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Party Etiquette for Kids’ Parties

There are basic rules of etiquette when throwing a kids’ party.  I am not claiming to know them all.  After all, I was raised in a very middle class family that didn’t even throw birthday parties, unless it was with my cousins.  I have learned a few of these tips on my own and from attending other birthday parties.  Here are just a few and I plan to add to the list as I gather some more.  Please leave comments if I have left something out.
1.  Invitations:  Send invitations (via email, phone, Evite, snail mail, or hand delivery) at least two weeks in advance.  When you send an invitation a week or less in advance it might be insulting.  It looks as if you think the recipient has nothing better to do than attend your party.  
2.  RSVPs:  Be cautious yet obvious that an RSVP is requested.  Add your Email, phone and possibly text information for people to get in touch with you.  I know that RSVPs are a huge problem in America.  I don’t understand why people can’t be courteous and respond to an invitation.  Parties are such hard work and can be so costly when food, party favors, and prizes come into play.  Here are some tricks that might help:
– Please RSVP by “this date” for food count.
– Please RSVP and include shirt size.  (This might entice people to RSVP if they know they are getting a shirt, etc.) 
– Please RSVP and include siblings names. (This might peak their interest as their sibling will be included in any personalization of the party)

I did read a post on a website in which someone did not include the party date to make people call for the date.  I thought this was rude and tricky but I am sure it worked!  I would stick to conventional wording on RSVPs.  If you become too pushy it may come off wrong and people may not want to attend your party anyhow!

3.  Siblings:  Should you invite siblings to a party?  I have run into this problem too often.  I have been invited to a party and my husband is working.  Either bring the sibling or find a babysitter.  The proper thing to do is kindly respond to to RSVP but to ask if siblings are attending or if you should find a sitter.  Don’t tell the party host that you cannot attend unless the host does not accept the sibling as well.  If this is the case, maybe RSVP as no.  If you know the person very well it should not be an issue, but if this is a new friend at school, it might be best to leave the sibling at home or with a sitter.  As the kids become older, the parties will be drop off anyhow and it won’t be an issue.  This is really just a problem for preschool – 2nd grade parties.  My thought it that the siblings should be fine to attend as long as it is not a specialized party.  Specialized parties could have a size limit, cost per child, or personalized party favors.
As for my parties, I always says siblings are welcome if they RSVP.  I don’t want to run short on food, prizes, or party favors.  I would much rather find out in advance than be surprised the day of the party and be running around my house trying to find more party bags.  I always make extras but not more than 5.

4.  Party Favors:  You must have party favors!!!!  I don’t care how low budget your party is this time.  If you invite someone to a party and they take time out of their precious day to attend and bring a gift, they should receive a parting gift – a thank you gift for their time.  Seriously, it could be as simple as a pencil with cute tags attached with bow that say, “Thank you for attending.”  You can even get things donated by companies.  Trust me, this works!  I requested whistles from the American Lung Association, stickers, awards from a running store, pencils, pens, even those squeezy toys from a promotional company.  Promotional companies receive samples so they can spare a few giveaways if you promise to show their label/logo at your party or add it to the back of the thank you note.  Cross marketing always works!  You can also send a thank you note and include pictures with the kids and their parting gifts.  I have to make a separate post on party favors because they are my favorite thing in the world.  I know it’s wrong, but I always judge a party on the party favors.  It’s the finishing touch to a party and its the frosting on the cake.  It is something to “WoW” the child on their way out and to leave a lasting thought in their head that they had a great time at the party and they can’t wait for next year’s!
5:  Food:  Make sure there aren’t any children with food allergies.  I try to not include peanuts in any of my parties because so many children have a peanut allergy.  You may want to include on the invitation in very small font, *Please let me know if your child has any food allergies.  This would be especially true if the party is a drop-off party for ages 6-8.
6.  Drinks:  It might be wise to not include alcohol at your child’s parties if there are kids from school and to limit it to just close friends/family parties.  There is nothing like drunk parents running around ignoring their parental duties and then driving home their children.  Let’s prevent accidents and just leave it out for a few hours. 
And while we are on the subject of drinks, um, could you please have some???  I have been to a few parties in the past few years in which there are NO beverages for the parents.  A party is the time for people to relax, have fun, enjoy a nice beverage and some tasty treats.  A party with no drinks is like a Target with no snack bar,  a Costco with no samples, and a JoAnns with no sales. 
Drinks ideas:  Soda in varieties with STRAWS available, Lemonade, Punch, Italian sodas, Crystal Light, V8 splash, flavored water, and alcohol free shakes.  Please don’t think that plain water or water bottle will suffice.  Plain is not the way to go when throwing a party!
7:  Agenda:  Always write out an agenda before your party.  Type it up and give a copy to your spouse or co-host but make sure guests don’t see it.  Make sure to stick to the schedule and as the first guest tells you they need to leave (and its close to closing time), make sure to bring them their parting gift and walk them to the door or exiting area.  Thank them for coming and tell them what a pleasure it was to have them there.  Eventually, all the guests will get the hint and see the parting gifts.  Try to remember that guests may have other errands to attend to and they don’t want to be rude by leaving.  It will be a nice push for them to see the end is in sight.
Gifts – to open or not?  That is another article for another time.
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