Birthday Party Etiquette March 14 2014

Is it a drop off party?  How do I know?  It doesn't say in the invitation.  Should I ask?

Up until this year, I went to every birthday party that my kids were invited to.  I knew at some point I would no longer be expected to stay.  But I had no idea when that day would come.  Well, it came a few months ago when my 6 year old daughter was a invited to a party. I only found out when we arrived at her friends house and I was the only mom there!  Awkward moment?  Oh Yeah!  But how was I to know?

This is just one of the many "etiquette" rules that I learned as a parent.  So here are some tips if you are wondering about some of the other rules.

Should I invite the whole class?

For some families this is not an option.  Kids parties are very costly and for some, inviting 20 kids is simply not doable.  Many schools have set policies, like inviting the whole class if you are using school to hand out the invitations. If you’re not inviting everyone, it’s worth talking to your kid about discretion, and remind him/her that he/she should keep party talk to him/herself.

Invitations: email, paper or evite?

It seems like everyone is using evite for party invitations.  It's easy, convenient, and cheap.  But consider one thing...your kids can't really participate in that and it is their party. If you have the means to do it, maybe opt for paper instead and you can let your child help pick out and write or decorate the invitations.

Should your child help pick out a present for his/her friend?

Why not?  As long as you tell them how much you will be spending and what they can/cannot pick, we think its a great learning experience for them. It teaches them about giving, and to think about others.  And, often times, they do know more about what their friend will like. 

How much money is appropriate to spend?

There is no right or wrong here.  It's about your particular budget and what you can spend.  As long as you give something to celebrate the kids' special day, the amount isn't important.   

If you can't go to a party, do you still have to buy a gift?

Like many of these "rules" a lot of these decisions come down to your own comfort level.  You may choose to if it's someone who attended your child's birthday or if its a really good friend.  A kid's birthday is very different than a bar or bat mitzvah or a wedding which more or less requires a gift regardless.  A kid's party, well, that's up to you.

Is it okay to bring a sibling to a party?

For younger kids under the age of 5 parents are usually expected to stay.  So, if you have another child, it's sometimes hard to get a sitter or someone to watch them for the one or two hours you will be at the party.  That said, it's always a good rule to call the party child's parents and ask them what they would prefer.  And as a mom who has done it before, it is always appreciated if you offer to pay any additional costs that could potentially be incurred.