By Katie Moosbrugger

It’s a fact that birthdays happen every year, and if you have more than one child, you’re managing a lot of expectations for these special celebrations! With my oldest child approaching age 15, I’ve heard a lot of chatter on both sides of the birthday party etiquette debate. It seems as though even though the parties seem to get more elaborate and organized over time, the same age-old questions seem to arise year after year.

And if you’re new to this birthday party scene, we shared a great blog titled “How To Throw a 1st Birthday Party” that can view that HERE. Read that first, and then catch up with the rest of today’s blog.

Below are what I have discovered as the 10 most discussed and debated birthday etiquette questions among moms…

1 – What is the Best Type of Invitation?

It seems like most moms on this topic do not have an opinion on whether an invitation should be mailed or emailed, but of course the Evite option is less expensive. However, many seem to agree not to text your invite. It is easy to accidentally leave someone off a text chain and it’s awkward to add them in later. Plus no one wants to be included on the million “reply all” texts that are sure to happen even if you request guests to text you separately.

2 – Who Should You Invite or Not Invite?

If you are planning a birthday party during the school year and want to send your invites to school with Little Johnny to pass out, please be prepared to include the entire class. We’ve all seen or read “Big Little Lies” and do not want the same type of drama to unfold! But realistically, it is inevitable that someone will feel left out!

3 – Are Siblings Automatically Included in the Invite?

If the invitation was addressed to just Little Johnny, do not assume that you can bring Little Susie Sister along as well. Sometimes the host will indicate that siblings are welcome to join, but unfortunately (and with good reason), few moms have rarely seen that written on an invitation.

4 – Do You Always Have to RSVP?

When it comes to RSVPs, most agree it should never be assumed that the host knows you are – or are not – attending. Lots of times the host is waiting for a final number to give the party location, and that number depends on the final cost and/or the amount of food that is ordered. It is always better to err on the obvious. So please always RSVP – no matter if you are able to attend or not – no matter how the party was communicated to you. We ran a great blog on the topic of RSVPs and you can read it HERE.

5 – Where is the Best Place to Have a Birthday Party?

Luckily, the Triad is FULL of a million options for fabulous birthday parties! A great place to check first when making your plans is the TMoM Birthday Party directory HERE. We also have an entire category full of several years’ worth of ideas, suggestions and tips for successful birthday parties from local moms and businesses. Click HERE to go directly to our birthday party category.

If the party falls within lunch or dinner hours, consider offering food for guest and NOTE THAT on the invitation. Many times it can be a tricky decision as to whether to feed Little Johnny before sending him to a party. And as always keep possible food allergies in mind. HERE is a great blog from our archives on how to host an allergy-free birthday party.

Finally, if you are able and comfortable enough, go ahead and tell parents they are welcome to drop their kids. This might not be best for the little ones, but once kids reach the age of “drop and go,” it’s a glorious time for parents!

6 – Is It OK to Say “Please No Gifts”? And Do You Bring a Gift Regardless?

It is more than OK to say “Please No Gifts” and it’s also more than OK to not say anything if your child is hoping to receive gifts. While the notion of a no-gift birthday party is fantastic (we’ve blogged about it HERE), it’s also a difficult concept for the little ones to understand. This is a choice that is up to you and your child. Another idea in lieu of gifts is to ask guests to make a donation to a charity of your child’s choice. Again, this might be a hard sell to a young child but a great teachable idea if your child is up for it. If you do bring a gift, don’t forget the gift receipt! There tends to be many duplicate gifts at children’s parties.

7 – Is it OK to Gift Money or Gift Cards?

It seems like everyone I ask agrees this is OK for older children (ages 11 and up) who don’t necessarily play with toys. For the younger kids, it’s recommended you offer something fun they can open – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

8 – Should We Open The Gifts In Front of Everyone?

This depends on the birthday child and the flow of the party. If your child is comfortable doing this in front of all his friends – and if it doesn’t take away from the party time – then go ahead! Often times kids enjoy watching the birthday child open up his or her gift in front of everyone. Yet, sometimes this process makes the party feel rushed, and/or it could make some kids feel uncomfortable seeing other more “popular” or “expensive” gifts being offered to the birthday child.

9 – Are Party Favors Necessary?

Up to you, but it seems the majority opinion is that if you’re paying a location to host a party for attendees, you should not feel obligated to offer favors. If you host at your house, in your yard, at a park – then offering a party favor could be a nice touch. One idea I have witnessed and thought it was a good compromise if you want to offer favors but not spend a lot of money: Purchase a bunch of prizes at the Dollar Store and put in a dark bag for kids to pull out a surprise gift at the end of the party.

10 – At What Age Should My Child Send a Thank You Note?

If your child is old enough to write his or her name, it’s never too early to start teaching the art – and importance – of hand written thank you notes. You could write the note and have your child sign it. When your kids are older, definitely encourage them to write it themselves – even if it’s only a sentence or two. HERE is a great blog from our archives about the importance of a thank you note, and another one HERE we ran recently about whether or not the hand written thank you notes is a dying practice.

What do you think? Do you agree with a lot of these opinions or have others to share? Please leave a comment below…we’d love to hear from you!

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