It has come to my attention that we have all lost our collective minds, at least when it comes to etiquette and birthday parties. Believe me, I am no Emily Post but I am not referring to using correct thank you note cardstock, having a salad fork or if you wear your best strand of pearls. I am talking about the basics. Simple courtesies. So I am going to offer a little refresher on the do’s and don’ts of birthday party etiquette. All of these are based on real life occurrences.
Do: RSVP to a party.
Seems simple, right? You have hosted a party. You need to know how many kids are coming. You need to provide the party location with numbers. You need to make sure you have enough cake or goody bags. Then why is it so hard for people to RSVP for a party they are not hosting? Our digital world makes it so, so easy to respond. Click a button yes or no. Or *gasp* send an email or text. It does not require human contact, it does not have to be done during daylight hours. For the love of all that is holy, please just RSVP!
Don’t: RSVP for a child who was not invited.
True story: While planning a party for my youngest, I received an email from a parent I don’t know checking on the party because they had not received an invitation yet. They had not received an invitation because her child had not been invited! The invites were sent electronically, outside of school and not to the entire class. I was forced into inviting someone to my child’s party that my child does not like. Another true story: My friend was hosting an all girls sleepover for her 6th grade daughter when a parent emailed to ask if her 2nd grade son could come too. Um, no.
Do: Follow the invitation instructions.
Is it a swim party? Bring a swimsuit and towel. A gym party? Don’t wear a dress and high heels. Invitation says no presents? Don’t bring a present.
Don’t: Treat a party like free child care.
Not once but twice, we have had parents drop off multiple siblings that were not invited to the party. One parent said to me, “I thought Pete’s little brother would have fun so I brought him too” as she walked out the door. Another time I had a parent bring two additional siblings. As a result, I was charged an extra $25 and did not have enough goody bags or pizza.
Do: Pick up your kid on time.
I am very happy to supervise your child at the party. No need for you to stay. However, I am not happy to sit in the lobby with your kid when you are 45 minutes late. If you are truly stuck, just let me know. You have my contact information on the invitation.
Do: Send personal thank you notes.
I am old school. I make my kids write out a thank you note to each person after the party thanking them for coming AND for the gift they were given. Even when they were little, I would write the note, they wrote their name. The pre-printed cards in the goody bags don’t cut it. If someone took the time to come to your party and bring a gift, you owe them a personal thank you.
Don’t: Bring a sick kid.
Two years ago a kid came to my youngest’s party and told me all about how they were throwing up the night before. Three kids ended up missing school on Monday with a stomach bug. Again, my contact number is on the invitation. A friend ended up a victim of a lice outbreak after a parent knowingly sent an infected kid to a party.
A little common courtesy goes a long way. We all make mistakes, we all forget. We are all busy and stressed. But please do what you can to make your fellow parents’ lives a little easier and we can all collectively enjoy the birthday-party-throwing process!