The dreaded guest list; this is where you may have to step in and draw some boundaries.  Younger children it is easier to compile a list of a few of your close friends and their children. Maybe a few children from your child’s day care.  Older children, if allowed, would invite their entire school.  Know your limitations first.  Ask yourself just how many screaming, laughing, loud, and rowdy kids can you handle at one time.

Give your child a ballpark number.  (Word to the wise, shoot low first.)  Give your child the least amount of kids you can handle comfortably.  Say if your maximum is 10, offer your child 5 guests.  Allow them to counter and if it gets up to ten you are still within your limitation range, yet they feel like they made the final call. 

Keep in mind the ages of the kids being invited as well and how much help you will have when setting your personal limitations.  Will adults accompany them or will you be on your own.  If the birthday party is for a toddler, specify that an adult must remain with the child at the party.  This saves you from having to be disciplinarian to a child who may be less than accommodating.  A good rule of thumb with toddlers is to take their age and just add one and invite no more guests then that.  Therefore, for a 3 year olds birthday party the most amount of guest you would invite would be four.  The average party guest-list I see most is 10 to 15 children for children over the age of six, so do not feel like you are short-changing your child by not having more.

True Note:  Though I find large parties are more the norm these days, small ones still work great. I did a show for Mr 4 yr old and he just wanted his best friends to attend. There were four children for my magic show and we had a wonderful time.  I did a show just today (at time of writing obviously) and had four cousins aged 5,7,9, & 10 the parents sat around and enjoyed the show too.  It was lovely.

Keep in mind where the party will be such as in the home, yard, roller or ice skating rinks, park, recreation centre, public beach or swimming pool, laser tag or paint ball facility, sporting event, convention centre, or a hotel.  Some of these locations can be very expensive so you may want to consider the amount of guest per cost of location when giving an allowable head count.