11/05/2009 14:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Birthday Parties - Do You Have To Invite The Whole Class?

My son's sixth birthday is coming up, and with it the inevitable party. For the last few years, we've had tea parties at home, but this year for a change I've booked the local softplay centre.

So now we're writing invitations, and it's time to address the thorny subject of who to invite. Everybody, or just a small select group?

He has a wide circle of friends at school, and seems to play with different classmates each day. I want to include his friends and don't want anyone to feel left out. At the same time, I think whole class parties can be a bit overwhelming for all concerned.

What to do? What would you do?

Do you really have to invite the whole class to your child's birthday party? Increasingly, it seems, the answer is yes. But what I haven't been able to figure out is -- why? If you've got the money, space and patience, I guess the answer is why not?

But if you've never got enough of any of them, is it really necessary to spend your money and your last shred of sanity on a huge party? Many schools today make a blanket rule: Either invite the whole class or don't invite anyone.

When parents plan a guest list, it's important to make sure that some kids aren't purposefully left out. Though I still think that spending masses of money on a blowout bash, just so every kid can come along, sends the wrong message.

But parties are a big part of children's social lives, and having seen my son be left out, I don't want to be the one leaving out anyone else's child.

On the other hand, children do need to learn at some point that they won't be able to go to every event, so maybe the party circuit is good practice for handling the small disappointments in life.

What do your birthday parties look like? Do you invite every child in the class, choose your child's closest friends or avoid inviting school friends at all?