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The Hood Magazine

Party Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Kid Birthday Parties

Apr 25, 2015 11:29AM ● By Hood Magazine
By Ashley Sandborn, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center 


As a parent, kid birthday parties can often be overwhelming―not only to throw them but also to attend parties of your children’s fellow classmates. There are plenty of tricky issues that can arise, like money and invitations; however, Doniese Wilcox and Betty Barto-Smith, Certified Family Life Educators at Avera Children’s Hospital & Clinics, provide a quick and helpful guide to kids’ birthday party etiquette and how to handle every birthday party with ease.

If You’re Hosting a Party…

  • Practice. Prior to the party, have your child practice opening presents. It’s also important to teach proper etiquette and social skills. For example, practice how to greet guests as well as how to thank them for gifts. 
  • Invites. You’re not obligated to invite the entire classroom. In fact, many families follow the “age plus one” rule. For example, a party for a 4-year-old should have five attendees.
  • Presents. There are pros and cons to opening presents at the party. The benefits are that it’s good to teach your child about opening gifts and receiving graciously. It’s also good for the guests to see the happiness their presents have brought. However, it can be difficult for young children to open gifts. They often get overly excited, which can make it difficult to maintain focus. They also might blurt out that they don’t like a particular gift they’ve received. Therefore, it’s important to again practice these situations with your children prior to the party. Lastly, if your child receives an expensive gift, be grateful. Don’t refuse it simply because it’s too much. Everyone who has thought of your child enough to bring him/her a gift deserves a special, warm thank you. Each family decides what dollar amount works for their budget and each gift is special.
  • RSVP. You can either put on the invite, “If I don’t receive an RSVP by (date), I will assume your child will not be attending the party.” Or you can give a date by which you want RSVPs, and a method or two to reach you. Then, one week before the party, call any families you haven’t heard from and give them a friendly reminder, such as, “I just wanted to quickly call to see if your child is coming to the party because I’m trying to get an accurate head count. Here’s the time and date of the party. Thanks!” 


If You’re Attending a Party…

  • Presents. There is no right amount to spend on a present. Therefore, spend whatever is in your budget.
  • Bringing more than one guest: If you have two or more kids, you should ask if it’s OK if siblings also attend the party. Furthermore, you should stick around if the sibling is an infant or toddler, and always offer to pay all expenses for additional guests. If possible, try and make other arrangements for the sibling.
  • Not invited? If your child is not invited to a classmate’s party, try and validate your child’s feelings of disappointment and help him or her learn to be the bigger person.
  • Can’t attend? You’re not obligated to buy a gift, but you can if you want to.