week or so later so I don’t have to stress over timing on the actual birthday. The friend party is usually cake or cupcakes (or something else dessert-like that the birthday kid picks out), some simple and inexpensive games to fill about an hour or so’s worth of time, and themed treat bags to thank the guests for coming (and I usually keep it to roughly $5 per bag). We invite no more than five guests to keep the total number of kids manageable, too. No fancy decorating, no having to shell out for a venue or fancy events like a museum or a bouncy castle, just fun at home.

  • Kay March 21, 2016, 1:22 am

    Very petty. There is absolutely no reason to cut out members of husband’s family because YOURS is too large. Trim the fat on your side. Seems incredibly rude and nervy on your end.

  • Yertle Turtle March 21, 2016, 3:45 am

    I am shocked at the way the OP has been treated in these comments. I have seen many similar questions on this site in the past, but never have I seen so much dog piling on imagined selfishness, pettiness and greed for gifts in the responses!
    OP, I hope you will come back to the site another day and find everyone in a more charitable and helpful frame of mind. I say, kudos to you for trying to be considerate of your family members’ feelings.
    Meanwhile, enjoy your little one’s birthday with special people. Ignore anyone who tells you not to celebrate as you wish. Congratulations on getting through these wondrous, but very challenging twelve months. Cheers.

  • Michelle Young March 21, 2016, 5:18 am

    If the Husband’s aunt and uncle are frequently invited to things, you could always play it this way:

    Send “official” invitations to the “approved” level of relations (grandparents, parent’s spouses, what-have-you), and then casually mention the party to Husband’s aunt and uncle, including time and place, and see if they crash the party.

    Normally, of course, gate-crashers are to be met with “I’m sorry, I cannot accommodate your request,” but in this case, you may choose to graciously forgive them and welcome them to the party, on the basis of your son’s familiarity with and friendship with them, and “the more, the merrier.” And if you just happen to be well-prepared for a couple of party crashers, then that just speaks to your skill and graciousness as hosts.