Kids’ Birthday Parties: The Gray Areas

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Recently we shared a post on our Facebook page that got a ton of comments and shares and I could just hear moms everywhere yelling “Amen sister!”  On that note, we have some really good stuff we share on our Facebook page, if you don’t follow, please click here to like us. I think you will be happy you did.

The post was from a blogger called Scary Mommy (she’s hilarious – highly recommend following if you don’t already) with an attempt to unite moms across America to end the birthday party favor tradition for kids.

I am so on board.

Nothing bugs me more than cheap trinkets cluttering our house, and once the kids leave the party, they likely never touch them again. I would rather the host save their money. Isn’t the party enough for the kids?

Her post got me thinking about another pet peeve of mine regarding kids’ birthday parties and it has to do with what are often two gray areas: are siblings welcome or is it a drop off party?

When kids are little, typically birthday parties are a family affair. But when they get older, some parties start to become “drop off” parties where parents drop the kids and pick them up after.  In my experience, with girls, the drop off phenomenon tends to start around 5 – 6 +.

So I am in the “is it drop off or not?” phase with both of my girls now.  And lots of time it is unclear.

Can you help a mother out? 

On your birthday party invites or evites, or even in a separate email, can you make it clear if it is a drop off party or not?

If it is a drop off party, that’s easy, and I don’t have to worry about my other daughter. Taking that a step further, if it is not a drop off party, can I bring my other child or should I make other arrangements for her?

Tell me what you prefer! 

When it has been unclear, I have asked the hostess if it is drop off or if moms are staying and, being the super sweet moms they are, I have heard, “You are welcome to either drop or stay!”

Which is so nice, but what I really want to know is what YOU want me to do! Do you prefer to have parents there to watch over their kids or you would prefer to not have moms standing around?

Here’s the thing: I will do whatever you want. I just need to know.

Invitation wording: give it to me straight!  

Lately I have gotten a few birthday party invitations where the hostess flat out says, “So sorry – no siblings.” And to that, I say, “THANK YOU!” I won’t bring her! No offense taken here – would you agree? Or would you be offended if you saw this?

So it can be as simple as staying “Siblings welcome!” or “Sorry – no siblings.” Either one does the job.

Same with the drop off part.

It can be as simple as stating, “Drop off party” at the bottom of the invite, or including it in the invitation wording, “Please drop off your child at 11:30am and pick up at 1:30pm.”

Or, on the invitation, you can address it to the “Scheumann family”, which would tell me that the party is a family affair and we should plan on staying.

Or, address the invitation using both of my children’s names so that I know they are both included. Which, typically means I should stay too, unless otherwise noted.

Tell me your thoughts! 

I would love to hear what you all think about this topic. Are you offended if someone says, “No siblings?” How do you feel about drop off parties? What do you do if it is a gray area? Please comment…

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The Scoop on Kids’ Birthday Party Etiquette

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kids' birthday party etiquette

This post is on kids’ birthday party etiquette and my [humble] opinions on the topic. Do you agree with them? Disagree? Please dish in the comments below!

When I was first navigating the birthday party scene for pint sized guests as a new mom, I found many questions and scenarios commonly arose that I would like to chat about here.

+1, +2, +3…(the sibling thing)  

To invite or not to invite the siblings of friends, that is the question.

In my opinion, it depends on how well you know the family and where you are having the party. If it is close family friends, of course I always include the siblings.

And, if it is a house party for a 4-year-old or under where a parent will stay at the party, I also tend to include the siblings and make it a family party. Easier for the parents of guests to be able to bring all their children if space isn’t an issue.

However, if you are talking about a party at an outside venue when you are allotted X number of kids and every kid thereafter is + $$, the siblings can be a problem and add up quickly.

If you do not want to (or can’t) invite siblings:

1. Have your party on a weekend when normally the other parent is home to watch the siblings.

2. Host a “drop off” party where the parent can drop off and pick up their child.

3. Clearly state the ONE child invited’s name on the invitation.  You can also do this on Evite or Paperless Post as well so the child’s name comes up alone in the RSVP’s. When adding your invitee’s email, just edit the name to say the child you wish to invite.

That will (hopefully) put the kabosh on extra guests. Not always, but it will help!

Drop off parties 

For the littles, ages 1 – 4, a drop off party is typically not standard (and you wouldn’t want it that way anyway!)

But after kids go to preschool and are used to being dropped off somewhere, for ages 5 +, I am a big fan of the drop off party. A drop off party means you don’t have to feed and entertain the adults, allowing you to solely focus on the kids.

Words of advice on hosting a drop off party:

1. Keep your number of invitees limited to your child’s closest friends; too many kids can be overwhelming.

2. Enlist the help of the grandparents or a friend or two to help you if more than just a handful of invitees.

3. Host the drop off party at your house or at a privately rented venue for your peace of mind.

4. Clearly state it is a drop off party on the invitation so parents know in advance.

The “No Gifts” Idea

I know many of you look around at your living room filled with plastic toys and overflowing toy baskets and think, “I do not want any more toys in this house!!!” I get it. I have been there.

However, in my opinion, writing, “No Gifts” on a child’s invitation (with the exception of a 1-year-old birthday party because they have no clue) can be confusing to the guests.

Here’s why. No matter how clearly you state “No Gifts,” some people will bring them anyway and then the people that follow the rules might feel like they should have brought a gift. And if your child is over 2 years old they will likely associate birthday parties with presents and the fact it is their turn, finally.

I suggest to graciously accept the gifts and then you can choose to donate some after the party.

Let Parents Know the Scoop  

This is sort of a silly thing, and it could be just me, but I always like it when I know when it is stated on the invitation what kind of food (if any) will be served at the party.

This lets me know whether my kid will need to eat lunch or dinner after (or if I need to feed them before). It doesn’t matter what is being served – it just helps to know. Something like, “Pizza and cake will be served.” Or, “Join us for cupcakes to celebrate…” Is this just me?!

I also like when it is made clear what the host wants on the invitation.  I love things like, “Siblings Welcome!” or “Drop Off Party.” Basically the more info (regardless of what it is), the better.

Please Say Thank You

Again, just my opinion, but I urge you to acknowledge your child’s gifts with a thank you in some sort of way.

A hand written thank you note is best.  I am Old School this way.

That being said, we are all moms and know how crazy life can be, so an email or a text with a photo of your child with their gift is also acceptable. The most important thing is for the person to know your child received their gift, however you want to communicate it.

Involve Your Kids in Their Thank You’s

As soon as my daughter could write, I had her sit down the day after the party and write her thank you’s, don’t wait or you risk not doing them. Actually that goes for most all thank you notes, do it immediately, or it will fall off your list!

I think it is an important etiquette lesson for kids to show their gratitude in a handwritten note. It is also good practice on their penmanship.

It can start off by being as simple as having your child sign their name, and then when they can write the entire card, go for it.  Even if you have to split them up and have them do a few a day for the week following the party.

This year I taught my oldest how to address the envelopes as well, and she actually enjoyed doing them putting the stamps on, etc. So you can actually make it a fun project for them. Hopefully.

Those are my two cents on the topic! Anyone else have etiquette questions they wonder about or any opinions on the above??


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