How to Write Invitations for a Formal Birthday

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The main differences between a formal and an informal birthday party invitation is that a formal one adopts a more conservative tone and an R.S.V.P. is required from the recipient. You can use some humor, which is fitting if the guest of honor is known for their upbeat personality, but keep it subtle.

  • Write the introduction. This section should be one or two sentences that explain who is being celebrated, what age they have reached and the importance of the milestone--a sweet 16 gathering, a 21st birthday bash, the big 4-0. Make it clear in the introduction if the event is a surprise. Examples of how to word this section are:

    "Our dear father Brian Jacobson is turning 65 next month. We are hosting a surprise birthday party to pay tribute to his life and his hard work in building his successful catering business."
    "Molly Taylor is turning 21. You know what means: We'll be celebrating all night until we see the sun!"
    "Come join us in wishing David Banner a very happy 30th birthday."
    "Sarah Johnson will be 40 this year. Help us surprise her with a sit-down dinner at her favorite restaurant."

  • Give the date, time, location and the complete address. Don't assume that everyone knows where the celebrant's favorite hangout is or where the party's host lives. Keep this section concise to make it easy to remember and write each part on a separate line. This section should read similar to:

    June 10, 2009
    7:30 p.m.
    Bistro Under the Stars
    591 South St.
    Pretty Town, PA 67304

  • Write what the guests should expect at the party. Phrases that convey this are:

    "Cocktails and appetizers will be served."
    "A family-style dinner will be followed by a dessert buffet."
    "Bring your favorite dish to our potluck affair."
    "A light lunch will accompany the tea party."

  • Reveal the theme if one exists. If you are throwing a costume party, one that plays on a Western motif or an event that reflects the birthday girl's love for pink, let guests know if you'd like gifts or their dress to coordinate with the theme. Say something along the lines of, "We are treating Sally to the Godiva chocolate that she so loves. Please bring a Godiva treat to the party to add to a gift basket we will be presenting her."

  • Indicate the dress code no matter how casual the party. Simply writing "Black tie," "Business dress," "Evening wear required" or "Casual attire" is appropriate.

  • Give the name of the host or hosts. Wording can follow such phrasing as:

    "Host: Donna Martin."
    "Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis, hosts."
    "Hosted by longtime friends Marcia Conner, Brenda Freehold and Kristin Lee."

  • Signify if you want an RSVP no matter what or only in case a guest can't attend. If you want a response from everyone invited, put, "Kindly RSVP." For RSVPs just from people who can't make it, write, "Regrets only."

  • Give the full name of the person who is tracking the guest list and their phone number. Stick with using a telephone for contacting each other since older guests may not use a computer or regularly send e-mails.

Tips & Warnings

  • Proofread your invitation for spelling, grammar and accuracy. You don't want to send your invites with the name of the birthday boy spelled incorrectly or the wrong address to the party site. Have a friend look it over for you since a fresh set of eyes are always best when reviewing your writing. For help with wording an invitation, visit such websites as MyGatsby.com or Samples-Help.Org.UK (see Resources) for tips.

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