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  • Writer's pictureKelly Browne

Kid’s Birthday Party Etiquette – Tips, Invites, Gifts & What not to do!

Gone are the simple days when your mom would make a cake for your birthday and invite your classmates over for a gooey slice along with a Dixie cup of Hawaiian Punch. It was simple, memorable and your mom felt special when everyone raved about the cake she so lovingly made. Today, children’s birthday parties are big business as our kids expect to have a fabulous party when their friends and classmates do. From bowling alleys to make your own pizzas and amusement parks, these parties can become costly as tiny party goers expect to eat, be entertained for an hour or two, eat their cake then depart with a party bag filled with goodies.

If you’re having a party, here are a few things to think about:

Who are you inviting? The whole class? Just the girls/boys? Immediate friends? Friends and family? Take your budget into consideration before you decide. If you can’t invite “everyone” and are worried about hurt feelings at school, mail the invitations to home addresses or send via email. Many schools won’t allow birthday party invites to be handed out at school unless everyone is invited. Still worried about hurt feelings? Make sure the parent’s know not everyone could be invited and to ask their children to avoid party talk at school – they’ll understand.

Inviting a child with divorced parents? If you aren’t close to either parent, send the invitation to both parents. You will avoid the situation of one parent casting the invitation aside because it’s not on “their weekend,” and the child thinking they weren’t invited. If you’re the parent taking your son/daughter to the party, then you should be responsible to get the present. Don’t put your child in the middle.

Is it a “drop-off” party or are parent’s and siblings included? Unless you’ve specified on your electronic or paper invitation that it’s a “drop-off” party – meaning please drop your child off and pick them up at the specified time on the invitation, there’s the parents to think about who often attend the party along with their child and bring the siblings.

Party Venues? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a party. Consider doing a joint party with another classmate who’s birthday is close to your child’s. Think about cake and punch at the park, beach or local recreational center. What about arranging a tour at your local museum and making lunches for the kids? Some movie theaters offer discounted tickets before noon.

What’s an appropriate gift to give when your child is invited to a classmate’s party? Or what do you say when someone asks you what your child would like as a gift? Consider getting or mentioning a gift card to Target, Toys R’us, Barnes & Noble or Amazon if you are asked. The freedom to choose how they will use it will be appreciated and you won’t end up having more stuffed animals than you need. Typically, gift amounts range from $20-25.

Should children open their gifts at the party? Personally, I think it’s better to collect the gifts from the party and open them at home.If you have been invited to a party, don’t ask another parent if they’ve been invited too. Why? Because, if the other parent’s child wasn’t invited, that parent might be upset their child wasn’t included.

Sending electronic invitations? Consider using Not only are they free, but you can “see” when your invite has been opened and read. In addition to the option of being able to send messages to your guests, the app is easily added to your mobile phone so you can easily access the details to the party and you can see the guest list if the host has elected to show it.If you get an invitation to a party, always respond as soon as you can and respect the RSVP date so parents don’t have to follow up with you.

Thank-You Notes? Following the party, always help your child send a thank you note for the gifts they received. I love and always adore the elegance of Crane & Co. And of course my book is always a fabulous resource!It’s important to teach our children to be grateful for what they have.

Remember, there can be no jealously when you are grateful.

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