Author Topic: Birthday party etiquette  (Read 5834 times)

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Knitterly

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Birthday party etiquette
« on: September 09, 2012, 03:00:48 PM »
I am in the very fun process of planning Little Knit's first birthday celebration.  This will be the only birthday party we will be having for her until she is old enough to have a celebration where she can invite her own friends.  Future celebrations will be more low key.

I have a few questions that I hope more seasoned vets of the world of Birthday Parties can help me sort through.

  • We are celebrating separately with friends and family.  We have lots of reasons for doing this, but the two big ones are space (we don't have a lot of it) and not making some guests feel awkward over the present thing.  By the latter, I mean that family members are expecting to bring gifts for Little Knit, and we see nothing wrong with this (I couldn't imagine trying to tell my mother in law, for example, not to buy something for her only granddaughter).  We are open to accepting gifts from family members.  We do not expect presents from friends and have done our best to express this to them politely (especially when asked "what does little Knit want?"  Our answer has been "She's too little to want anything, and honestly she doesn't need anything and we don't have the space for anything.  This is just an excuse to have a big barbecue and some cake.").
    • I have a question directly resulting from this.  In spite of doing our best to convince friends that we don't want/need anything for LK, several of them have bounced up delightedly and said "I found the best gift ever for LK!  I know you said not to, but I couldn't resist. I can't wait to give it to her."  That is actually a direct quote from one friend.  So knowing that many of our friends will not bring something, what do we do with the gifts from those who choose to anyway?  Would it be rude not to open them while the guests are there?  It's a really difficult dilemma.  On the one hand, you don't want to offend the gift giver, but on the other, you don't want to make those who didn't bring anything feel awkward.  What do you do???
  • Is it weird to give goodie bags to adults?
  • How do you deal with people that don't RSVP?  I'm sure certain family members and their kids are attending, but they have not RSVP'd.  That makes planning really awkward (especially for goodie bags).  With family, I can call them, but what do you do about friends that doesn't make it seem like you're badgering them?  I have a week left and no clear idea of who is coming.  A few people have told me verbally that they are probably coming, but have not confirmed it.  Do I just make goodie bags for everyone and risk having leftovers?
  • And finally... regarding thank you notes.  At Christmas, we did something really cheesy, a little stupid, and very fun.  We took pictures of LK with each gift individually (or with the gift giver if a pic of the gift wasn't possible) and sent these dorky little thank you notes "from" LK.  She was still a baby at the time.  Now she can at least hold a crayon.  Would it be overly cutesie or twee to do something similar for thank you notes this time around? Or should I just write a note myself and let her "sign" it with a scribble?

I may have a few questions later this week as I get the final details done. 
The only other birthday party I have ever planned was a big 30th shindig for my hubby.  I managed to pull off the surprise of the year for him.  It was awesome!!  ;)

Advice would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 03:04:41 PM by Knitterly »

magician5

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 03:26:57 PM »
1 - I have no solution to offer - other than to re-emphasize your wishes if you speak to them again between now and then (and that, too, would be an etiquette mess). If you made the sincerity of your wish clear when you invited them, that is IMO all you can do.

2 - I'm against goodie bags for any age - when did this useless gesture become an expected "tradition?" As a onetime pro birthday entertainer, my reasoning is HERE

3 - Again, no goodie bags (I shudder to think what an "adult goodie bag" would contain ... or is my imagination too evil?) - Prepare emough cake and ice cream for a few extra, and hope for the best.

4 - NOT "a little stupid" - I think it's really great!
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a

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 03:56:02 PM »
The first question is a tricky one. I had the same problem for a big b'day bash for myself - told everyone that I *really* did not want any presents, but still got some. My best advice would be to thank everyone who came profusely, stressing that "we only really wanted you to come, so thank you very much for that". They will then hopefully understand that you were sincere with your wish not to get any presents for the little one. If they think one step further they'll also understand that you'll need to thank people with presents for them anyway.

For people who brought presents, say 'thank you' (obviously) but perhaps add 'you really did not need to buy anything', with a smile. Hopefully any guests w/o presents will hear you say this at least once!

Good luck with the party!

Knitterly

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2012, 04:08:23 PM »
3 - Again, no goodie bags (I shudder to think what an "adult goodie bag" would contain ... or is my imagination too evil?) - Prepare emough cake and ice cream for a few extra, and hope for the best.

Uhm.... Candy and chocolate.
Not sure I want to know what you were thinking.
Kids goodie bags will contain a small container of play-doh, a bouncy ball, a yo-yo, a chocolate bar, a lollipop, and three other pieces of candy.

Adults will contain 1 or 2 old fashioned candy sticks, a chocolate bar, and a lollipop.  No need for silly knick-knacks for the adults. 

I read through that link.  I have a pinata for the kids to hammer away at outside.  No blindfolds as I don't care for the risk of injury.  There are only going to be 4 kids at one and 7 at the other.  A maximum of 4 at either will be old enough for the pinata anyway.   That's going to be the only structured game.  I have a pretty exciting back yard with lots of climby things, so I've got fingers crossed for a nice day.  :)

QuilaZen

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2012, 04:10:36 PM »
It wouldn't be rude to open them later.  I've seen that at a few birthday parties.  It would actually make things less awkward for the people who didn't bring gifts.  I once did as a parent asked and didn't bring a gift to the party, only to be one of two people who didn't show up with gifts.  They opened the gifts at the party, which made me feel really awkward.  I think the other mom escaped during the party and got a quick gift.

I've never been to a birthday party where goody bags were done for adults, so it would be out of the ordinary for me.  Even when adults are invited to kid parties, I've only seen goody bags for the kids.

The thank you note idea sounds cute. Don't have a good answer for the RSVPs other than if you are making goody bags, don't make them for the people who don't RSVP. (says evilQZ)

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2012, 05:16:52 PM »
I think you're fine opening the gifts later. I would also skip goodie bags all together, but if you feel compelled ...

I think Thank Yous from you with LK's scribble are fine - what I find 'twee' are letters written in your hand from the child as in :

Dear Guest,

I love my Pat The Bunny book! Mommy says she'll read it to me tonight, and my Daddy put it on my shelf! I just can't wait until I can read it for myself!

Love, LK

GAH - too cutesy. Even worse is when words are intentionally misspelled or written in a 'child-like' hand.

merryns

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2012, 05:29:26 PM »
Giving gift bags, even to the kids, at a 'no gift' party increases the risk of hurting the feelings of people who do what you ask and don't bring a gift.

WestAussieGirl

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2012, 05:49:16 PM »
I have hosted 12 children's parties and attend about 20 per year for the last 7 years.  I think gifts have been opened during the party at maybe 3 or 4 of them.  When I was a kid we always opened them as they were received but around here it just isn't done anymore.  The gifts are always put somewhere out of the way and opened later.  Consequently I think it is fine to wait to open them until after the party so that non gift givers don't feel awkward.

I like your thank you idea but I would go with you writing it and her scribbling her signature.

I always make up extra goodie bags for the uninvited and non-rsvps but that's for kids.  I don't feel they should be effectively punished for their parents lack of etiquette. I wouldn't do it for adults.

Knitterly

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2012, 06:27:23 PM »
I think you're fine opening the gifts later. I would also skip goodie bags all together, but if you feel compelled ...

I think Thank Yous from you with LK's scribble are fine - what I find 'twee' are letters written in your hand from the child as in :

Dear Guest,

I love my Pat The Bunny book! Mommy says she'll read it to me tonight, and my Daddy put it on my shelf! I just can't wait until I can read it for myself!

Love, LK


GAH - too cutesy. Even worse is when words are intentionally misspelled or written in a 'child-like' hand.

That is exactly what I did at christmas and was wondering about doing now.  There were no misspellings, deliberate or otherwise. 

The me vs. her writing question was about exactly that, me writing it from Mr. K and I, or me writing it from LK's pov.  it was cute at Christmas when she was a small baby.  Not sure if it would be too much to repeat that.

Knitterly

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2012, 06:29:21 PM »
Giving gift bags, even to the kids, at a 'no gift' party increases the risk of hurting the feelings of people who do what you ask and don't bring a gift.

Why would that be?  Genuinely curious.  If I was given a treat bag at a no-gifts party, I don't think my feelings would be hurt.  But then again, I tend to think a little differently than joe-average.

Thipu1

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2012, 07:29:50 PM »
First fall, Best Wishes to LK on her first Birthday.

Now, to the questions.

1) The people who found 'the best gift ever' are probably close to you.  Would it be possible to explain that, while you appreciate the thought, you don't want to make other guests feel uncomfortable?  could the gift be presented at some time other than the party?

2) Goodie bags for adults are weird, unless your guests are presenters at the Academy Awards.  Even then, goodie bags are weird.

3) No-shows and oh-yeah-shows are always going to happen at parties.  Just divide the number of people who don't RSVP in half and prepare enough extra food for that number of people.

4) Do what you did for Christmas, although you might want to skip the photo since gifts aren't a feature of this party.     

WillyNilly

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2012, 10:11:31 PM »
Don't open the gifts at the party.  When shes old enough to understand and appreciate the stuff, she can open gifts at her parties for now, just put them aside.

Instead of goodie bags for adults, why not put out large bowls of candy and as people are leaving encourage them to take a few pieces "for the road".

I think the thank you notes should be from you and your DH but please do have some Little Knit scribbles on them.  I like when parents either have their little ones decorate the front of a totally blank card, or even instead of a card even just write the thank you note on a piece of construction paper art.

CakeEater

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2012, 10:28:30 PM »
I made decorated cookies in bags for my adult guests at my last family kiddie party, and it was kind of awkward. I couldn't tell you why, but I wouldn't do it again.

I'd let LK decorate notes written from you. Notes 'from' her can seem a bit redundant, because she really can't appreciate people's effort and generosity at that age. And the guests aren't really coming to the party for her, becaue she doesn't know what's happening. They're coming for you, so it's nice to show that you appreciate their effort.

I'd open any gifts later if possible. If people really want her to have it now, I'd try to have her open it away from the other guests (not sure if that's possible with how your party will be set up). Enthuse a bit, then super enthuse in your thank-you note.

Edited to say - I'm no help with amounts of food. I go a bit over the top regardless of how many people have RSVPed.

camlan

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2012, 10:56:50 PM »
1) Don't open the gifts at the party. If a gift-giver makes a fuss, quietly explain that many guests didn't bring gifts and you don't want to embarrass anyone.

2) I think the bowl of "candy for the road" is a better way to go.

3) Did you give a date to RSVP by? If that date has past, you can call up the non-responders and ask. If they can't give you a straight answer, or a firm date by which they will give you a straight answer, then just say that you're afraid you'll have to put them down as a no. If you can only reach someone's voicemail, leave a message saying that unless you hear from them by X date, you'll understand that they can't make it.

4) I've received a lot of thank you notes from small children that are basically a piece of paper that they have drawn on. The parent writes in somewhere, "Thank you! Susie loves the doll/book/blocks," and signs it. Sometimes they just write "Thank you," in a blank space on the page. As a doting aunt/godmother/friend of the family, that's a perfect thank you in my book.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


MummyPumpkin83

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Re: Birthday party etiquette
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2012, 11:12:24 PM »
1. I'd either open the gift as it was given, off to the side so it is nota big production. Or thank the person and say you are opening presents afterwards. I know at DS1 first birthday the presents got unwrapped, and then all removed from their packaging before my husband could see. Most of them were played with by the other people there. The guests? Our family, all adults (and a 6month old) as DS1 is the first grandchild on both sides.

2. If people had an RSVP date, call to check up, and mark as a no if no response

3. This may be a regional thing but goodie bags are common at kids parties, usually a few lollies and a cheap toy or two for the kids. In my family we did the same thing for the adults invited to the first couple of birthdays, as there weren't any other kids.

4. Thank you notes aren't a big thing at all in my circle. I think a card from you expressing your thanks and a scribble from LK would be fine.
Mummy to 3 little Pumpkin boys!