Party etiquette 101 for parents

Party etiquette 101 for parents

Learn how to act and react in many different children’s party situations.

Photo Credit: Andrei Tchernov
By Angela McKendree

Gift etiquette:

Q: What do you do when your child is invited to a joint party but is only friends with one of the birthday boys? Do you have to bring two gifts?

A: Not always. If you choose to get a gift for only the birthday boy (or girl) that your child knows as a friend, you must at least get a card for the other child. However, giving a small gift, such as a book, is a very polite gesture. If the kids are related, as is the case with twins, you can get them a joint gift, such as a board game or puzzle, or a movie that they can both watch.


Q: Do I have to R.S.V.P. if I don’t plan to go?

A: Yes, always respond to an invitation. It is the right thing to do. The parents planning the party will want to know how many pizzas to order, how many cupcakes to bake and how many favor bags to put together. Do not forget to R.S.V.P.

Q: When should I R.S.V.P.?

A: As soon as you know whether or not you’ll be able to make it to the party, make the time to call the parent in charge and let them know. Make sure you respond at least five days before the party, unless you didn’t get the invitation until a week before.


Q: Do I have to leave my child alone at a party where all the other parents are dropping their kids off and leaving?

A: The answer depends on the age of the children. If the kids are seven or eight years of age or older, you should leave them. It is time to stop babying your children and they need to learn how to get along without their mommy and daddy. If your child is six or under you may choose to stay, but only if the child asks you to stay. If you fear a tantrum, stay until they are adjusted and then let them know you are leaving. If this causes a negative reaction, inform the parents that you’ll be staying. If you don’t want to embarrass the child, call the parents who are planning the party ahead of time, explain that your child isn’t comfortable with you leaving and offer to stay and help supervise and clean up after the party. Your presence will surely be welcome with such an offer.

Who to invite:

Q: Do I have to invite my child’s entire class?

A: If the class is small-fewer than ten kids- you can make it a class party. If you are trying to limit the number of invites, then no you certainly don’t have to. However, to avoid hurting any feelings, it would be best to send the invitations via mail or email. Don’t send your child to school to pass out pretty birthday party invitations if you don’t intend to invite everyone.

Q: Do I have to invite the siblings of my child’s friends?

A: No. It is rude for people to assume that it is ok to bring family member without calling to check first. Aside from infants, you do not have to extend an invitation to your child’s friend’s entire household. Of course, if some unexpected guests show up, you must be gracious and make them feel welcome.

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