Birthday parties for your kids.
Oh, mama mia… I’m in the middle of this right now for my son Benjamin.
Benjamin turns 8 on April 4th, and has a birthday party with all of his school friends on April 12th. With kids at this age, I feel there’s a certain birthday party etiquette that you should be following. I’ll never forget (and I’ll leave her name out of it) when I was 8 years old and completely being excluded from a birthday party of a girl in my class. She lived about a mile away from me. I’ll never forget driving by her house that spring afternoon and seeing ALL of my friends running around. Apparently she told everyone I was invited because I didn’t invite her to my party. I had invited her, she was away with her family on vacation when it happened. The tears shed for a long time that afternoon. I couldn’t understand why someone would be so mean.
My mom – God bless her – years later had told me, “I couldn’t believe her mom could allow her to be so mean.”
That incident has never left my mind and my heart. I’ve always made my children invite their WHOLE ENTIRE CLASS to birthday parties that we’ve hosted for them. As much as I may get the, “UGH… Mom, I’m not friends with her (or him).” I haven’t cared. I’ve never wanted someone to feel excluded and hurt.
As I’m planning Ben’s Birthday Party, I’ve been truly aware of Birthday Party Etiquette… Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Invite the whole class. Kids talk, even when you tell them NOT to. You don’t want anyone to feel excluded. *Listen, I know sometimes it’s difficult to invite everyone – but if you have a girl, invite all the girls. If you have a boy, invite all the boys. If your child really has a TRUE issue with someone in class, then that’s a whole other situation and most likely, you’ve already had contact with the parents. But in my opinion… the WHOLE CLASS should be invited, at least when they’re 8 and under (or 2nd grade and under).
2. Make sure you serve food that is safe for any children with allergies. I’m always aware of this because one of my son’s best friend’s is allergic to peanuts. I NEVER serve anything with peanuts at a party because I don’t want to say, “Everyone can eat this, but YOU.” So just be aware.
3. If you can, have the teacher distribute invitations in school folders. Don’t have your child be the kid passing them out at recess.
4. Open gifts after the party is over. This is one that my mom and mother-in-law can’t stand! They want gifts opened in front of everyone. OK, for family — YES! For friends, open later. Everyone has different budgets. I’ll never forget being at a party for my son William when he was 6 years old… the birthday boy opening gifts said, “Oh… I just got this and it was on sale.” The boy’s mother wanted to DIE!
5. If you are able to include siblings, it’s a great thing to do. This is ONLY if you can. As a mom of 5, I know how tough it can be heading to a birthday party with my children for another child. We end up just sitting there waiting for the party to be over. I’m always thankful to the parents who allow my other children to be included. We just went to a bowling party and the mother and father invited my other kids to join in. I wouldn’t allow them to do it without paying the fee, but I appreciated the offer.
6. Goodie bags, yes – a MUST! I’m not kidding, for younger kids – this is the best part! You don’t have to go crazy and many times if you’re having the party at a location, they provide them within your rental fee. It’s a cute add-on for the children attending.
7. Extra food is always a good thing. I grew up this way, so this is big for me. My mom and dad always ordered extra food to make sure the parents could have something. It’s a simple thing, but something that’s nice to do and to be able to offer.