Inviting Coworkers to Personal Events

Dear, Anita,

I’m having a BBQ and inviting some co-workers. Do I have to invite my boss? I’m worried that it’ll make some feel awkward. And how do I keep it a secret from the other people at work I’m not inviting, so they won’t feel slighted.

Dear, Miss Mannered,

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeWith the summer wedding, cookout, and party season upon us, the guest list dilemma often crops up. A simplistic answer could be extrapolated from elementary school birthday party etiquette – either invite the whole class or no one from school. But depending on your company size (and the acreage of your yard!), it could be impossible to invite every coworker.

If you work with a small team, you may want to invite your entire department, boss included. Then it’s up to each of them to decide if they are comfortable attending or not. Many supervisors understand that employees may prefer to socialize without the boss, and will gracefully decline.

Managers hosting parties should include their entire team if they invite anyone from the office at all to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Be careful, however, not to give the impression that attendance is obligatory.

If you want to keep your barbecue guest list to a few close chums from the office, invite them personally (not via your work email) and mention, “We’re trying to keep it small.”

For weddings, most people understand the per-person dollars and cents connected to each guest (and their plus one) invited to a reception, so you don’t have to avoid all mention of your wedding plans in the break room. Still, you may wish to say something to those who just barely didn’t make the cut. “I’d love to invite the whole office, but our budget simply wouldn’t allow it.” Diane Forden, Bridal Guide editor-in-chief, thinks it’s wise to invite your supervisor to your nuptials.

Each workplace has a different culture based on the combination of personalities involved, so use your intuition and common sense when composing and implementing your party list.

Readers: Do you or don’t you invite your boss to personal events with other coworkers?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Celebrate the Smart Way
Holiday Parties, Payouts, and Perks


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: