Party Manners

Wed, 22 Aug 2012|

-Well, it's your birthday, baby. You're looking fine. -It's hard because people have different expectations on what a birthday party should be like. You know, if you're out there throwing it or giving it. -'Cause it's your birthday, baby. -Whether your child's the partygoer or the party thrower, birthday parties can be an etiquette minefield. So, to keep you from committing a faux pas, I talked to the etiquette experts. -One, two, three. Happy birthday to you. -It seems so simple at first. -Happy birthday to you. -But what starts as a simple child's birthday party can turn into an etiquette nightmare for parents, complete with a myriad of questions. -Happy birthday to you. -Like first off, who to invite. -Do you invite the whole class, or do you invite just a small circle of friends? All of us mothers face the 'who to invite' yearly quandary. I've had that problem myself. In preschool and kindergarten, the rule of thumb is usually to invite the whole class 'cause kids haven't formed that bond. But by first and second grade, you'll find that the invites will be less and less. And that's because kids start to get their own circle of friends. -Etiquette expert Melissa Leonard says that while inviting a child's class from school is common, it's okay to have a smaller party. -I say nothing's wrong with having a small party and inviting your child's close friends. And that's because you don't have to be invited to every party. And I think the kids don't really mind if they're not invited. It's the parents. 'Cause even at age 7 or 6, kids have little notion about not being invited, but the parents create as they call the "Mama Drama" in the gossip circle. So, it's a good lesson for kids to learn that you can't be invited to every party. -Amy Torrey settled on a small get together for her daughter Emma's fourth birthday at Paint Your Own Pottery Studio, Little Rembrandt. -She just started school this year, so basically, there are-- there's two of the kids were her cousins, and the other three were the three kids that she knows best in her class. -The kids painted ceramic pottery, had cake, and played games. But Emma didn't open any presents at the party. -I just followed everybody else's lead. It seems lately, at the birthday parties, they just make them open them at home. -Melissa Leonard says saving present opening for later is better. -Kids have short attention spans. And to sit there for 20 minutes, 30 minutes watching a child tear through presents, cards get lost. Also, children are not discreet. You can be sure they're gonna hear-- they're gonna say, "Oh, I hate this. Already have this," or "Oh, clothes. Yuck," or "Oh, I got this last year." -Mother of two, Kathryn Sachs, says one big party challenge is what to put in the goodie bag. -It's a hard question. It really depends upon the age group, and also the sex of the kid. For girls, you know, when they're little, you can get away with, you know, sort of cute little stuffed animals or maybe a nice little doll. With boys, you're gonna do cars, you can do maybe, you know, little planes and stuff. But you want to avoid things that are choking hazard. You want-- with things that are unsafe in general. And you don't want the cost to get out of control. And if you're having 20, 30 kids at a party, and every kid gets a $10, let's say each gift bag costs $10, that's between $200 and $300 additional for the party. -Etiquette expert Leonard says that while many kids expect to get gift bags, they're not essential for a polite party. -Kids are not invited for the goodie bags, they're invited for the good times birthday party. If you're on a budget, you can use a piñata as a goodie bag. Do the piñata at the end of the party. And then, have them make a bag or decorate a bag, or even buy cute bags, and the candy they take home with them is your goodie bag. -But while goodie bags aren't a must, 'thank you' notes are. Leonard says the birthday boy or girl should write 'thank you' notes for all of his or her gifts within two weeks of the party. -Basically, all the child needs to do is Dear-- and we'll do "Dear Mary. Thank you so much for the game." And state what game it is. Then, the second part, second sentence is something nice about the game. "I'm going to have so much fun with my sister playing it. I can't wait." Followed by a nice close. "Thank you again for coming to my party. It was so fun. Love," And the name. -If your child is the partygoer, the number one rule of etiquette is to make sure to RSVP. -It's kinda become a joke, I think, the RSVP. People don't RSVP for parties. They don't. So, it's basically these days, people-- you are to assume a person is coming unless they call you. So, it's sort of more the regrets only thing. But it drives me bonkers because I also call and confirm with everybody. You know, "are you coming, are you not coming?" Or send them an e-mail because you haven't heard from them. You know, did they get the invitation, are they gonna come? -Once the host knows your child is coming, it's time to pick out the gift. But just how much should you spend? -Typically, I would think around $20, $25. -I think that really depends upon, you know, where you live and sort of what other people are doing, and you know, I think we always tend to spend sort of between $35 and $50. -It's party time. Now, to make sure your child behaves. -I know for my children I tell parents a lot, "before you go to a party, tell your child: make sure you behave. Do what's right. Be a good sport." And then when they get home, you follow it up by, "is there anything I should know about?" Or a lot of parents will call up the birthday parent and say, "I just want to thank you for having Johnny over for the party. Did he behave?" -Then, the only thing left to do is to sit back and enjoy the celebration. -It's like a wedding. It comes and it goes so quickly, and you kind of wonder, "Well, where did the time go?" -Yey. -Yey. -Thank you for watching Parents TV. Our families, our lives.