Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Kids Birthday Party Etiquette

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Hi Everyone,

My DD is having a birthday in a few days and I was curious about everyone's etiquette related Do's and Dont's for a child's birthday party.  Words of wisdom also appreciated. :D

Invitations went out a few days later than I liked, but only one (out of 14 RSVP'd).  ::)  Lucky I live in a small town, so I've managed to bail up most of the parents to date.

What are your views on present opening?  Straight away, individually as people arrive?  All at once, towards the end?  My neighbour doesn't open anything at the party and leaves it all until the guests leave.  I found that disappointing as I missed her son's reaction to my gift.

I think that thank you's have been discussed before, but as a reminder, if thanked immediately at the party are "thank you notes" necessary?

How much should any parents that stay be entertained?  I thought about putting out a plate of "adult" type food and pointing to the kettle. ;D  We're pretty informal around my house.

Looking forward to your replies.


For my daughters birthday, we gave invites to her entire class, you can't just invite a few unless you know all the phone numbers of who you want to invite.

We did games, pizza, cake, then presents. After presents (i've noticed at any party) people start to drift out the door. So I figure it's a great way to let people know the party is over.

I generally, if we are not doing a meal party, put out pretzels (or like chex mix), chips and dip, a veggie platter, fruit platter, soda, juice and I have coffee made.

Chocolate Cake:
Present opening comes right after the cake eating.   Or, during the cake eating.  Leave enough time so that each child receives the pleasure of seeing the birthday child open his/her present.  There is nothing more disappointing to a child than to not see their gift opened.   Allot about 2-3 minutes per gift (opening, admiring, thanking, etc.)

Verbal thank you's are a must, but so are written thank you's.  Mail them no later than 3-4 days after the party.

If the children are of an age where most parents would feel uncomfortable leaving, then you'll have to accomodate them with food/beverage.

However, if the child is old enough where the parent should feel comfortable leaving, but don't, don't make any special arrangements.  Helicopter parents shouldn't be rewarded when they are in the way.

The parents thing - depends on the age of the kids.  If they're, say, 10 - don't accomodate the parents.  If the kids are quite young, like nursery-school age, then I think it's fine to have some snacks out for them.

*I* personally think kids should open their presents after the party.  Especially if the birthday kid is quite young - kids tend to "speak the truth."  As in "A backpack isn't a present!" or "I already have this movie," or "I HATE Spiderman!"  But as Chocolate Cake mentioned, the kids like to see their gift getting opened, so maybe not.

Chocolate Cake:
Especially if the birthday kid is quite young - kids tend to "speak the truth."

Good point.  I think that the issue should be addressed with the child a day or two before the party.  You could role play with your child so that they can practice how to say a few nice things about a present that they don't  like.   If you combine that exercise with a succinct explanation about how negative comments would make the gift-giver feel and how it could hurt the friendship and about the general idea of graciousness, I think your child would handle a situation like this very well.    That's been my experience with my two kids, anyway.


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