‘Tis the season for birthday parties. This can be an overwhelming time for first-time party-goers. What do I buy for a gift? Do both parents go or one? Is it ok to bring siblings? The questions go on. I’m here to give you my Jen P. rules on birthday party etiquette. I could be way off, but this is just what I do:-)
Age four is the magic age for drop-off in Charlotte. Any party before that, just assume one parent is required for a chaperone. Personally, I think two parents are too much unless you are really close to the hosting family. Imagine inviting all the children in your preschool class and both parents of all children came. You wouldn’t be able to find a venue that large. No siblings are welcome unless specified on the invitation. As a birthday party hostess, you should consider that when selecting your party time during the week. For example, nothing is more annoying than to get invited to a 3-year-old party on a Thursday at 3pm, especially when you have other napping children and no back-up with dad at home. It’s ok for 5 and up because we all become seasoned carpool queens once our children enter kindergarten. It’s our means of survival! At the preschool age, you may want to consider inviting all of the children in your class until age five. Then many people seem to switch to an all-girl party or all-boy party. The class sizes are small enough and most of the party venues will accommodate plenty of children – usually 15-20 children are included in the party package at My Gym, Little Gym, Harris Y, Pump It Up, Monkey Joes, etc. You are exempt from this idea with summer birthdays – woohoo, I have two of them! We can invite whoever we want to our parties, but we have always invited more than we need to because I’m a big off-campus party hostess! I have a party in itself with just my family so the thought of having 12 screaming 4-year-olds at my house and feeding them cake is just not appealing to me at this stage in my life. I may regret this, but haven’t so far.
As for gifts, I say $10-$12 is plenty. You can even find great deals on toys at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Costco, Sams, BJ’s, etc. I sometimes stock up on a great gift when I stumble across one. I have also been known to give decorated headbands that I buy at Target. They cost me $8 plus my time to hand-paint them and they have been a hit with all of my girls’ friends. Sometimes, I see my handwriting wandering around stores and I recognize it immediately. I’m also a firm believer that if you can’t attend the party and you appropriately RSVP, then you do not need to give a gift. I just think these days, birthday parties are so frequent and so massive, that you just don’t need to provide gifts if you can’t go.
Twins etiquette – I’m just learning about this one. I’m thinking that if you are hosting a party for your twins, most people will bring a gift for both children. As a mom of twins, I don’t expect this. But I could see where people may not be sure what to do. I guess my advice to the moms hosting twins parties, just make sure your party favor is super cool to cover the double-gift confusion!
One other thing pertaining to gifts. I have toyed with the idea for a few years now to donate gifts to charity instead of for my children. I have decided to save this for when the children are old enough to understand the concept. They go to parties all the time and they can’t wait until that day when they get to wear the birthday hat. I don’t want to deprive them of that joy just yet.
What are your party rules? Please share!