Birthday party etiquette – it can be the thing that helps the birthday party itself, alongside planning, flow smoothly. Or it can trip you up, creating a sea of diplomatic nightmares.
What are the do’s and don’ts of birthday party etiquette? Over the years, the right and wrong things to do have changed which is why we have taken time to look at what parents, carers and grandparents are telling us help to throw a party that runs smoothly…
#1 The Invite List Foul-Ups
On one hand, you have limited space and a limited budget but on the other, your child is an active and social butterfly, with a larger group of school friends, sports clubs and so on.
There are times when a long, long guest list is simply not a feasible option. So how do you cut it down to a manageable number?
From what parents are telling us, just cutting out one or two people off the guest lists sends the wrong message. The answer can seem drastic but it means keeping your party guest list small or better still, give it a theme that fits with guests.
For example, spa days for a group of girls, a sleepover for two or three friends etc. However, at the end of the day, you can’t invite everyone and parents should have an understanding of this: just don’t single out individual people.
#2 The Sibling Nightmare
How many times has it happened? A child is invited to a party, and when Mum or Dad turns up, they ask for their sibling to stay as well.
Here’s the thing: it can place extra pressure on you, especially if a handful of people do it. Your party of 10 guests now becomes 15, and you haven’t planned for this.
The answer? There are a few, and neither of them are pretty:
- ‘No siblings, sorry!’ on the invite, although some people say this looks rude
- Don’t mention and hope that people will ask before they drop Johnny off with his sister and brother but be prepared to say no
- Shrug your shoulders – the more the merrier, right?
#3 The Gift List Faux Pas
Children’s parties are meant to be fun and yet, there are times when requests from parents can be simply breath-taking. We have all seen the social media stories or parents producing gift lists and the like for their little darling’s birthday.
This is not a wedding – and even then, some people think of a guest list as presumptuous and rude – so this is the answer: DON’T DO IT.
#4 Do Have Food for the Adults
Some parents will drop their kid through the door and hightail it for two hours of ‘me time’ whilst some people will stay and help out. They don’t expect a feast of Tudor proportions but some nibbles and some drinks would be nice.
#5 Learn the ‘Skill of Distraction’
There will be fall-outs and bust-ups, cross words and meltdowns but as the adult, you need to step in. This doesn’t mean getting your naughty step out but learning to distract children.
It also helps to understand when these meltdowns and wobbles could occur, like when children are left by mum or dad in a strange environment, or during game time e.g. when someone is not good at losing.
Don’t belittle or berate, rather distract with another party game.
#6 Do Your Prep!
Entertaining children is a must and that means doing your prep beforehand. If you are not buying in entertainment, you need to have oodles of party games up your sleeve and a schedule to your party.
Don’t expect guests or adults to effectively entertain themselves.
#7 Let Parents/Carers Know If Guests Need to Bring Anything
It has happened zillion of times before and will happen zillion of times again in the future but not at your party because we have forewarned you…
If your guests need anything special – bring your hula hoop! Bring socks for the trampoline! Or bring your swimming costume, towel and sunscreen for the water party! – put it on the invite. And provide spares if needed.
#8 Leave Gift Opening Until After the Party
Any gifts received are not to be opened in front of the rest of the party. It brings the atmosphere of the party right down, leading it to flatline because, after all, parties are about friends, fun and cake.
#9 Greet and Wave Goodbye
EVERY child (and their Mum or Dad etc.) should be thanked for coming, and your birthday boy or girl needs to do the same. People need to feel appreciated and a thank you is a delightful way of doing so.
#10 Drop a Thank You Line
A thank you text or note, or even an email, goes a long way to keeping on the good side of other parents and carers. The next time you need a hand, they may be more willing to help…