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Children's Birthday Party Etiquette

A birthday party could be your child’s dream come true or your worst nightmare!

Children love birthday parties. It is the time of the year they get to shine and have all the attention laid out on them. They talk about their party at school, and invitations to the party become a very important aspect of feeling special even before the event.    Some families like to celebrate just with family and close personal friends.  The first birthday is often a milestone event and is celebrated in style. When children get to school, peer pressure begins to invite classmates, and a birthday party becomes more stressful for parents.

It is a good idea to plan ahead of the event and be firm about the invites.  Depending on your budget, a hired venue is a stress-free route to go. A party planner may be a big help if your budget allows for a themed party all planned. Children love the idea of a party theme centred around their favourite superhero. Dress-up clothes, decorated party boxes, and a large decorated cake all add up to the costs of a themed birthday party. 

Yes, you want to spoil your child, but birthday parties can get quite out of hand. One of the most pressing questions asked by parents is about the invites.  How many children do you invite, and must you include younger or older siblings?

Here are some guidelines and answers to other questions you may have:

Invitations. Do you include siblings in the party invitations?

This is a very tricky question to answer. If the party is for family and friends, then, of course, siblings would be included. They are part of the collective family group.  When the party is for friends, particularly school friends, it is customary to invite the birthday child’s peer group. The children they play with at school. If you are not able to accommodate siblings, it is important to stipulate that on the invitation. Put this requirement politely but nicely to avoid any confusion. Say something like, ‘we regret we cannot accommodate siblings this year.’  Or “We are looking forward to having – and writing the invitee’s name – at our party.

Include an RSVP number to track who is coming to the party or for any questions about the guest list.  It is better to decide on this guideline for the party and stick to it.  It can be most disappointing for your child if younger siblings arrive at a party. Having a mixed age group may make some of the games and activities you planned more difficult to organise.

If your party is a family affair or the birthday child is very young then siblings can help with the party and the family fun.

Should you invite the whole class to your child’s party if they are at school?

This is another of those questions that is a personal choice. Check with your school.  They may have a school policy about handing out invitations at school.  It can cause great sadness to the children who do not get an invite to school when all the other children do.  

Many schools have a mailing list and phone contacts. Sending out personal invites via a class list could be a way of avoiding the whole class invite issue.

What is the most important part of the celebration?

The birthday cake is probably the most exciting part for the birthday child. It is the highlight of the party; the song, the candle ceremony, and the birthday wish all make the cake a big highlight.

Do you have to have party favours or goodie bags?

This has become a party tradition people enjoy because it enables the birthday child to give thanks to their guests and send them home with a token of appreciation. It is not a compulsory feature but has become a generous tradition and a way to teach your child to give and not just expect to receive.

What about parents attending the party?

Once again, this is a personal choice. The younger children need their parents, but it is more work as you have to cater to them. Older children are usually at a ‘big school’ and are used to going out independently.  If a parent requests to stay at the party, there is probably a good reason for the request, and it might be easier just to have them there as a helper and support of their child.

How important is it to organise the party with the children in mind?

This is a vital part of planning a kiddies party. If you want your party to be a success, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of an older sibling and a friend to help manage the games.  If your home is not suitable for a kids party, then go to another venue. Make lists of what you need to provide and have a budget in mind.  

Remember to have fun.  It is all about making memories and your camera needs to be close at hand for happy party photos. They will give you the opportunity to look back and have wonderful party pictures to treasure.